The intersection of East 14th Avenue and Kincaid Street may still smell like three-cheese tomato soup, but will soon have the aroma of meatball sandwiches made by Screamin’ Jay’s food cart. After 21 years of business, the Soup Nation Soup Carte next to Prince Lucien Campbell Hall has been sold; however, the company’s cafe and catering business will remain open.
“Our [catering] kitchen is young and the cafe is doing better than ever,” said Soup Nation owner Mark Stern.
Catering makes up the largest portion of the company, and is what led Stern to open the brick-and-mortar Soup Nation cafe on High Street.
“It was time to focus on one thing instead of spreading out. It’s just me and my  coworkers,” said Stern.
The new owners of the food cart, Fiona Gledhill and Jesse Gandy, are unsure when they will officially open Screamin’ Jay’s, but plan on having a soft launch next week.
“We are really excited to get the smells and sight out to the community and students,” said Gledhill.
Gledhill and Gandy’s food cart will sell meatball sandwiches and offer vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free meatball options. It will serve a variety of grab-and-go sandwiches, and will also continue to serve Soup Nation’s three-cheese tomato soup.
“It was a suggestion I put out to them because it’s the one constant that people come to the cart for all the time and it goes well with their menu,” said Stern.
In 1997, Soup Nation was originally started as Carte Blanche Soup Carte by Stern who had an entrepreneurial itch and a passion for cooking that promoted him to start his own soup cart.
“The University of Oregon seemed like the most diverse location between Portland and San Francisco, making it a great place for the business concept,” said Stern.
Originally Stern was discouraged from the cart’s location near Prince Lucien Campbell Hall because only one other food cart had ever been at the spot, but Stern thought it was a hot location.
“I sat there all day, multiple days, counting people walking by when classes were in session and knew this was a good spot for me,” said Stern.
After many years at the soup cart, a large catering opportunity arose, and that’s when Stern realized that his soup concept could scale larger.
The opening of the cafe eight years ago brought a name change to the cart, but the menu concept remained the same. In addition to its popular three-cheese tomato soup, the cafe serves over 80 different soups and features a diverse menu including a a chilled Vichyssoise, Thai coconut veggie soup, and Peruvian pork and quinoa soup which was made with Guy Fieri on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
During the pre-business stage Stern didn’t want to be limited on the type of food that he was going to serve, and he found that nearly every cuisine has some form of soup or stew.
One of Stern’s priorities is making sure that the menu is diverse, which means having soups on the menu with different meats and also having vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
“Soup Nation has allowed me to get to say, ‘Hey, try this’ and turn people on to try things they aren’t normally inclined to try,” said Stern.