Q&A with “soup king” Rod Harris

Website - soup Q&A pic

New Avenues thru Soup provides paid job opportunities for youth like Maria and Jon.

Rod Harris

Rod Harris and his dog enjoying the Oregon Coast.

This January we launched our third social purpose enterprise, New Avenues thru Soup, to provide even more paid job opportunities for foster, at-risk, and homeless youth – especially youth who need help obtaining their first job experience. New Avenues thru Soup was made possible thanks to a significant investment from the founder of Harry’s Fresh Foods – Portland’s own “soup king” – Rod “Harry” Harris. We asked Mr. Harris to reflect on his first job experience and why he is committed to being part of the solution to ending youth homelessness.

Tell us about your first job . . .

I had a paper route as a boy, but my first real job was in the food industry as a dishwasher at the Cosmopolitan Airtel in Portland. I started working there back in 1968 – the same year we landed on the moon – just to give you some context. Eventually I worked my way to the front end as a busboy. I remember this one time, bringing out an order and accidentally spilling a plate full of French fries on a customer. The grease from the fries stained her outfit and she wasn’t too happy with me. That mistake taught me about proper serving techniques. Overall, being a busboy taught me so much about customer service, how to create a great dining experience for the customer, and so many skills I used throughout my career.

Why did you want to partner with New Avenues for Youth to help launch this soup cart? 

 I care about making sure young people have those same first job opportunities that I did, and I like how New Avenues uses an entrepreneurial lens to focus on a charitable cause. Also New Avenues’ holistic approach is a real differentiator, and I believe, is a big part of why they’ve been successful in helping youth achieve real success.

Want to learn more about our new soup cart? Click here to see recent media coverage of the launch of New Avenues thru Soup from KGW News, the Portland Business Journal, XRAY.FM and more!