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Monday, February 10, 2014

"Kapa'a is starting to look like a ghetto-The Food truck revolution" 'James "Kimo" Rosen'

Food trucks are charging just as much or more than a sit down
 conventional  brick and mortar restaurant with the same type of food items...

This blog also appeared as my bi-weekly column
 in the Kaua'i Garden Island News on 02-10-14; 


Kapa'a is  starting to look like a ghetto-The Food truck revolution

Imagine wanting to open a restaurant  and share your culinary art only to find rents for commercial restaurants on Kaua'i are a hard nut to crack, and in many cases cost prohibited without already being a person of wealth.  

Fast forward to Kauai 2014.The last few years on Kaua'i have brought us an array of all wakes of ethnicity in regards to street food by means of the 'food truck.'  There are Mexican, Greek, Italian, Thai, Chinese, American style steak and burgers, crepes,and the all  popular Hawai'ian style plate lunch, lau lau,shaved ice and malasadas.

Most people I know enjoy street  food.  Street food used to be sold by means of hot dog carts, pretzel stands and  musical ice cream trucks.

Food trucks have not only taken over for street food vendors, but  for the conventional restaurant  as a popular  means to open a restaurant on Kaua'i. Kapa'a town is starting to look  like a ghetto with all these old step-vans converted to food trucks. There is a food truck revolution going on.

Food trucks were originally known and famous for large portions of  food  at very reasonable prices.  Food trucks do not have all the overhead of traditional restaurants, while some pay minimal rent, others set up on the side of the highways and roads and pay nothing or a nominal fee to their local city or county. Food trucks  plain and simple do not have the expenses of a conventional restaurant.

The food trucks I have witnessed do not even have porta potties or  a place to wash your hands? It makes me wonder where the owners and employees relieve themselves during a shift of work. How can a restaurant pass a board of health inspection without restrooms for their patrons and employees?

Therefore one would think the savings in overhead would be passed onto the consumer, as I have witnessed on O‘ahu and many other places. I often visit a locally owned  restaurant  that has an excellent wait staff, awesome food, large portions and restrooms, plus their menu prices are less than the food trucks I have witnessed on island.   

The  food trucks I have visited on Kaua‘i are  priced way too high with tiny humble portions of food. Food trucks in many instances are charging more than a full fledged sit-down restaurant serving similar food items.

 There’s a relatively new food truck I  bicycle  by every day. However, after looking at the menu, it was the same old story, high prices.The only thing that looked reasonable was the kid’s menu; however, you must be 12 or under. Isn't that discrimination? 

 I understand being an entrepreneur and wanting to live your dream, and that dream may be to open a restaurant. You may not have the funds to open a  restaurant in a shopping mall, or you may just like the concept of food-trucks. However, when a burger plate is $12-15 plus tax served on a paper plate with no wait staff or restrooms-- and with  the audacity to have a rusted lid mayonnaise jar on the counter with sloppy handwriting that  says “TIPS.” This is just insanity. 

I want  the Kauai fleet of  food trucks to stay in business and make money. I would like to offer  some solid advise. Here's my tip, not in a rusted lid mayonnaise jar but from the heart. Please  serve larger portions, think volume and stop charging fine dining prices in a fast food environment.

Believe it or not the next fad in business is fashion trucks, they are gaining popularity in mainland markets. Who knows, before long there will be no need for shopping centers or strip malls in Hawai'i, just good old converted step vans everywhere.   Welcome to paradise! 
P.S.
"The Food Truck Revolution appeared in the 02-10-14 edition of the Kaua'i Garden Island News. If you like it please click recommend on the top right orbottom of page. The link is below. Hope you enjoy! James "Kimo" Rosen. AKA Jimmy, JR or Jim.
P.S. they even included my photo in the online edition!
http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/guest/the-food-truck-revolution/article_3f77a0da-921a-11e3-9d72-001a4bcf887a.html

Hana Hou, (Encore) Shared From Facebook...





47 comments:

Kit Ellison said...

via email,"Love it and agree 100%!! That old restaurant that has had everything under the sun in it (last being a defunct sports bar) is now becoming Mariachi's Mexican Restaurant with a taco food truck beside it, unless he's had to move. Mariachi's is great Mexican food at a good price for their large portions and consistent seasonings . Wonder who will win? LOL"

Rick Comstock said...

via facebook," I simply solved the problem after the first time I walked up to a food truck on Kauai. I viewed no one else present, menu, and prices, then turned and walked away. Add one year to that, something changed, the (limited) banker hours, same food same prices same result……walked away and went straight to a restaurant. But the new rush is at Art Night…..No art just a street of food trucks, know I don't go to art night anymore… no music, all the store owners standing in front of there empty stores watching "Zoo Night"…..It's all for the tourists, their dollars and under 25 crowd with nothing to do. Island of Kauai keeps moonwalking into the 20th century."

KimoRosen said...

Good point my friend...

KimoRosen said...

Rick, looks like your my only fan dis week! :D)

Rick Comstock said...

Well I know they are not at any food trucks…… I'm always a fan…some of this stuff keeps my head spinning…..and we need another new small building while more abandoned shells turn island style to the new getto style look….sustainability includes more than growing food…...

KimoRosen said...

You know how I am always encouraging Chuck to run for county council? The question is now, why not you! "Comstock, 2014-Kaua'i County Council!"

Rk669 said...

via Garden Island news comment section"Kimo,U are absolutely correct in your Rational of Kauai's food trucks,Small Portions & big $$$. Amswer to this Scam,BOYCOTT THEM! Some don't even have Seating so that u can relax&enjoy your Meager Portion."

Bettejo Dux said...

via Garden Island news comment section,"Kimo, I love you dearly, but I would no more eat food from a fast-food truck-street food, yuck- then I would fly to the moon. Sorry about that fellas."
Bettejo Dux

Richard Spacer said...

via email, "Good job!"

KimoRosen said...

Mahalo Bruddah!, Are you @ your Kapa'a office? ;D)

Richard Spacer said...

Yes I am...

Sandra Jennings said...

I love food trucks! My first experience was in Papeete along the waterfront. Then some of the best food ever in Portland.

KimoRosen said...

I like Food trucks the way they used to be, not the way they are now...

Ami Thea said...

I agree 100%!

KimoRosen said...

Ami, They say, "Great minds think alike!"

Sandra Jennings said...

They used to sell inexpensive food to workers in industrial areas. Now they are expressions of creativity and variety. Vehicles for those wishing to express their culinary creativity without spending 100,000 or more for brick and mortar locations.

KimoRosen said...

but at the same time they need to practice proper hygiene, where do they reliever themselves without porta potties or restrooms, where do the patrons wash their hands? They are basically selling culinary delights in an unsanitary fast food environment. At least if there going to sell in those conditions, have reasonable prices, better to sell 100 hamburgers at $5.00-$6.00 each than sell 6 hamburger for $12.00 each. These trucks could have lines if they managed themselves appropriately. to each there own, but for me, for the price, I will choose a traditional restaurant with facilities.

KimoRosen said...

I am betting the food trucks in Papeete along the waterfront at least had porta potties?

Sandra Jennings said...

Well, maybe public bathrooms somewhere nearby. I have eaten street food all around the world, from trucks and stands, I actually prefer it, the Peoples food. Never have I gotten sick. I am sure they are regulated and inspected here, I know they need a hand washing sink that is separate. They also need to be connected to a certified commissary kitchen, also an expense.

KimoRosen said...

Sandra, I am still looking forward to ordering Passover dinner from your catering business. Now your business is right on!

Sandra Jennings said...

14th of April I believe for Passover!

KimoRosen said...

Yes, I will contact you one week before for my order if your still doing it?!

Sandra Jennings said...

Yes I am!

KimoRosen said...

Excellent!

Ron (Martini) Ostroff said...

Hmmm. I have a crazy idea. Just hear me out. Come on give it a chance.... Don't go there

Rick Comstock said...

Lets not talk food trucks portlandia….Kauai is the topic, and armed guards at neighbor establishments restrooms to prevent non customer use. Kauai home of the 15 dollar burrito.

Ron (Martini) Ostroff said...

Hmmm. Seems like they took paradise and put in a parking lot with a pink hotel boutique and a swinging hot spot

Rick Comstock said...

The streets of Oahu are unfriendly and the overflow is arriving.

KimoRosen said...

Ron, (Martini) Agreed. I don't go there, and they are being giving a chance, mostly by tourists, who don't know any better. I remember back in the day, I was editor of the Element, you wrote, "Controversy is the cornerstone of our environment." I have pretty much practiced that to this day!

Bruce Golub said...

personally love our food trucks in ballard...best tacos in town.

Chuck Lasker said...

Are they as expensive as full restaurants there, Bruce?

Bruce Golub said...

hell know...they are dirt cheap...(of course, all restaurants in Seattle are expensive...its gotten so '$' means "maybe less than $30 a person. Even mexican chains like Azteca charge at least 12.00 for each entree.

KimoRosen said...

Bruce, that's the way food trucks should be! Good for them!

Lisa Evans Turbeville said...

Via facebook,"Went to the Greek one on Kauai, it was excellent!"

KimoRosen said...

Yes, but no place to wash hands , or use restroom, and very expensive for fast food...

KimoRosen said...

P.S, I mainly see rental cars in the parking lot whenever I cruise by, it looks like locals are not frequenting...

Soren Velice said...

Most of them are a lousy deal. But then most of them rent from the most usurious landowner on the east-side.


KimoRosen said...

Someone, whether the landlord or tenant need to supply porta potties and a place to wash wands, heck, even grocery stores have containers of wipes upon entering...

Kit Ellison said...

via email,"I don't have Facebook so I clicked it under my daughter's name. :) Gotta keep you writing!!!"

Kit

Kit Ellison said...

I might if I didn't feel do stupid for not knowing what in the internet I'm doing with it. LOL

Ken Hughes said...

Ken Hughes Al Pastor Tacos one of the best. $10 or less for two killer tacos. I keep wipes in my car.

KimoRosen said...

A response to column in the 02-14-14 edition of the Kaua'i garden Island news;
http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/mailbag/letters-for-friday-february/article_f90dd8ec-9531-11e3-81c2-0019bb2963f4.html


Food trucks provide valuable service
I have hesitated a bit to write an open letter in response to the column about Kauai’s food trucks. In the interest of full disclosure, I will let you know that my wife and I are two of those spoken of last week. We own and operate a food truck called Put it in a Pita. We are also friends with a number of others who operate similar trucks. I wish to give the writer of the article the benefit of a doubt and think he was just having a bad day. He spoke of the cost of food on these trucks as being exorbitant, especially when compared to “real restaurants.” I wish I could explain the full costs associated with trucks but that would take too much.
However, I know of not a single person here on the island who owns one of these difficult venues who is making a killing. All of us are working long, hard hours and for the most part, I have seen that the customers are getting an awesome meal. Granted, there are a couple that are less than ideal, but the same is true of all the brick and mortar restaurants as well.
Earning a living on beautiful Kauai is not always easy, and I applaud all of those who, instead of sponging off of others, have risked all they have, scraped together whatever monies they could and have opened a rolling restaurant. A typical restaurant can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to open, a talented chef with a strong work ethic and lots of sweat can get up and going in a food truck for a fraction of that cost and then feed his family. Why beat up good people for doing such a thing?
I have eaten at Pacos Tacos, Little Greek, Rafael’s, Rainbow Jo’s, and a number of others and I have always received a fair, yummy meal in exchange for the money I gave them. There is room for all of us, be that food trucks, full restaurants or fast food places. I would even love to see someone plant a small New York style hot dog stand right in the middle of some of our beaches. I always loved those hot dogs! Maybe someday. Until then, I invite all of our island friends to continue to enjoy excellent food wherever they find it.
Craig Lindquist, Put it in a Pita

Rick Comstock said...

So in Friday TGI a response to Kimos' blog from the Pita Food Truck…..he never addressed one issue but confirmed it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a restaurant made of bricks…..While the whole topic was about, prices, hours, service for the dollar, restrooms and etc;….Wow I thought a kitchen on wheels cooks food the same as in a bricks and mortars place. So it's not the price of equipment. It's about increasing profits and not hiring a staff to service. It's the free loading on the backs of local business for sanitation. It's to pull up stakes and park at Art Night to deprive local restraints and art studios patrons. To remove community dollars to there "can care less" wheels of fortune.

KimoRosen said...

Yes and he never speaks of no wash facilities or restrooms. The point was I was saying think volume and lower prices. A pita plate if you go to "Put in a Pita in a pocket" is 13.00 , it may be good but that's a lot for the environment your in. I do think for late night stoners it's fine, but for regular people..? http://thegardenisland.com/.../article_f90dd8ec-9531-11e3...

Rick Comstock said...

I'll put it on the stove and see if I can add some satire…..I went to Art Night in Hannapapa last week no parking and all the food trucks had line. No body was in the stores or restaurants….Geoigio was outside with a couple owners, pointing and didn't look pleased. Skateboarders have taken over the street and you know their not there to promote the Art Night…..niether is the food trucks. And when it rains the new so called restaurants on wheel don't even open…..

KimoRosen said...

No pressure, if it comes natural write something, I like your style. Whose Geoigio?

Rick Comstock said...

A very famous Artists, been on the island for a long time. He owns the art gallery next to the pottery joint…we own several pieces. He's been National Geographic and his first studio was on the main highway… in front was the old truck which was painted by him with flowers, and he planted flowers in the back of the truck…it set near a old gas station pump…..