Fewer lunch wagons in Kakaako hot spot - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fewer lunch wagons in Kakaako hot spot

The Camille's on Wheels food truck The Camille's on Wheels food truck
David Paladino & Florian Subzmaier David Paladino & Florian Subzmaier
Camille Komine Camille Komine
Poni Askew Poni Askew
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Camille Komine's lunch wagon was one of the trucks that frequented Kakaako. A year ago Camille's on Wheels joined a caravan of a dozen food trucks. Today you can count the operators on one hand.

"Now it's pretty much one truck and maybe one or two others," regular lunch wagon customer Florian Subzmaier said.

"For the most part one lunch wagon is the one that's here consistently," customer David Paladino said.

Komine believes fewer lunch wagons in Kakaako reflects change within the industry. Some operators quit.

"There's a romantic idea that this is a cute little business to get into. But the harsh realities are that it's really hot in your truck and it's hard physical labor," she said.

"We have seen turnover. We've seen our food vendors turn into brick and mortar spaces. We've seen some of them decide it's not for them," Poni Askew said.

Askew organizes Eat the Street and runs the StreetGrindz.com web site. She said overall the number of food trucks is still high, but they're spread out or congregating in areas outside Kakaako.

Komine said that's a challenge because of where lunch wagons can't go, like to farmer's markets. She wants government to ease its restrictions.

"We're prohibited from going to Waikiki, Chinatown and city and state parks. If we were able to be there we would have a constant flow of traffic," she said.

"I think accessibility and predictability can do nothing but help the food vendors," Askew said.

Construction in Kakaako fueled the increase in food trucks that hit a high last year.

"Once that dried up everybody left," Paladino said.

They'll come back with condo construction. More than a dozen projects are on the table.  Komine said her customers follow her whereabouts.

"People want to know where I am," she said.

In the lunch wagon business, that's as important as what's on the menu.


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