There’s just one thing missing from the Hula Girl Truck: the truck itself.
Last Wednesday, Mikala Brennan flew to San Antonio to pick up the old government vehicle she found online for $9,000. She had actually bought the truck in Pennsylvania but sent it to San Antonio so a crew there could make it look like a 1950s station wagon, but with a custom grill, a flat screen TV and a couple of surfboards. The modifications cost $85,000.
Finding the truck was the hardest part of the whole process, Brennan said. “It literally took months.”
The District’s stringent restrictions didn’t help, either. Most cities allow 20-foot trucks, but food trucks in Washington must be capped at a length of 18.5 feet.
So Brennan, 42, did what she had to do: She bought a 20-foot truck and “gave it a tummy tuck.”
There were other surprises along the way, too. The stand-up fridge and prep table had to be scrapped at the last minute once it became clear that there wasn’t enough room.
Brennan, who is originally from Oahu, began the paperwork for the food truck about two months ago. She submitted a detailed blueprint of the truck, a food safety plan, depot permits and kitchen licenses to the Department of Health. “And then I just sort of sat around and waited,” she said.
Next came stops at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Tax and Revenue, where she registered her corporation. Before getting the Department of Health and the D.C. Fire Marshal to inspect the truck, she added a fire extinguisher and put up “no smoking” signs near the propane tank. In the end, after insurance, permits and licenses, Brennan estimates that she’s spent about $100,000.
When it launches on July 18, the truck will sell Hawaiian classics like teriyaki steak, macaroni salad and Spam sushi, as well as soft-serve ice cream and fountain sodas.
“I’m trying not to go overboard with the Hawaiian theme because some of it can be kind of off-putting,” Brennan said. “Plus,” she added, “my crew said they’d quit if I made them wear coconut bras.”
The Hula Girl Truck is taking votes on Facebook for where its first stop should be. L’Enfant Plaza is winning, but Farragut Square isn’t too far behind.
But first, there’s one last thing Brennan still has left to do: “I need to stop in a few parking lots and practice my parallel parking.”