The Fojol Bros. have cultivated a communal, never-ending Summer of Love culture around their food trucks as much as they have developed individual cuisines. Last year, of course, their carnivalesque shtick, with elements borrowed from India (turbans) and blue-collar America (coveralls and work boots), raised the hackles of hundreds of Washingtonians who deemed the neon-colored circus offensive.
But co-founder Justin Vitarello and his crew have soldiered on, continuing to sell an experience and a good plate of Indian (or Thai or Ethiopian) food, just as he promised he would when the whole racial stereotyping controversy broke last spring. In fact, with today's Food section story about the Fojol's plan to debut two dining buses, dubbed the Elastic Hallways, the team once again proudly flies its freak flag, as if proving its creativity, naivete and savvy all contribute to its unique approach to mobile vending.
The same combination of elements reveals itself at Fojol headquarters, dubbed the Factory by employees. The Factory is actually an industrial space in Hyattsville that the Fojol Bros. lease from Suku Nair, the restaurateur behind now-shuttered Georgetown spots such as Amma Vegetarian Kitchen and Aditi Indian Cuisine. The space serves many different functions for the 13 employees who are expected to keep the Fojol trucks running this spring and summer: commissary, war room, dispatch office, dressing room, costume studio, flophouse, lounge and teaching classroom.
Vitarello had never given the press a tour of Fojol's inner lair — until last week, when he escorted me through the space known as the Octagon, because of its eight-sided walls. It's a fascinating, fiercely personal and funny collection of rooms, as you can see from the photos below. (Apologies in advance for the grainy iPhone pics.)