The Revitas are Revved UpMay 8, 2016, 1:07 PM HST (Updated May 10, 2016, 8:09 AM)
After chatting with Island Roots’ owners Robert and Kay Revita, I told my husband, “Now, I want a food truck.” I wasn’t serious, of course, but their enthusiasm and passion for their business is infectious.
So what is it like to own a food truck?
“We had an eight-month learning curve, but now it’s pretty easy.” And, fun, apparently.
It’s not like they just bought the truck and went at it, though.
Robert Revita has been in the restaurant and cooking business for over thirty years. He has worked in Hawai’i, Guam, Colorado, Alaska, California, and Japan, cooking everywhere he went. He also did stints as a high school and college culinary instructor.
As for Kay Revita, she’s happy to finally use her degree in Business Marketing. She has found herself learning to use social media (Facebook, Instagram, TripAdvisor, and Yelp) as well as handling the financial end of the business.
“She can cook, too…but she’s quite a baker,” said Robert Revita, admiringly. Their talents complement each other well. Kay is up at the crack of dawn, gathering fresh fish and other foods to serve. She works the “front of house (or truck, rather),” taking orders, handling payments, and taking phone calls, as well as helping out.
Their menu focuses on fresh island fare, like Kay’s Lilikoi Sweet Chili Garlic Butter Shrimp, Tropical Cilantro-Line Shrimp, or Spicy Volcano Garlic Shrimp ($13). They make their own compound butters, as well as kimchee and slaw.
“We put the emphasis on fresh,” said Robert, who said they regularly prepare spearfish, ahi, marlin, and mahi plates ($13), as well as salads (also $13).
I personally loved Robert’s take on a traditional Cuban sandwich – a “Hawbano” – with shredded kalua pork, kimchee, Swiss cheese, and a dill pickle.
I asked about their favorite part of having a food truck. Robert was quick to answer that “After years of being in a brick-and-mortar room, being able to talk to people is great.” They both enjoy seeing friends, meeting people, and greeting tourists. They even keep maps on hand to give away.
What is their least favorite part of having a food truck? Well, if the truck breaks down, or if they have equipment problems, it’s a little tough. They’ve learned, though, to keep things well-maintained.
Largely due to the support of food truck fans Kawehi Inaba (former County Director of Research and Development) and departmental consultant Vivian Landrum, the food trucks have a temporary home, at the vacant lot between Big Island Honda and the West Hawai’i Today. Island Roots spends time there, as well as across from Kona Boys Kayaks, and the downtown Dixon 76 station.
They’ll take orders ahead of time at (808) 938-1748 so it will be ready when you arrive to pick it up.
To get your island-fresh fix, check Island Roots’ Facebook page, which tells where to find ‘em each day.