BY GARY CHUN | StarAdvertiser.com
Saying the popular food truck Melt wrapped up its street business today on a high note would be an understatement.
After word got out via social media, Melt’s gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches sold at such a volume that orders were halted an hour and 15 minutes after opening at 11 a.m. at the truck’s regular parking spot on the Diamond Head side of Ward Avenue near Sports Authority. The assortment of triple melt, tomato basil melt, pastrami melt and signature Melt of Shame sandwiches were assembled and sold by co-owners Lindsey Ozawa and Martha Cheng at a steady pace.
The business volume never waned. There were as many as 40 hungry patrons in line, some texting away with smartphones. Later, some of them had to be turned away when Cheng came out from behind the truck’s grill to make the disappointing announcement that they had run out of food.
“It sucks … .” said Ozawa when the last sandwich went out. “We prepped for normal service, but most of our orders were, at a minimum, three sandwiches per, so we ended up running out of cheese before anything else.”
If it’s any solace, Ozawa said he and fellow co-owners Cheng and Alejandro Briceno are looking into re-opening Melt sometime in the future, only this time as a “brick-and-mortar” operation.
“It’s become a good brand with a good following,” Ozawa said.
Along with other food trucks, Melt was at the forefront of a popular movement that started last October that has since blossomed into the monthly Eat the Street festival held on the last Friday of every month in Kakaako. It was Cheng who brought the food truck concept back from her Portland, Ore., visit to Ozawa, who had left his post as executive chef at Nobu in Waikiki.
Now Ozawa, with 14 years of experience by his count, will bring his full attention to his new restaurant Prima, which he plans to open in early September in Kailua in the Foodland complex on Hekili Street, between Baskin-Robbins and R. Field Wine Company.
With a wood-burning pizza oven already in place, Ozawa said he’s starting off with an Italian-based menu, although he added he may later add items based on his training in French and Japanese cuisine.
“The advantage of starting the food truck first was the low start-up cost. With a restaurant, it’s five to six times more. That’s a lot of money, so I have to make sure that Prima will be successful,” he said.