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Oct 6, 2013 12:46 PM

Food Truck Race Winner Q's

Just watched a rerun of the last episode where Aloha Plate wins and Tyler says: When you get to California you might need a boat." Presumably to ship the winning food truck to Lanai.

Does anyone know if the winners have to pay to ship their truck to Hawaii? That would seem to eat up their $50,000 cash prize.

Then I started wondering who picked up the tab on all the gasoline it took to drive over 4,000 miles. And the propane for the grills. And the insurance for the trucks and follow cars. Just curious if anyone knows the answers.

As an aside, one of the winners said they live on a small island in the Hawaii chain, Lanai, of 2500 people. I checked, and yes, it has a small population, although perhaps increasing as an American (as I remember) billionaire bought the island (how can that be?) and is developing it. I wonder how they can sustain a food truck business on such a small population.

It seems as though it is a tourist destination, so perhaps the tourists factor into the equation. But I'm thinking a lot of tourists would choose hotel dining room or local restaurant or a traditional luau rather than food truck. Sure, a food truck is fun for a couple of times on vacation, but I'm mulling over how Aloha Plate plans to survive.

Just stirring the pot!

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  1. With further research, I realize the island was sold before it became a state, so further sales would be possible.

    And I figure Food Network would be responsible for costs along the way and this would be spelled out in whatever contracts the participants sign.

    Simply curious.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      I would imagine that there's the possibility of getting the cash equivalent of the truck.

      1. re: nemo

        The Robinson family owns the island of Ni'ihau. It's set aside by the Robinsons for Native Hawaiians. No one else can visit, much less live there, unless invited by one of the residents.
        Lanai was, along with Molokai, part of the territory of the island of Maui. It still is. The guy who owns Oracle, and just won America's Cup, recently bought it. It was also the location for Bill Gates' wedding.
        There are 2 expensive resorts, The Lodge at Koele and The Manele Bay. Both are quite nice. I stayed at the Manele Bay when it first opened and they had outrageous deals for kama'aina. The food at both resorts is very good (or at least it was when I was there) but I can imagine a food truck would be a welcome addition.
        Lanai City is a small town, but is strictly locals and visiting hunters. I think a food truck would do a great business there since there isn't a lot of food to choose from.

      2. Is this show produced by the Food Network or by an outside production company?

        1. A little bit about Hawaii

          1. Food trucks, which used to be called lunch-wagon's have a long history in Hawaii, going back to the plantation days of the 1800's. They were the originators of "plate lunch", an ubiquitous culinary delight that consists of two scoops of white rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and a protein, often covered all or in part with gravy. Plate lunches grew out of the Okazu and bento traditions of Japan and related foods in other cultures. Even today variations on plate lunch are more popular than salads or sandwiches for lunch here in the Aloha State. I assure you, a/another food truck/lunch wagon will have no trouble surviving on Lanai.

          2. Land ownership in Hawaii is a very complex issue going back to the earliest roots of the arrival of people here. Originally all land was held in common and controlled by the great chiefs, who allocated lands among the lesser chiefs for governance. The common people were generally allowed to keep their family lands indefinitely, passing it on from generation to generation. Then western peoples arrived with their odd ideas of private property. This eventually led to an event called the Great Mahele. I'm not going to try to explain that. Suffice to say it resulted in the land being divided into Crown Lands, Private Lands, and Public Lands. A lot of the land were essentially land grants, some of them predating or postdating the Great Mahele, and most often were associated primarily with ag-lands. Lanai was one such land grant. The 'common people' were allowed to stay on the land, retaining their status as virtual tenant farmers, although over time most of them lost the privilege for a variety of reasons, far too complex to go into here. It was essentially a feudal system, not unlike the great estates of England or other European countries.

          Hope this clarifies things a little.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I'd like to add that prior to Kameameha the Great each of the main islands had its own king. Kamehameha conquered all (but Kauai, which he got by trickery). The island of Maui controlled Molokai and Lanai, and those 2 small islands are still part of the county of Maui.
            The Great Mahele made it possible for people to own land, but also to sell it. Many did sell to sugar planters, becoming landless themselves.
            Lanai used to be strictly pineapple fields and the workers. Now they work in the resorts or must work on outer islands, coming home on weekends.
            Land tenure in Hawaii is complicated and, often, very corrupt. Entire books have been written about it. Kaimuki Man did a great job of a short explanation. :-)

          2. Wow! Thank you all for the terrific history lessons.

            I'm still curious about who pays for what on this show. I'm sure things are spelled out in some kind of contract before the race starts. I remember one team smashed an overhead sign and while the owner of the business agreed to put the claim through his insurance company, the food truck had to pay the deductible on the claim. I think it was maybe $500 which cost them dearly that day.

            And cresyd, perhaps they could take cash, but they'd still have to buy a truck and ship it in from somewhere. Unless they buy an existing truck from someone on Lanai, I guess.

            John E, don't know about the production company. Good thought. But whoever it is, there's got to be a seriously extensive contract signed by contestants.

            KaimukiMan, now I know why they named their truck Aloha PLATE! Thank you for that insight.

            3 Replies
            1. re: nemo

              While I think they very well could open a food truck (and thus have value of bringing back the one they won) - and as mentioned above the history of food trucks in Hawaii, it could easily be a solid business idea - who knows how invested they actually are in the idea of having that as a business. The way the show is now, they take teams of people who know each other who are interested in competing. It's not a case of people with established food truck businesses who have a business and brand.

              At this point with their winnings a brick and mortar joint might be a possibility. Or perhaps they were just interested in the money. It's up to them with what does or doesn't happen next.

              1. re: nemo

                From Food Network interview with Aloha Plate:
                What are you planning to do or have done with the prize money? Will you keep your truck around on the mainland, or are you headed back to Hawaii?
                Lanai: We are keeping the truck on the mainland and hoping to expand. We are planning on opening a brick and mortar. Our goal is to keep sharing aloha with the rest of America, spreading aloha through our food!

                1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                  Thanks for that feedback, Beefeater. Just checked out the Food Network interview. It's not clear where they mean to open the brick-and-mortar.

                  They had such an amazing following all over the US. I was surprised by the huge Hawaiian presence on the mainland. Perhaps they think "sharing aloha with the rest of America" means staying on the mainland.

                  I'm sure they will pick their B-&-M location carefully because traveling around the country by truck (if that's even a consideration), and even in decent weather, would be costly and exhausting.

                  I'm curious to follow these guys.