fojol brothers, food truck, eat street, food network, washington post, food truck regulations, street food, indian food, ethiopian food, cookbookThe Washington Post recently came upon an out-of-the-box thinking food truck operator whose creative idea of retrofitting old buses as dining cars may help to reinvigorate the District’s thinking in its latest proposed food truck regulations. Justin Vitarello, co-founder of Fojol Brothers wants to be a part of a growing mobile culture in D.C. and is ready to bring something new to the table. Vitarello’s vision isn’t entirely new.

Le Truc in San Francisco has pulled off a similar concept for several years, but Vitarello plans to offer something a little different. He imagines his customers sitting down to a meal in a 1957 bus retrofitted as a 21st-century dining car “When I walked into [the bus], I knew it would work,” Vitarello says. “It would be something that would complement what we do. . . . We want to be part of a growing mobile culture. It’s meeting people where they are with their lifestyle,” he told the Post.

fojol brothers, food truck, eat street, food network, washington post, food truck regulations, street food, indian food, ethiopian food, cookbookFojol Brothers, featured on Food Network’s Eat St this passed season serves Indian, Thai and Ethiopian food while wearing fake mustaches and brightly-colored turbans. They are a fictional “traveling culinary carnival” from the country of “Merlindia” to “share their family traditions with the world.”

The traveling food circus is also featured in the upcoming book, Eat St, written by the show’s host, James Cunningham. The Fojol Brothers may not take themselves seriously, but they take their food very seriously. Pre-orders for the book are available for $6.00 off the cover price until April 2, when the book officially launches and ships.



Retrofitted Dining Cars Serve as Peace Offering

Vitarello feels that his concept may serve as a peace offering in an ongoing debate between food trucks and bricks and mortar restaurants. The owners of bricks and mortar restaurants view street food vendors as poachers or wandering vagrants. The new proposed regulations establish Mobile Roadway Vending locations, where trucks would enjoy expanded hours but probably find their numbers limited. The buses are part of a new trend of food truck round-ups on private properties, including parking lots.

fojol brothers, food truck, eat street, food network, washington post, food truck regulations, street food, indian food, ethiopian food, cookbook

Some, more extravagant round-ups include patio seating, canopies and entertainment like the events seen in California and Portland, Oregon. Vitarello and co-founder Peter Korbel plan to reinvigorate areas of D.C. and are working with food truck operators, private developers, businesses and arts organizations to bring street food to focused areas. They’re primarily focused on single areas that are removed from the spaces controlled by the District Department of Transportation and away from the major restaurant rows.

“The proposed stationary truck/bus venture may be in anticipation of a change in the vending regulations, or it may be a sign of a maturing industry that is adjusting its business model to mitigate the mobility ‘downside,’ ” Kathy Hollinger, the new president of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, says in an e-mail statement to the Post. She considers the cutthroat competition for parking spots one of the “downsides” for food trucks.


“Stationary, off-street vending of the type proposed by the Fojol Brothers is new to the District but well tested in other cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas,” Hollinger adds. “This type of ‘mobile’ vending is certainly worth looking at as the city struggles to manage the most popular public space for safety and accessibility by all concerned.”

fojol brothers, food truck, eat street, food network, washington post, food truck regulations, street food, indian food, ethiopian food, cookbook, stephen crouch

Stephen Crouch, a sculptor at the 52 O Street Studios, is the creative director for the buses. He’s transforming the buses into functional spaces, with the idea of getting them on the road by summer; the rehab work is expected to cost about $50,000, which the Fojol Bros. hope to finance via a Kickstarter campaign. Crouch figures, as of last week, that he has spent about two months working on the first bus: ripping out seats, stripping off layers of exterior paint and designing the interior for its role as part of the District’s street scene.

The spacious, turquoise-colored interior will be outfitted with modular components, such as tables that snap onto the old overhead hand rails, so the buses can take on various personalities, depending on the function. Read the full story

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.

  • Greg Gazin

    Great idea and new life for old buses! Brilliant!

    • StitchesnDishes

      Exactly! Sounds like a fun experience to dine in. I had dinner in a converted train dining car recently… except it’s been built on to the face of an actual building, so they can seat a couple hundred people. Still, sitting in the dining car for dinner was very cool.

  • John Philpin

    shared every which way – love how you keep discovering stuff like this Chris … BTW – dont forget to work out what you are going to do with your feed POST the google shut down

    • StitchesnDishes

      Thanks John! My problem is I discover so much more than I have time to write about. But, discovering it is 90% of the fun I suppose! Thanks for the reminder – Google. Bah!

  • StitchesnDishes

    I totally agree 100%. I’ve only eaten at one food truck where there was no place to sit down. That’s usually what will keep me from trying a truck actually. If there isn’t a place to sit down comfortably, I probably won’t want to eat there.

  • StitchesnDishes

    Wow, thank you Kevin! And I totally agree with you. I love this concept. We’ve got Le Truc in SF, but it’s different. It’s a single table dining room. The Fojol guys are really onto a great new concept.

  • StitchesnDishes

    I love that! Thanks Colin. That makes me want to visit Australia even more. :)

  • StitchesnDishes

    Thank you, Stuart! Their food does look awesome. I wish I could have been on their episode on the show. LOL Makes me want to visit DC again. It has been a long time… hmmmm… and they do have Pepe out there. hmmmm!

  • StitchesnDishes

    Thanks Anni! These guys are so fun. Great concept for sure.

  • StitchesnDishes