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Custom Food Trucks Gain Popularity in Hawaii

Custom Food Trucks Gain Popularity in Hawaii

Aside from the natural beauty, luaus, and volcanic eruptions, Hawaii is one of the latest locations to step into the food truck frenzy. In fact, custom food trucks are continuing to gain popularity in Hawaii as the industry as a whole has reached over $1 billion {source:}. One of the top reasons for hopping on the food truck wagon is that the real estate in Hawaii is one of the priciest per square foot. Consequently it only makes economical sense for restaurants and business owners to build custom food trucks that can travel to touristy locations and events across the islands. If a business owner can't justify the brick and mortar startup and operating costs, why not bring the vision to life and bring the food truck to the people!?

Custom Food Trucks Gain Popularity in Hawaii

Not all specialty food truck builders work with restaurants and entrepreneurs in Hawaii, however APEX Specialty Vehicles recently completed a build for a customer in Wahiawa, Hawaii.  Sunset Q's owner approached APEX Specialty Vehicles with a vision to bring the southern-style BBQ cuisine to Hawaii. APEX's design and engineering team took their goal of replicating authentic Texas barbecued smokehouse meats to the residents of the Hawaiian islands and implemented a plan. The 3D renderings and engineering specs focused on the nostalgic memories of the Sunset Q owner's BBQ cuisine from the Austin, TX region. In Austin, he honed in on his pit master skills and ended up moving to Hawaii. His passion of Texan BBQ was always there, so the vision came to fruition.

Sunset Q is a custom-built BBQ truck that serves craft meats that are hand-selected and nurtured throughout the entire smoking process. This is quite a differentiation from other BBQ food trucks, because the process is nearly 12 - 18 hours of slow smoking on the Ole Hickory Pits smoker, which is mounted in the rear of the truck. The process is not rushed but appreciated. The results of the long and slow smoking process is an undeniable mouth-watering flavor of authentic Texas BBQ from a location over 9 hours away across the ocean.

In addition to Sunset Q in Hawaii, check out this list of 10 of the Top Food Trucks and Roadside Stands in Hawaii. 

When exploring the design and build of a custom food truck or trailer, it's important to understand the differences in a trailer and truck build and functionality.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on a food truck and food trailer, including the following:

The obvious difference between a food truck and food trailer is the platform. A food truck is built into a step van base, and has the limitations in size, height and weight. A food trailer, if built custom by an experienced builder, can be built to any length and has greater flexibility with the overall build-out.

Another factor to consider maneuverability. One of the biggest benefits of a food truck is having the kitchen and vehicle completely mobile, in an all-in-one mobile business. A compact food truck is easier to travel between events, catering gigs, and festivals, as well as maneuver in tight parking areas. If you plan on servicing a highly populated city, a food truck is a viable option because you can easily hop in the truck and relocate, without worrying about leveling the trailer, hookups, and finding the right spot for a trailer.


Food trucks are contained within a Ford or Freightliner step van chassis. Depending on the year of the truck, mileage, and condition, many issues can contribute to costly repairs on the truck, not even considering the equipment inside. For high-end builders like APEX Specialty Vehicles, the craftsmanship is warranted. APEX also has a sister company, MAG Trucks, that offers new and used step vans specifically for food trucks. This allows the APEX team full access to hundreds of step vans to fit our client’s needs and budget.

While having your kitchen on wheels in one single unit has attractive benefits, it also has cons. If your truck breaks down your business operation comes to a halt until your truck is repaired. This serves as an important reminder to always understand the warranty offered on not only the craftsmanship and kitchen equipment within the truck, but also the truck itself. As an example, APEX offers a 5-year warranty for each custom food truck. APEX supports and facilitates the repair process for any warranty/craftsmanship issues, no matter where in the country the truck is located.

Not all food trailers are built equally. APEX Specialty Vehicles builds trailers from the ground up. APEX started this unique build process because of the quality of trailer, equipment, and higher failure rates they saw with new clients who had built with other fabricators. APEX trailers are made to withstand the weight of a fully functional kitchen, and staffs a full-time engineering team to properly calculate the mechanics of this. It is crucial if you are going to have a trailer to ensure there is proper weight distribution or you could run into big problems in the future.


From foldable stages and expandable sides to interior workstations and custom-divided rooms, a trailer can be designed and built with many versatile options. The cool feature of custom food trailers is the ability to think outside of the figurative box. When looking at the design and engineering elements of a custom trailer, the need for a partner with an experienced trailer fabricator is imperative. Not all food trailer builders have the technology, experience, and engineering support to build a custom food trailer that meets code while providing an effective and efficient workflow throughout the unit.

APEX trailers are far from standard supplier quality. APEX trailers are hand-built from the ground-up. Every inch of the framework, walls, axles, roof, and floor are custom-built by an in-house team of talented and experienced craftsman. The durability and performance of each food trailer that hits the road is undeniably the highest quality amongst all of the food truck builders.

APEX’s lead engineer speaks about the build differences in a food truck and food trailer. “Customers find food trailers to be a good fit when they need a specific size, because trailers can be built to an exact size and are a bit wider and taller. Trucks cannot, and are restricted to 2-foot length increments. With either platform, the most important factor to food trucks and trailers is weight. Trailers bring another layer of logistics with a towing vehicle, so that should be a consideration as well.”

The interior of a food truck can be customized to fit your business objectives, however you need to have the right builder in place to implement those customizations. From knowing which are the best appliance brands for custom food trucks, to making suggestions about an eye-catching exterior design; the proper customizations within a food truck should come from an experienced and well-versed builder.

The layout of your custom food truck is 100% the most important factor in your food assembly process and employee efficiency. This should be the combined effort of your team and the builder’s design and engineering team. Each aspect of the interior layout should align with your vision. If the employees inside of the food truck are tripping over each other, or don’t have the right equipment in the right spot, it can have detrimental results - long wait times, irritated customers, an unpolished appearance, and even put employees in danger of injury.


Food Trucks
APEX Specialty Vehicles begin their custom food truck builds at $100,000. The industrial-grade appliances, high quality steel and metalwork, and ISO 9001 certified processes in place with each build allow APEX to continue building with clients who endure a 98% business success rate. With over 700 custom builds in their 11 years, APEX understands the importance of investing in the design and engineering before the build process even begins. Our team is invested in your project from the beginning.

Food Trailers
Custom food trailers do carry additional expenses beyond the trailer itself. A trailer will require a truck with the ability to pull the food trailer from point A to point B. The truck will need to be capable of carrying the food trailer and be within code. An experienced driver should accompany the truck and trailer.


Client Testimonials
Ask your potential builder for a list of clients, and spend some time reaching out to those clients asking the candid questions. Also spend some time looking at their social media accounts to find the food truck or trailer in action. How does it look in the real operable environment?

The list above just touches on the questions that one may ask when interviewing a food truck or trailer builder, but it begins the dialogue and allows you to gain better insight into the expertise of the custom builders.

Specialty builders like APEX Specialty Vehicles build the highest quality trucks and trailers for clients of all segments, and across the United States, including Hawaiian Islands. From Fortune 500 companies and restaurants to professional sports teams to entrepreneurs, APEX has an in-house design and engineering team to custom projects.

Want some additional inspiration for your custom food truck or trailer?

Custom Food Trucks Gain Popularity in Hawaii

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