Street Food Profiles: Fojol Bros. of Merlindia in Washington, D.C.
Note: It's time for another edition of Street Food Profiles. This week we scoot to the nation's capitol—er, actually, Merlindia. Where (or what) is this you ask? A made-up land where the "merlin" prefix adds a magical vibe to traditional Indian cuisine.
Name: Fojol Bros. of Merlindia, a traveling culinary carnival operating out of a 1965 Chevy step van.
Vendors: Dingo, Kipoto, Gewpee, and Ababa-Du (aka Justin Vitarello, Peter Korbel, Adam Vitarello, and Will Carroll). The "brothers" (only two of whom are actually brothers) also added a little sisterhood: Bhujaja, Pinta Lu, Mewshah and Tu Tutu (Jenni Pfeiffer, Emily Williams, Robin Bettarel, and Molly Davis).
Location and hours? Varies but typically lunches and events or gatherings around the District.
What do you sell? Chicken masala, various curries, palak paneer, lentils, lassipops (frozen lassis on a stick), locally-made snacks and chips.
How long have you been street-fooding? Seven months.
You on Twitter? If so, how has it affected business? We are on Twitter (@FojolBros). Can't quantify but the Fojol Bros. think the Twitter stars are aligned with our concept.
Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar? The Fojol Bros. of Merlinida are a traveling culinary carnival so bricks-and-mortar were not really an option.
Typical customers? Any special regulars? We have a number of special people that visit Merlindia on a regular basis. There is one guy in particular who loves his pumpkin curry and his name is Donald. We love Donald. Our customers range from suit-wearing professional to Jose, our homeless friend and neighbor, and his street partner, "the Coyote."
Describe a typical day from start to finish. There is nothing typical about our days. A day usually starts with jumping jacks, Enya, and a steamy cup of beans. After calisthenics, the Fojol Bros. throw on their colored jumpsuits, do sleeve roll-ups, and dive headfirst into the culinary world of Merlindia. The Fojol Bros. then serve food to the masses.
What are/were you doing before this? Community organizing, real estate, go-go dancing, e-commerce, coaching, volunteerism, private equity emerging, and frontier market investing.
What makes your food so special? Can anything like it be found in the city? It's from Merlindia and we've cornered the Merlindian market so, no. Nowhere else can you find Merlindian fare but in the nation's capital.
How would you define "street food"? Affordable and sensational.
The best street food city and why. Little birds lead us to say it's Portland, New York City, and Los Angeles, but D.C. still has something to say.
Your comfort food after a long day? Pickles, chocolate milk, a lassipop, or just a cold glass of D.C.'s finest tap water.
Advice for an aspiring vendor? Be yourself and stay true to your gut.