Updated: Aug 15, 2021
This is astory about how Bob and Rena put their heart and soul in every dish, have never sold a single-use plastic bottle ever (and never will) and were reminded by our founder why they started a Hawaiian food truck in the first place.
Deep in the heart of the California Mountains, nestled in the popular June Lake Brewery parking lot, is a Hawaiian food truck that will make your mouth-water just by reading its specials. Delicious Honolulu noodles with pork or chicken, remixed poke bowls, sweet and spicy tacos, and an infamous Mango-tango dessert are just a taste of the Hawaiian-soul food menu. A menu that gets people to line up around the block, and often sells out quickly.
In fact, three short years-ago when the couple moved back from Hawaii to California and opened up the truck, they couldn’t keep up with the orders. This left its staff feeling overwhelmed and pushed to their mental and physical limits, as even more orders slid across the board.
"Every day ended with one of us in tears — but we never quit,” remembered Hawaiian-native Bob McCullough, who owns the food truck with his wife, Rena. “We cleaned up, stumbled down to Gull Lake for a team splash in the water, took a look around at this beautiful country, and found the resolve to do it all again the next day, with gratitude.”
Gratitude and service is what drives the Ohanas395 food truck, and transforms it from a simple kitchen to the community’s gift. The word “Ohana” means family in Hawaiian, and for Bob and Rena, the added “s” signifies their mission to serve more than a single family at time. It also means the opportunity to serve underprivileged school kids with healthy, organic meals, raise funds for families in need and pay respect to the Earth and its gifts with environmental advocacy and conservation efforts.
“In Hawaii, food is love. When you visit people, you feed them. That’s why we don’t just sell tacos. We sell experiences. We cook ‘Aloha’ into every dish,” said Rena, explaining how Aloha stands for the energy of love and connection. “I choose to serve something I feel good about — something that’s in alignment with my heart and soul, which is the planet and the future for our kids.”
The kismet connection
While this family-friendly food truck has been driving love into action for almost a decade now, with its humble beginnings taking root way back in 2013, it was only a few years ago that a certain Hawaiian-native took note of it.
By then, the truck had learned, grown and its owners weren’t shedding tears when their food ran out and orders piled up. But it still had a line of waiting patrons from the moment the window opened for the day, until the very last order was taken.
It was one, regular day when Rena heard a voice coming from the back door asking, “Hey sistah… you got Hawaiian sun? You got kālua pork?”
It was the voice of actor and Mananalu owner, Jason Momoa. In that moment, the whole truck staff froze, giddy with excitement. It was then that Rena responded, telling him join everyone else and wait in line.
“I simply felt the same honor that I feel every time I get to feed someone from Hawaii,” said Rena, adding that Jason and his family happily waited their turn, before connecting with the truck more. "We spent some time with him and we all felt a connection to Hawaii, to food, to the Aloha spirit. It made me miss Hawaii in a way I couldn’t put aside. He reminded me why we want to bring Aloha to the eastern Sierra.”
The Conscience Connection
While Jason might have come for the Hawaiian-style, slow cooked pork shoulder made with Aloha spirit— it was the mutual connection and dedication to the environment that truly bonded them.
Ohanas395 is committed to finding and selecting organic, fresh ingredients sourced from local farms in the area to help reduce waste and lessen the overall eco-footprint. By selecting healthy plants, it also highlights and honors Mother Earth, and it's many natural resources and gifts, in true Hawaiian fashion. In fact, many of their dishes are even vegetarian or vegan, but every dish is served with biodegradable plates, sugarcane forks and a strict “no plastic” attitude.
“We’re extremely conscientious about our ‘no plastic’ policy. I’m not going to break my back to make thoughtful dishes from Mother Earth, and then hand someone a plastic bottle that will kill her,” said Rena, adding that she is so committed to this philosophy that she has even turned away customers who have asked for single-use plastic bottles.
By doing so, Ohanas395 is playing a large part in keeping unnecessary trash, and more specifically, plastic, out of both landfills and the nearby, majestic ocean waters that connect Hawaii and California, and ensure the health of the blue planet. It is this balance of serving up loving, soul foods with a bowl-full of eco-friendly, eco-first dining that lingers on the taste buds and consciences of its customers.
“Nobody wants to kick trash on their hiking trail or surf around plastic waste on the waves. People drive hours to see the oceans, not the litter,” said the McCulloughs. “Respect where you live and love what you get off the land. Food and water are the great connectors. We all need those things, so why not choose the good things.”
It is clear why Mananalu is overjoyed to partner with this eco-focused, entrepreneurial company with strong roots in Hawaii and a strong admiration for Mother Earth. They not only make delicious foods, but they make them with love for every person who lines up for it, with love for every farmer who grows the vegetables and fruits, and with love for the planet that nourishes us each and every day.
“We’re not here to make a quick buck. We don’t want to be business managers. We want to be an Ohana — a family,” said Rena and Bob, true inspirations and proud members of the Mananalu family.