Island Style Food to open North Side restaurant
Mobile service of Asian fusion menu to continueJanuary 19th, 2023
Island Style Food restaurant, which has been operated from a food truck for over two years, will have a permanent home this spring in the former Kabot’s Kitchen building, at 2931 N. Division.
Owner Nicholas DeCaro says he plans to open Island Style at the restaurant location in April. The restaurant will feature most of the dishes the food truck regularly serves, such as Hawaiian smoked pork, Filipino spring rolls called lumpia, and fried Spam on rice. He also plans to offer more fusion dishes, such as a mango bruschetta.
Initially, the restaurant likely will open for dinner service only.
“I’m excited, but also nervous that we’re going to outgrow this immediately. That’s a good problem,” DeCaro says.
Island Style opened as a food truck operation at the end of April 2020. DeCaro says it was a perfect time to open a food truck, as traditional restaurants were barred from seating patrons indoors at the time due to COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown restrictions.
“Our first two weeks, we had two-hour waits in line,” DeCaro says. “The line was going around the block.”
The food truck has been successful in increasing sales, which grew by more than 50% in 2021, compared with 2020, and have grown more than 67% over the past year, he claims.
Island Style currently employs six people. DeCaro says five additional employees will be hired to help staff the restaurant.
DeCaro says renovations to the 1,600-square-foot building include new flooring, lighting, interior and exterior paint, tables, and commercial kitchen appliances. A small concrete pad will be poured to accommodate an exterior walk-in freezer unit. DeCaro says he’s handling most of the work himself, except for the concrete pad.
DeCaro’s parents owned DeCaro’s Little Italy, a restaurant, bakery, deli, and gift shop on North Division, just north of downtown. He says he grew up helping his parents in Little Italy’s kitchen.
He says he inherited his palate from his mother, who is of Filipino, Chinese, and Chamorro descent. The Chamorro people are indigenous to the Mariana Islands, including the U.S. territory of Guam.
“I learned a lot from her, and I grew up having more of a flavor connection with the Islander and Filipino and Chinese side of my family,” DeCaro says. “My dad can eat pasta every day, but for me, it’s rice.”
DeCaro says he was attending Whitworth University when the idea for Island Style was born. His cousin, who owns a towing and mechanic shop, had the truck but hadn’t decided what to do with it. DeCaro suggested they create a food truck serving Pacific Islander and Filipino food.
“The next day after class, my cousin called me and said, ‘All the equipment’s on the way,’” DeCaro says. “It happened that fast.”
He says he took a servant leadership class at Whitworth that was was important to the launch of the food truck. After he brought up his idea for Island Style in class one day, the other students jumped on board to help make DeCaro’s dream a reality. The food truck became a class project, with students splitting into teams for analytics, social media development, and business development.
“I ended up implementing almost all the tools everybody put together,” DeCaro says. “Probably 10 or 12 of them still come to the truck all the time.”
In addition to opening the new restaurant, Island Style will continue to run mobile operations, although DeCaro says he plans to swap out the food truck for a concession trailer to be pulled by a pickup truck.
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