Food truck brings the Aloha spirit to Fairhope

By Melanie LeCroy
Lifestyle Editor
melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 6/17/22

It's Tuesday morning, and Niu Faiupu is grilling his marinaded chicken in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5660 kitchen. A jumbo wok full of fried rice is ready to be portioned and added to the hot …

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Food truck brings the Aloha spirit to Fairhope

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It's Tuesday morning, and Niu Faiupu is grilling his marinaded chicken in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5660 kitchen. A jumbo wok full of fried rice is ready to be portioned and added to the hot box. He finishes the chicken and carries the loaded hot box to the small orange food truck parked in front of the building. In the parking lot, his first customers, three St. Michael Catholic High School football players fresh from practice, wait in their car.

The Aloha Made BBQ food truck may be small, but the big traditional Hawaiian flavors have brought the Aloha spirit to Fairhope.

Faiupu and wife, Raquel, grew up in Oahu, Hawaii, and moved to Fairhope in 2015 due to Raquel's career with the U.S. Army.

"Niu is an island boy type that always said he would never leave the rock. It was really hard, but we discussed it, prayed about it, and he said he was going to support my career. I let him choose our next duty station out of our choices, and it was Mobile, Alabama," Raquel said. "Speaking to people and my co-workers, we asked where a safe place was to raise kids with great schools. That is how we ended up in Baldwin County and Fairhope."

With a passion for family, food, hospitality and a desire to be his own boss, Faiupu decided he wanted a food truck. In April 2021, the family purchased the food truck, but life and work got in the way. After an injury at work, Faiupu spent his time off focusing on getting things together for the food truck.

One year to the day after purchasing the truck, Aloha Made BBQ held a soft opening. Shortly after, Faiupu resigned from his job to focus solely on family and the food truck.

When asked if it was an adjustment going from cooking for a family of eight to cooking for the truck, Faiupu laughed and said, "I have four sons to feed at home, so no."

Like most new business owners, the Faiupu family says the journey has been amazing but also difficult. Balancing six children, a new business and a mother stationed in another state has been trying, but their strong faith and the community support has kept them moving forward.

The menu is currently small but will continue to grow over time. Faiupu makes the marinade for the beef, pork and chicken. The cubes of pork are smoked daily, while the chicken and beef are grilled. The side items are traditional of what you would see in Hawaii, white rice or fried rice and mac (macaroni) salad. Customers have the option of ordering a plate with choice of one meat, white rice and mac salad or a combo plate with two or three meats and sides.

Staying true to the Hawaiian flavors is important, but some changes are unavoidable. Traditionally, Faiupu would use a Portuguese sausage in his fried rice, but he was unable to find it here so he uses the closest thing he could find — Conecuh. Thankfully, the sausage has been the only item that is hard to source.

In the few short months the truck has been open, customers have come from all over Baldwin County and Mobile to try the food, and the reviews on their Facebook page rave about the food and the customer service. They also have a solid base of regulars which is key to any business.

"We want people to feel that Aloha spirit because in Hawaii that is what we are used to," Raquel said. "Everyone is a big family. We want to build that trust and rapport with others so that they believe in our vision. Our end goal is to bring our culture here to South Baldwin and share that Aloha spirit with others because no matter where you go, you need that."

The Aloha Made BBQ food truck is located at 950 Nichols Ave., Fairhope. They are open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. The days and hours vary, so it is best to check their Facebook page.

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