For the Marination Mobile team, the workday begins at 7 a.m. as they load up the truck, refill the gas tank and prep for lunch rushes sometimes as large as 200 people. Using Twitter to inform customers of their whereabouts, the staff crisscrosses Seattle in their sleek silver bullet.
When Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison, opened the street food truck in June of 2009, they never anticipated the success they would eventually achieve.
“We got into this as street food, before it was trendy,” said Saxton.
The two weren’t professionally trained as chefs. Edison is a University of Washington adviser and Saxton is a self-identified sports freak. But their diverse backgrounds perfectly lent themselves to their culinary aspirations. Saxton is from Hawaii, and Edison was born in Greece, though she spent three years in Romania and was raised by a Japanese mother.
The two combined forces and Marination Mobile was born, featuring a wide array of dishes, ranging from kimchi fried rice to spicy quesadillas sprinkled with cabbage. There are Spam sliders, miso ginger chicken tacos and the occasional special menu item.
Competition, of course, has grown with Marination Mobile’s popularity and Saxton insists that the food truck culture is great for the city as a whole.
“If Seattle becomes known for street food at an affordable price, that’s great for all,” she explained.
And despite being on wheels, Saxton said the truck actually allows for more interaction with customers.
“There’s no divide between the kitchen and the customers. Those that are cooking get to see each other. And there are no tables or chairs so customers are eating with each other.” Such an intimate and casual setting created loyal customers.
“Every location has its regulars,” said Saxton.
During one sunny day in South Lake Union, the truck posts up outside Cascade Center. Customers wait for as long as 40 minutes, contemplating their options and rethinking their orders.
Drivers will often report being wildly honked at as they drive down the road. And the Marination Mobile is even said to induce labor. On three separate occasions overdue mothers reported eating from the truck’s menu for lunch, and going into labor shortly thereafter.
The Marination Mobile was partly inspired by Kogi, a Korean taco truck from Los Angeles that has received near cult status. Saxton and Edison visited the like-minded business back in 2009 before opening their own.
Three years later, the truck has proved enormously successful and the team is redirecting that energy into expanded operations. They have 25 employees on staff, a catering arm, and plan to open a 4,000 square foot location in West Seattle’s Alki.
“We feel pretty fortunate,” said Saxton.
Follow Marination Mobile on Twitter @curb_cuisine.