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From bracelets to burritos for Sandy Cameron

LIHU‘E — After losing her jewelry business during the pandemic last year, Chef Sandy Cameron of Lihu‘e decided it was time to make a different dream happen: owning a food truck.

And, Bandido’s Burritos of Kaua‘i opened its doors on Monday April 5th, stationed between The Garden Island Newspaper and Kaua‘i CrossFit in Lihu‘e, selling Mexican food inspired by a job she had cooking in a food truck years ago in California.

“I had a jewelry business at the waterfront, and because of COVID, I lost the business because cruise ships were not coming in,”Cameron said.

Cameron had a truck that had been sitting in her driveway for a couple of years, one she bought from Ana Munoz, former owner of La Bamba Mexican Restaurant at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e, and Mi Casita at Waipouli Plaza in Kapa‘a. So, she and her husband Timothy Casey, who works full-time at United Airlines as a mechanic, put about $30,000 into the vehicle to bring it up to par for use as a food truck. It took the couple a year to get inspections, permits and go through the steps required to legally own and run a food truck.

On opening day, Munoz stopped by to score a burrito and check in on the new business.

“I’m so excited for them and I wish them the best,” Munoz said as she stopped by for a visit. “This used to be our truck and now it has a new life now.”

With an established career as a chef already under her belt and space in the licensed kitchen across the street, Cameron said the endeavor is picking up steam.

Cameron wasn’t all that interested in starting a food truck before the pandemic triggered a loss of business at her jewelry shop. Though the family had the truck in their driveway and her husband kept bringing up the subject, Cameron said she was hesitant to jump on board with the dream, at first.

“I said I’m not giving up my jewelry business and I don’t want to be in a hot truck,” Cameron said. “But here we are.”

They chose the name Bandido’s Burritos of Kaua‘i in honor of the inspiration for the food — after the food trucks where Cameron used to work.

“They are called ‘Burrito Bandidos,’ and we are called ‘Bandido’s Burritos’,” Casey explained. “They are really good friends with her to this day.”

In addition to selling food at Bandido’s Burritos of Kaua‘i, the couple volunteers their skills in the Calvary Chapel soup kitchen and will start cooking for the soup kitchen every Friday of the month, starting at the end of April.

Inspired by their sons that play sports, the couple is also giving back to the community by supporting Kaua‘i youth sports in a variety of ways.

“We already donated to a baseball team before we sold a burrito,” Casey said. “A pony team called the ‘Marlins,’ that’s the 13-year-olds.”

Casey said they would like to coordinate a fundraiser or cook for high school baseball games in the future depending upon the restrictions surround Vidinha stadium.

“I don’t know if I got to get a daily permit over there,” Casey said. ” My boys are on the high school team.”

After her first two days of being open, Cameron expressed gratitude toward the Kaua‘i community.

“We thank you in advance for helping us out with our new business and I hope to feed as many people as I can with some delicious food,” Cameron said.

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Stephanie Shinno, education, business, and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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