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Owners put Melt truck in park, disappointing fans

By Gary C.W. Chun

LAST UPDATED: 2:24 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

The popular food truck Melt has served its last gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.

Melt was one of the mobile eateries at the forefront of a growing food truck movement that has since blossomed into the monthly Eat the Street festival in Kakaako.

After word of Thursday's closing got out via social media, Melt's sandwiches sold at such a volume that orders were halted an hour and 15 minutes after its 11 a.m. opening at the truck's regular parking spot on Ward Avenue near Sports Authority.

The assortment of triple melt, tomato basil melt, pastrami melt and signature Melt of Shame sandwiches were assembled and sold by co-owners Lindsey Ozawa and Martha Cheng at a steady pace.

There were as many as 40 hungry patrons in line, some texting away with smartphones. Some had to be turned away when Cheng came out from behind the truck's grill to make the disappointing announcement that they had run out of food.

"We prepped for normal service, but most of our orders were, at a minimum, three sandwiches per, so we ended up running out of cheese before anything else," said Ozawa, former executive chef at Nobu in Waikiki.

Fans of the gooey, melted-cheese sandwiches can take solace in the news that Ozawa and fellow co-owners Cheng and Alejandro Briceno are looking into reopening Melt sometime in the future, only this time as a "brick-and-mortar" operation.

"It's become a good brand with a good following," Ozawa said.

In the meantime, Ozawa will bring his full attention to his new restaurant, Prima, which he plans to open in early September in the Foodland complex on Hekili Street in Kailua.

With a wood-burning pizza oven already in place, Ozawa said he will start off with an Italian-based menu, although he might add items based on his additional training in French and Japanese cuisine.

"The advantage of starting the food truck first was the low startup cost. With a restaurant it's five to six times more. That's a lot of money, so I have to make sure that Prima will be successful," he said.

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