Growing up in Hawaii, Lahaina DeMello’s grandmother took her out for breakfast every morning.
“I love, love, love breakfast,” she says.
Breakfast might just be DeMello’s favorite meal of the day, so it makes sense that she’d open a food truck devoted to waffles.
Lahaina’s WaffleDogs truck officially opened earlier this month and serves all kinds of waffles on a stick. Get a classic Belgian waffle or Nathan’s hot dog sandwiched into your breakfast favorite. There’s a pepperoni and mozzarella waffle with a side of marinara for dipping. DeMello’s favorite is the breakfast version with sausage. Dessert waffles are also in preparation, such as a caramel and walnut turtle version.
“I love the idea that it’s waffles and that I can make it in the morning and also in the evening,” DeMello says. “If it were me, I would totally get a waffle and sausages in the evening. I would drizzle it with a little syrup and it’s just comforting.
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DeMello also owns Lahaina’s Shave Ice food truck, which you may have seen at local events serving the colorful shaved ice of your dreams. (In Hawaii, DeMello says it’s called shaved ice — not shaved ice.)
“My husband and I have always juggled the idea of starting our own business,” she says. “My husband does a lot of renovations on his own, but we wanted to do something together. Then the pandemic hit and it was a really strange time – I don’t know how else to say it. Somehow, shaved ice showed up – and it’s something I can relate to and it’s something I can get behind.
DeMello knew instantly that Lahaina’s Shave Ice would be a hit.
“My husband built the trailer and we went from there,” she says. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of support from the community.”
When sourcing shave ice, DeMello leans on tropical flavors: lychee, coconut, lilicoi.
“I find that people’s (favorites) depend on where they come from and what they grew up with. “I always take ‘tiger blood with cream on it’ because someone would take them everywhere and that’s what they always had,” DeMello says. “Some people really like cotton candy and bubble gum, which are flavors I didn’t originally have.”
Even though Tucson winters can be warm, a frozen treat in the middle of December isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea. DeMello was looking for an idea for a winter food truck – and WaffleDogs was born.
“The shaved ice is grandiose and so good,” she says. “But it’s still a little difficult (in winter) – we can do it, but it’s not like most of the year. We were juggling ideas about the how and the what, so we created WaffleDogs.
Although DeMello misses Hawaii, she loves Tucson.
“The ocean is the only thing missing,” she says.
Food trucks won’t always come out at the same time, but you can follow their schedules on Instagram to see where they’ll be next. Find Lahaina WaffleDogs here and Lahaina Shave Ice here.
Gloria was born and raised in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2018. From wildflowers to wildlife, she loves all things Tucson and hopes to share her love of the city with readers ✨