Learning to follow through, I am learning, is more of an exercise in doing rather than thinking. Performing hundreds of mental push-ups to force a personal change and hoping for good results doesn’t tend to actually yield anything useful. Getting into the habit of rolling out of bed at the same time every morning has less to do with thinking hard about it, and more to do with just throwing your feet on the floor as soon as you hear the alarm go off.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that everything we do has to start with a thought. I am just not convinced that the key to success starts with an overly-detailed plan. In fact, when compared to just doing it, I wonder if it’s effective at all.
I wanted to talk to someone about my theory. Someone who was taking an idea, big or small, and making it happen without getting bogged down in the planning to see how they were making it work.
I needed some inspiration.
My search led me to a little food truck in the parking lot of KSM on 400 North.
I had heard nothing but positive reviews about the unassuming restaurant on wheels since they opened only a few weeks ago, but had yet to stop in for myself. Although the truck is new on the scene, “Aloha Boys” Logan Henline and Darian Daniels are by no means new to island cooking. Logan’s parents– who double as Logan and Darian’s business partners– have operated successful restaurants in Cache Valley for years under well-known names such Pounders and LaBeau’s.
The Aloha Boys themselves have also spent years working as employees at the family businesses, and at other restaurants in town, churning out traditional Henline-family recipes. It was soon apparent, however, that Aloha Boys was a whole different beast. These were the Aloha “boys” after all, and they were the ones running the show this time.
I wanted to see the inner workings and ask them about their experiences. Logan and Darian graciously agreed to give me a sneak peek behind the scenes, and tell me what made them tick. I showed up early before they opened to get the scoop, and Logan met me inside.
The truck was a beauty, but not in any conventional way. The rented, re-purposed corn dog truck that the Aloha Boys called home for 8+ hours a day didn’t look like much, but it had everything they needed. It was retro, but the boys kept it clean and made it work.
With only a half hour to go until the truck opened up for the day, I asked Logan where his partner was, as Darian hadn’t yet reported for duty. Logan told me they split duties and it was Darian’s turn to do the morning shopping. I asked him if that was a euphemism for sleeping in. Logan laughed and explained that in fact, Darian had been in charge of staying after and cleaning up the night before, and it was Logan’s turn to open. I asked how having two twenty-something best friends both being the boss was working out for them.
“We just switch off every now and again,” he explained. “I will prep, and he will clean, and we switch.”
I browsed the menu in the window while Logan continued to set up, and I noticed something I hadn’t seen anywhere else before. It was called a “Snowball” and the description I got from Logan was tantalizing: a ball of rice stuffed with shredded pork and cheese, breaded and fried. This homemade style appeared to be a common theme throughout the rest of the menu, and it was clear that this wasn’t just another stereotypical Hawaiian food restaurant; this was as mom-and-pop as it got.
I asked him how much it would cost me to get my hands on one, trying my best not to sound desperate.
“I got you,” Logan replied with a laugh.
Darian had arrived and began setting up the exterior of the truck for business. It was almost time to open, and I wanted to ask some questions before customers started to arrive. They had sold out of food several times since opening due to unpredictably high demand, and the beautiful weather outside signaled it would be another busy day today.
I knew Darian before Aloha Boys. He used to hang out with my little brother, Layne, in high school and play video games at my house. I understood how Logan found himself doing what he was doing, but I didn’t get how Darian fit in.
“How did this all start for you?” I probed.
“I grew up in the kitchen with my mom,” he said, moving a tub of macaroni salad from the fridge to a bin full of ice on the counter. “I grew up around great families, you know… I grew up around that culture of Hawaiian food and island cooking. I have always had a love and a passion for it, and have worked in quite a few restaurants, and have always felt like I could do this.”
The service window had only been open for a minute and the first customer of the day had arrived. He ordered the mythical “Snowball.” I was growing anxious to receive my own, but I became distracted watching Darian take the customer’s order and Logan prepare the meal. It was like watching an old married couple work in the kitchen. They jokingly bickered back and forth with each other and the customer, both bouncing jovially as they moved throughout the truck. They didn’t look like two bored kids just here to earn a paycheck. In fact, they were having a good time.
“When did you guys know this was really going to happen?” I asked. I wanted to know what it felt like to cross the threshold from an idea into a living, breathing business.
“It honestly happened so fast,” Logan chimed in. I had just started another job like two days before [at Conservice], and the opportunity came up… I had to quit”
Darian echoed the sentiment. He also had quit his job to “spread the Aloha,” as he put it. When I asked him what got him out of bed in the morning, his answer genuinely surprised me. It wasn’t about the thrill and excitement of being his own boss in his early 20’s, it was about sincerely loving what he did.
“This food makes me happy and I want to share that with other people.”
Several take-out orders had come in, and things were starting to pick up. This was my cue to split. But before I left, there was still one order of business left to take care of:
The guys kindly allowed me to document and share the whole process start to finish:
Yes, it was as good as it looks. Probably even better if you consider that my camera cannot process smell. It was cooked perfectly, and the melted cheese and pork mixture oozed out as I plunged my fork past the crunchy shell surrounding the mantle of warm, moist rice. It was well worth the wait.
I packed up my things and exited the truck to order my lunch. I couldn’t decide if I was more excited about the mac salad or the hand-cut chunks of fried chicken soaked in a spicy teriyaki sauce they call “Sparkplugs.” When I tried to pay, they refused.
“I told you, we got you, man…Good luck with your writing too.”
They handed me my order with some extra napkins for the road. Needless to say, I was impressed. I didn’t know what to expect when I first reached out to Logan and Darian about showing me around and honestly, a part of me wanted to see if it was all just a fluke. In a day and age where the Millennial generation is often viewed as a self-absorbed, spoiled and entitled lot, it was refreshing to see a case where this stereotype didn’t hold water. Here were two kids really making it happen. They had taken an idea and run with it, and they hadn’t waited for written permission to do so.
It was the inspiration I desperately needed. With fall semester drawing near a close, and the nasty election season coming to an end, I was burned out. Homework, housework, and my writing could wait until after the next episode of Person of Interest. I had no desire to do anything but lay in bed. But something Darian said really made me question how I was going about it all.
“It is the love in the food that makes it different,” he said. “People can taste the love.”
I hadn’t even considered it before, but I knew this was the answer. I thought that becoming consistent and developing long-term habits was about willpower-no thinking and just doing. But I was completely wrong. Becoming consistent requires finding a reason to love what you are doing, even if that reason is hard to determine. If it is something you truly want to accomplish, there will always be a reason to love it. Whether it is a math assignment or putting away the dishes, the real secret to following through is finding and tasting the love.
You can find the Aloha Boys on 4oo North and just west of Main Street in Logan, Utah next to KSM Music most days of the week. For a detailed location schedule and hours of operation, please visit their Facebook page @Alohaboys808