A few years ago, Joey Hernandez, BS Health Science ’06, posed the question to her boyfriend, Tim Ma, an electrical engineer, “If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?” He said, “Own my own restaurant.” She said, “Well then, why don’t we?”
So, much to the chagrin of their parents, they quit their jobs, sold their cars, and moved to New York City where he attended the French Culinary Institute. Then in August 2009, after a short stopover in St. Thomas, they moved to Northern Virginia to launch their restaurant, Maple Ave, in Vienna.
The space may be small (their dining room holds nine tables), but Maple Ave packs a serious punch with dishes like Coconut Saffron Mussels and Maple Bacon Cupcakes. It wasn’t long before people caught wind of their farm-to-table philosophy and their inventive, delicious dishes. Then, last year, they joined DC’s food-truck-frenzy and took their show on the road.
From their pink-polka-dotted truck, MAX (Maple Ave Express), they offer a smaller, yet still stellar, menu. Hernandez says it’s an advantage to have a restaurant where they can cook some of what they serve on the road—like the pulled pork for their burritos and the ganache for their chocolate dumplings. And catering to the congested Metro area is actually a boon for business. “[At the truck], you can get good food fast, and you don’t have to drive anywhere,” Hernandez explains.
And if one of their usual locations is blocked off or packed with traffic? “We can move.”
“It’s not easy by any means,” she admits. Especially during this summer’s record-breaking heat. MAX has no air conditioning, and with a grill, fryer and a flat-top stove, Hernandez says, “It’s hotter in [the truck] than in my hot yoga class.”
But for now it seems, Hernandez can stand the heat. In fact, she has added a stop at Mason to the route (behind Thompson Hall), and is talking with the Alumni Association about the possibility of bringing the truck to campus in the fall. To find out where MAX will be next, check them out on Twitter, @Maple_Ave_147.