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Posted at 6:25 PM ET, 12/15/2010

Fojol's Benethiopia truck to take long hiatus

By Tim Carman
fojol image_opt.jpg Fojol Bros. founder Justin Vitarello in warmer times. (Washington Post archive photo)

It seems the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck is not the only vehicle taking time off the streets this holiday season. The Fojol Bros.' Benethiopia truck, which debuted this fall, plans to take a hiatus this winter, starting sometime late next week.

The truck won't return to the streets until mid-February. What gives?

It seems the truck's husband-and-wife operators, Russell Bailey and Lula Habte, are headed back to Ethiopia for a long vacation. Bailey, a friend of Fojol founder Justin Vitarello since their days together at St. Albans, married Habte in Ethiopia, where the couple plans to spend the next six weeks visiting family.

"We not mature enough of an operation to take over the cooking" from Bailey and Habte, says Vitrarello during a phone interview.

When the couple returns, Benethiopia will begin normal operations, peddling its concise menu of Ethiopian finger food. The mobile Ethiopian eatery started out following the original Merlindia truck, but Vitarello discovered that the two vehicles were cannibalizing each other's business. They have since split routes, which will continue when Benethiopia resumes operation in February.

By Tim Carman  | December 15, 2010; 6:25 PM ET
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