In a crowded coffee shop on College Hill, 22-year-old entrepreneur Vilada Khammahavong describes her original vision for her business. “I really wanted my customers to feel like the food that I was giving them is something I would give to my friends,” she says with the same gusto and energy that fuels her one-woman show that is her little black food truck. Kow Kow’s foodstuff is almost Suessian – fresh waffles with globular bubbles wrapped around flower-shaped, pastel-colored scoops of ice cream filling (with fruit toppings, of course!). This food sparks intense internal conflict; you don’t know whether you want to stuff your gob upon receipt or save it for a perfect Instagram shot in front of your favorite cityscape.
Originally, Kow Kow was supposed to offer a Lao soup native to the Southeast Asian country. But after Vilada discovered that selling soup out of a food truck would be too difficult, she refocused her business plan on another one of her childhood favorites.
“The waffles I actually grew up eating in Boston, but I knew nowhere in Rhode Island had them...I saw that it was becoming a really big trend to make these waffles and put ice cream in them.”
So, she jumped on the waffle train and brought the playful dessert to Providence. As a native Rhode Islander, Vilada feels it is important to support other local businesses. The waffles are made by Vilada herself, but the ice cream is sourced from Warwick Ice Cream. As the CEO and only employee, the youthful owner admits that the food truck life is a grind, but she hopes that her hard work will pay off.
Vilada’s dream is to have a more sedentary work week in her own brick-and-mortar store. But for now, Kow Kow is working on putting flavored tea items on its menu and collaborating with other food trucks to serve city-goers different waffle combinations.
Find Kow Kow parked near 85 Waterman Street, Providence, Wednesday-Saturday from 5-9pm and Sunday from 1-5pm.