A Charlottesville woman is asking the public’s assistance to find her missing food truck.
Khadija’s Kitchen’s food truck was last seen at Seminole Square Shopping Center in a permitted parking spot around 2 p.m. last Thursday. When business owner Khadija Hemmati returned Friday evening, the 14-foot black trailer was gone. The trailer’s license plate number is 318429TM, she said.
“I cried a lot on Saturday. So many people and this community have supported me, and I don’t know how long insurance will be able to cover for me,” Hemmati told The Daily Progress. “My family and I are hurting right now. We have lost our only income.”
Hemmati said she was well on her way to achieving the American dream. The single mother of five immigrated from Afghanistan nearly seven years ago seeking a better life. She was naturalized last Fourth of July.
“I wanted to focus on my business and create the best service and high-quality food. A year after my family moved here, I got divorced and am the only one to provide for my five kids,” Hemmati said. “I wanted to introduce Afghan food to the area because it is not well known.”
Hemmati quit her job in 2018 to pursue her passion full-time and has traveled the commonwealth serving up Afghan cuisine.
“I traveled around the state to Williamsburg, Richmond, Charlottesville and throughout Albemarle with my kids for the last few years. I have been trying to achieve my dream,” Hemmati said. “We were working hard to improve business and expand to bigger levels, and we were doing great.”
Her business was going so well that she was able to secure a loan to buy a food truck in May.
“The truck helped me and my five kids improve our business. We didn’t have to run around as a vendor selling out of a tent and unloading and reloading stuff into the back of the car. We were able to become more professional,” Hemmati said.
The truck was outfitted with state-of-the-art new equipment that provided everything the business needed to continue to grow, she said.
“We had a stove, an oven, a fridge, a freezer, tables, a specially made sink, a water heater, a generator, two propane tanks and more inside of the truck. Everything that we needed to operate the business was inside, and it was all brand new,” Hemmati said.
She did not, however, have enough money to purchase a logo to put on the side of the trailer, she said. Now she fears it will make the lost food truck harder to find.
“I am really upset I didn’t have enough money to put a logo. If we had a logo, the trailer would have been much harder to steal. It’s really easy to sell a trailer without a logo,” Hemmati said.”
Hemmati said she is worried about how she is going to provide for her kids and pay upcoming bills.
“I don’t know what to do right now. I have so many bills I have to pay and have so many events coming up. Without the food truck, I don’t know how much longer I’ll last,” Hemmati said through tears. “Since it’s missing, I already have lost a lot of business on Saturday where we were supposed to sell at a local winery. Also, so many events were coming up for me as the summer continued.”
Hemmati has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help her and her children while police search for the missing food truck.
While she said she has been in contact with police, the Charlottesville Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Progress on the matter.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the anonymous CrimeStoppers tip line at (434) 977-4000.