STOCKTON, Calif. — Just two miles east of where hundreds of loyal customers line up to taste a unique take on southeast Asian cuisine in Stockton, Johnny Khammanah is hard at work.
"Right now, we're just redoing the floors and painting the walls," said Khammanah owner of the popular "Johnny Wokker" food truck. "I got a buddy who is doing a mural there. It looks really nice right now."
Instead of taking his usual position behind the wok at his food truck near Swain Road and El Dorado Street, Khammanah has been spending the past several months working on his dream-- a new brick-and-mortar restaurant slated to open soon.
"Man, I talked about this probably 15-plus years ago," said Khammanah. "It feels kind of unreal because just from where I come from and how I grew up, but we're trying to make it happen every step of the way."
Since the age of 11, Khammanah's happy place has been in the kitchen.
While he doesn't know exactly when he will start serving crab fried rice, drunken noodles or any of his more than 20 other mouthwatering, made-to-order dishes at the new location yet, Khammanah has already felt the community's support.
"I feel very blessed. I really appreciate the community and just all of our supporters throughout the whole valley," said Khammanah, adding that people frequently travel from the Bay Area to visit his truck. "It's been pretty overwhelming sometimes."
An overwhelming response of support from the community is the same feeling that Khammanah got just seven months ago when a longtime friend and food truck employee Terry Toeurn was killed in a triple shooting.
The two had dreamed of one day opening up the permanent location.
"He was my friend a long time ago and when he helped me in this food truck right here, we always talked about this, trying to get a building," said Khammanah. "I feel that, you know, he kind of looked out for me."
Now that vision will become a reality when he opens the new location in Stockton's Calaveras Shopping Center at 1139 March Lane. Khammanah encourages people to follow his social media accounts and wait for a grand opening announcement soon.
For now, he and his team will keep painting and constructing their dream into reality.
"We're trying to get ready and put on our 'A game,'" said Khammanah. "We started about three and a half years ago, but I planned this long ago."
Watch more Stockton stories from ABC10: Customers fundraise to give Stockton restaurant owner a vacation