Two years ago, fewer than six food trucks existed in South Florida. Now, there are more than 120.
In November 2009, Jim Heins sent out his first tweet as owner of Latin Burger and Taco.
He’d spent the previous year in the Caribbean, much of it in St. Bart’s, where Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write “Cheeseburger in Paradise” after spending time in a dive bar called Le Select.
“I should open a hamburger restaurant like the places I like to hang out in the Caribbean,” Heins remembers saying on his return to Miami. Within months, Heins had created what is believed to be the first food truck in South Florida. Before long, about a half-dozen food trucks roamed the streets of South Florida.
“How many food trucks are there now?” I ask Heins.
“There must be 125 plus,” he says. “About 100 too many.”
Call it good old-fashioned capitalism, but 2012 will surely be known as the great food truck shakeout. Some trucks will expand. Others will close. Latin Burger is looking to open not one, but two brick and mortar locations.
To keep tabs on what the trucks are selling and where they’re setting up shop, the Sun Sentinel has created an online food-truck directory at SunSentinel.com/foodtrucks. Here, you’ll find links to the websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of more than 110 South Florida food trucks. So whether you’re a vegan (Mac’n Soul Good) or a carnivore (Porkalicious), in the mood for a jerk-chicken sandwich (the Rolling Stove) or stromboli (Nana’s Original Stromboli), you can find a truck on the directory.
While Heins is hard at work finding space to open his first Latin Burger and Taco restaurants, his burgers can be periodically found on the menu of Tobacco Road in downtown Miami. They will reappear on the menu throughout February.
“The market has changed,” Heins says. “But early on, I recognized the power of the Latin Burger brand. The timing was right. TheFood Network covered us. I spent the last couple of years making sure we go the food right.”
Along with his own restaurants, Heins is exploring the possibility of offering frozen Latin Burger patties in supermarkets. “If we can master it,” he says, “we’ll do it frozen.”
After its success as a Miami restaurant, Sakaya Kitchen started a food truck called Dim Ssäm à gogo. Chef Ze Carlos Jimenez has opened the MexZican Gourmet restaurant on South Dixie highway in Miami, an outgrowth of his popular food truck. Likewise, Jefe’s Original Fish Taco and Burgers, Latin House Grill and Yellow Submarine are working toward the same goal, says Sef Gonzalez, who last year created a smartphone app to track Miami food trucks.
Gonzalez, who’s also known as the Burger Beast, gives an annual award to South Florida’s best food truck and best food-truck burger. He’s been monitoring the food-truck scene since its inception.
Find the entire article by John Tanasychuk, from the SunSentinel.com <here>