New Times' Best of Miami 2014 issue arrives June 19. To celebrate, Short Order is paying tribute to Miami's culinary all-stars. These people forged our city's food scene into what it is today -- a thriving amalgam of tastes and cultures. Through their insight and talent, they've given the city a unique flavor and paved the way for bright new chefs and restaurateurs to follow their lead and take the Miami food scene into the future.
Don't let the name fool you. Robert Is Here is a family-run operation. Though Robert Moehling Jr. started his Homestead fruit stand on his own, his family has been pitching in since day one. It was Robert's father who put him on the produce-selling track, when at age 6 he was asked to sell some cucumber crop on the street corner. Now, more than 50 years later, the fruit stand thrives in the same spot. Along the way, Robert's parents helped stock fruit and even came up with recipes for some of his lauded milkshakes, jarred preserves, and salad dressings. These days you'll notice Robert's wife, children, and in-laws all tending to the exotic array of fruits you won't find in the local supermarket produce department.
Amid rows of well-stocked jackfruit and custard apples, the eponymous store owner can be spotted socializing with longtime customers and newcomers. Upon your first visit, you'll instantly notice the personal touch. Simply ask, and Robert will be happy to give you the rundown on local seasonal fare and give you a sampling of some of the best mangoes South Florida offers.
It hasn't always been smooth sailing for the fruit-crazed family. Robert's business suffered through both the Christmas freeze of 1989 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Maybe it's the fresh produce, clean air, or homey setting, but the family still keeps its trademark brand of resilient positivity today.
In His Own Words
"My fruit stand, Robert Is Here, has been in the same location since 1959, when my father sent me to the corner to sell his cucumber crop. I believe my success is due to consciously making the decision very early on to run my business with honesty, integrity, and hard work.
"Since our marriage 33 years ago, my wife Tracey and I have tried to make our customers feel as if they were being welcomed home. We encourage them to try the foods they are unfamiliar with. Customer service is vital to achieving that goal and to encourage them to return. We expect all of our employees to go the extra mile by taking the time to explain how to eat the fruit, tell when it's ripe, and even cut the fruit for their convenience."
Miami Food All-Stars
25. Dewey LoSasso
24. Mark Soyka
23. Jason Starkman
22. Lorena Garcia
21. Barton G.
20. Mike Hampton
19. Chef Creole
17. Cindy Hutson
16. Jack Homes
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15. Shareef Malnik
14. Bruce Ozga
Let your voice be heard by voting in our Readers' Poll. Visit readerschoice.miaminewtimes.com by June 4. Then check out the 27th-annual Best of Miami issue, available online and in print Thursday, June 19, to see if your favorites won.