Latin Burger and Taco, the hot pink-and-black roving burger joint, has finally found a permanent parking space after four years of driving around town. Oh, but don't worry..the original truck will still be out and about.
Latin Burger opening a brick and mortar space right on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, in the former BGR: The Burger Joint space. The decor will feature re-purposed barn wood and custom artwork, along with the original food truck's pink flames. The restaurant is scheduled to open sometime in December, 2013.
On the menu, the signature Latin Macho burger will be featured prominently. "Our hamburger is what made us famous. We were named best burger in Miami and were featured on Travel Channel's Burger Land", said owner Jim Heins.
The perma-Latin Burger will also feature an expanded menu, with a larger selection of tacos, including the tomitillo, taco macho, pulled pork (Heins' mother's recipe), and portobello. "We'll start with what works, then we'll expand and make some unique sauces." Heins said that first and foremost, he wants to make sure people have a great experience,"We're keeping the personality of the food and the truck, but now you get to sit down, have great service, grab a beer, and watch the Heat game."
In addition to food, Latin Burger will offer a curated selection of craft beer (draft and bottles) and wine -- with Heins planning on giving away a "cold one" while you wait for your food to be cooked to order.
Fans of the food truck will also see some familiar faces behind the counter. Most of the food truck staff will make the transition to brick and mortar, too. "They're my guys. They've been with me for years. We're in this together. We all believe in what we're trying to accomplish. I didn't do this on my own. We've done this together. There's a lot of synergy."
Heins said that he was looking around at a few different locations, before deciding on Miracle Mile. "In the food truck business, I learned that we did better if I went where there was a crowd. So, I didn't want to be in a small strip center. I figured if I was going to do this I was going to do this right and this space just seemed ideal to expand my concept.
Though the truck came before the shop, that wasn't the original plan. "That was back in 2009 and to open a restaurant on South Beach, I was looking at a million dollar investment at that time. Then, I saw some food trucks on TV and I literally ordered a truck the next day from Food Cart USA. A few weeks later this truck showed up. I was like, "Oh my God, I just bought a food truck."
Before signing the papers, the restaurateur-to-be sought the advice of some friends in the biz. " I have great people that I consider friends that give me advice. Richard Hales from Sakaya Kitchen, David Garcia from La Camaronera, Patrick Gleber from Tobacco Road, and Stephen Sawitz from Joe's Stone Crab. They all said that I really have to go to the next level."
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The food truck entrepreneur said that he wanted to play by the numbers. "I refused to put a nickel into a restaurant until I had my name trademarked. We fought tooth and nail. I hired attorneys. There aren't a lot of restaurants with truly trademarked names. But I own Latin Burger and Taco. It will always be mine. That's very important to me."
Heins said he and his team are up for the challenge. "I'm not a chef. I'm not even sure if I'm a glorified cook. But I know what I like and I know what tastes good to me. I like to work in the kitchen. Making burgers is my sanctuary. We have something here. We have determination to make it work. And we have a great burger."