On November 9, 2009, Latin Burger and Taco tweeted: "We're here", and rolled onto Miami streets. The food truck scene in Miami was new, and people were intrigued by this pink and black truck that sold burgers designed by Food Network celebrity chef, Ingrid Hoffmann.
Latin Burger's owner Jim Heins always wanted to open a restaurant.
"I spent a lot of time in the Caribbean and there was this burger shack on the beach that I used to go to all the time. I wanted to be the guy in dreadlocks flipping hamburgers on the beach. Ingrid said, 'Let's do it in Miami.' I started a truck not knowing a thing about it."
Heins wasted little time on the project. He ordered a truck sight unseen from FoodCart USA's Tania Ramirez and had it delivered from Los Angeles in the beginning of November 2009.
The Latin Burger logo was designed by a South Beach tattoo artist. Heins explains, "I went to a tattoo shop on Washington Avenue, I don't even remember the name. I had this drawing of what I wanted and in a few minutes the artist drew our logo with the long horns."
The truck was now finished and ready for a test run. Heins chose to do his friends and family
nights at the Community Partnership for the Homeless. For four
days, Latin Burger served food to residents, tweaking the recipes and
menu. Now it was time to look for customers and places to serve.
Since there was no marketing budget, Heins turned to social networking.
He called a friend in New York who was a social media expert and
received a crash course in using Facebook and Twitter over the phone.
Local blogs like Burger Beast also helped.
"Early on, Sef Gonzalez (Burger Beast) started posting our locations on
his site. I think that built traffic for the both of us. The Burger
Beast/Latin Burger connection proved mutually beneficial, and Burger
Beast grew from a small blog to a food truck resource," Heins said.
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Two years later, Latin Burger has 8,724 Facebook fans and 6,920 followers on Twitter. With over 100 trucks in the South Florida market, and more trucks added almost daily, how does Latin Burger survive?
Heins regards his truck as like any business.
"I see it like this. When
the real estate market went bust, the good buildings retained their
value. It's the same with food trucks. The trucks that provide solid
food, backed by a good business model, will continue to thrive.The
people that are looking to make a quick buck learn that this industry
requires long hours and a good team. They're the ones that don't make
it. The key to this business is to work long hours and serve good food.
It's that simple."