Food Trucks

Latin House Grill to Open Restaurant: Are Food Trucks Turning to Brick and Mortar?

Is the new food truck trend to turn in the wheels for a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant? We've already seen restaurants such as Sakaya Kitchen, La Camaronera, Red Koi, Sweetness Bake Shop, and Islas Canarias roll out mobile versions of their brick-and-mortar establishments.

We're seeing the same trend -- backward. In December 2011, chef Ze Carlos Jimenez opened the MexZican Gourmet in South Miami, with an expanded menu featuring authentic cuisine from the chef's Mexico City roots. Asked why he opened the restaurant, Jimenez said that while his food truck was successful, the truck itself was restrictive and he wanted to spread his wings.

Now Michell Sanchez, chef/owner of Latin House Grill, the flame-wrapped food truck that serves burgers and sliders and has a large fan base called stalkers, is opening his first restaurant -- also in South Miami.

Latin House Burger & Taco Bar, opening this spring, will feature an expanded menu and a full tequila bar. The restaurant will allow chef Michell to combine his food truck menu with his wife Bella's Mexican cuisine. The restaurant will also have an extended craft beer menu.

When the food truck scene hit Miami, many chef/owners told Short Order similar stories of wanting to open their own restaurant but not having the capital. Truck owners also complained of difficulties obtaining bank loans for restaurant projects. Food trucks seemed like a cheaper alternative to a restaurant for a small-business owner wanting to hone his culinary skills.

Could an economic upturn be the start of chef-driven food trucks making the leap to the restaurant their owners really wanted to start in the first place? Short Order knows of at least one other truck owner seeking to open a restaurant. Only time will tell if more trucks turn in their wheels for walls.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss