A year ago today, popular grilled cheese food truck concept Ms. Cheezious opened the doors on its first brick-and-mortar location. The restaurant was an instant hit impressing both locals and out-of-towners alike. With such a successful year under their belt partner Brian Mullins sat down with Eater Miami to divulge on what's next for the concept.
Overall, how was the first year at Ms. Cheezious, the permanent location?
The first year was great. I mean, I really am happy that we were well-received. I'll have to admit there's a lot of stuff on social media and we push hard to get a lot of stuff out. I think that we ended up with a great staff that has ... We haven't had a lot of turnover. A lot of them didn't really have a ton of experience, but they really picked up what we do, they like being part of the team, they like working here.
As we wrap up the first year, I feel like we got a lot done because when I look back to when we opened, myself and Ryan, one of our managers, we were the only two who knew how to do everything and we were exhausted and we had to go to South Beach Wine and Food Festival the first week, I'm like we were dying. This year, we have a bunch of events for South Beach again, but in my mind, as terrified as I am about all that work again, like, "Oh, I don't have to worry because the restaurant can run without me this year. They know what they're doing." It's definitely nice that we've come that far that I don't have to stress over the restaurant being able to function without me.
That leads me into my next question which is what has been your biggest challenges so far? You’ve touched on one of them. Can you think of any other?
This year, we're going to have that learning curve just about things like the weather. The backyard is everybody's favorite thing when they come here. This year, we know with the weather and the rain, it was tough because people get it in their heads like, "Oh, it's raining today. We can't go there." I'm like, "We have fifty other seats. You can sit inside to stay dry." But they have it in their head is that, so just making sure that we're harnessing the social media and trying to drive traffic in those off hours, and just getting a feel for the neighborhood and the whole parking. There's just been little stuff that we tweaked. Nothing that's been monumental. Once the staff is trained, everything has been good. I haven't really stressed about anything monumental thus far.
You guys have gotten a lot of recognition and awards and all that fun stuff. What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been in the past year?
I'm super proud that we've done the job that we do. I'm proud of our staff. Our staff is really the key to it. Like Yelp, I don't want anyone with a phone and can write something crazy, and then we'd look and we have two hundred fifty-six reviews that's four and a half stars and generally all positive stuff, and I'm like, for being open for eleven months, people don't even have that. Like, how the people like it enough that they take the time to actually write something. For me, the whole year is one big thing. I'm just proud that people like what we do.
How has it been different running the brick and mortar version of Ms. Cheezious versus food trucks that you guys run and operate?
We opened the brick and mortar but we really turned it into our central operation. At times, it seems almost harder now to run the trucks. Because we're using our kitchen as a commissary, it's just as busy as they've ever been. With these restaurant, you know the kitchen and you walk in. It's like, for this sized restaurant, this is all perfect, but when you have two other restaurants that are pulling out of the driveway that you have to cook for, sometimes it just becomes a little overwhelming because there's like the walk-in on Friday, it'll be, you know, we put everything we could possibly fit in there. Then by Sunday night, it looks like we're robbed and we start over.
Again, worst problems I have, it's a little bit of a challenge scheduling the trucks. As busy as the trucks have been, to be able to cook so much in one little kitchen. Restaurant number two, restaurant number three, they won't have their own food trucks necessarily and we'll have some ... It'll be able to be easier to just schedule things and to prep things and stuff like that. With the trucks here, if it was just the restaurant, it would be a piece of cake, but we have the trucks to deal with as well, so it does present a little bit of a challenge sometimes.
You mentioned restaurant number two and three. What's in store for the next year and Ms. Cheezious?
There's something cooking right now that could happen pretty quick. I'd say within the next thirty days I'll be able to tell you. If all goes as planned, in thirty days, I'll be able to tell you when and where. In thirty days, I'll know if it's happening and it will be opened quick.
So it'll be open in thirty days. Like a surprise new restaurant?
Kind of. I don't know want to jinx it, but it's almost like that. That's in the Gables area. Right now we're in talks in Little Havana. Then we're also talking to the people at All Aboard Florida, the new train station they're building.
That one's still a little far off but we've had talks with them and I talked to a bunch of people around town. We'll see how that one progresses because I think that's a great opportunity and a great project. The other ones are simpler. One is almost, it could be ready in no time. The second one's probably in Little Havana is probably the later part of next year or later part of this year. It could be done by the end of the year if they get the site work done. We'll see. We'll just have to come up with amicable agreement, leases and stuff like that. So far so good. I think by the end of the year, I think we could be at three.
And these would all be separate concepts or one would be Ms. Cheezious and ...
It'll all be Ms. Cheezious. No, they'll all be Ms. Cheezious. I think that the way Miami is and you know the traffic is just insane. Even for me if I ... I live in Coral Gables, but unless I had to come here all the time, I might come up in this direction once in a while but when you get home and you're like, the thought of getting back in your car, you're like no. I just think that in the neighborhoods we're looking in, there's enough people to support another Ms. Cheezious without taking away from anything. I think that there's enough markets in Miami that we could find. Just like when I send the trucks somewhere, the truck then finds, and that's helped us scope out neighborhoods and we know where we do good and we know where we don't do good, so we don't need to open a restaurant if the truck can do it.
So does it feel like it's been a year?
It feels like it's been ten. Honestly, it flew by. The first year flew by. Except physically I feel like it's been more than that. In my mind, I feel like I remember things that happened when we opened that day, but sometimes I'm just like I'm so exhausted and I'm like, "What is going on?" Sometimes we'll sit down and we're talking about doing this restaurant, doing that one. Then we're like, "Are we like insane?" Like, "Do we not know when enough is enough?"