To celebrate their four-year anniversary, the founders behind New York–based food truck Mexicue are setting up shop at three brick-and-mortar locations across the Big Apple. Like many mobile concepts fighting for a share of foot traffic today, a restaurant was the next logical step, offering an opportunity to expand the menu and kitchen operation.
“To be perfectly honest, the truck business is not expandable,” says David Schillace, cofounder of the Mexican barbecue concept. “There are so many variables, from weather to parking spaces, that it’s hard to build any solid business promise. When you have a set location, it’s a much more reliable way to scale a business.”
Schillace and cofounder Thomas Kelly will open a new unit at 1440 Broadway at 40th Street and a unit just north of Madison Square Park in addition to a Chelsea location already operational. The pair also unveiled a newly built 3,000 square-foot catering facility located in Williamsburg.
“One of the benefits of the truck is that you can test out geographic areas, Schillace says. “So we know we have a strong following in Midtown during lunch—that worked into our real estate decision.”
Starting as a food truck not only gave him and his partner easier means for financing, but also built buzz and a reliable consumer base that’s making growth possible, he adds.
While the real estate decisions were shaped in part by the food truck operation, the interior design of the new restaurants will not be, Schillace says. Instead, the brick-and-mortar units will be simpler and less flashy. The kitchen and menu, however, will be more complex, he says.
“When we first started with the trunk, we had three tacos and three sliders,” Schillace says. “As the brand developed and we developed, we learned from our customers, we learned more about who we are as a company and who we are—the menu has taken shape through that process.”
Mexicue’s menu has evolved to include a broader selection of Mexican barbecue sandwiches, burritos, grilled soft tacos, salads, homemade sides, cocktails, and dessert options. The brand’s new breakfast menu offers breakfast burritos, tacos, bowls, sandwiches, and nachos. One of the dishes Schillace says he is most excited about is a kale and blackened Brussels sprouts salad with pepitas, corn salsa, Cotija, and chili citrus vinaigrette.
“We’re doing a massive amount of food now, especially since our catering operation has taken off tremendously,” he says. “It’s certainly a more complicated operation now.”
The New York brick-and-mortar expansion is just the beginning for Mexicue, Schillace says. Backed by an investor pool that includes the former owner of Ruby Tuesday, Schillace and his partner hope to take their Mexican barbecue concept to other cities along the East Coast.
By Tamara Omazic