For any person potentially interested in opening a new restaurant or even a food cart, travel can expose you to new types of food service and restaurant possibilities. I have just returned from exhibiting my new book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife, at the Miami Book Fair. While there I took the opportunity to visit and sample three quite different, but adjacent, restaurants less than a block from my hotel. These included a Cuban, Greek and Brazilian restaurant offering quite different meals at different price points.
The Cuban restaurant, Havana, had a fusion of Cuban and Central American foods with the most elaborate dish being Tostones Rellenos Lomo Saltado which was a seasoned cut beef dish served in a fried plantain bowl. Four of these constituted a serving. I followed this up with a flaun with caramel sauce and Cuban Coffee. They had such a variety of interesting dishes that I could have happily eaten there every night. I thought their prices were slanted towards the working man, rather than tourists.
Next up I tried the Greek restaurant next door where they had a case of seafood on ice. I chose a fish and a glass of wine from the island of Santorin (Thera), which has been famous for its wine since the time of Homer. This was excellently made, served and was accompanied with a rice-sized pasta seasoned with artichoke and baked potato wedges. They seek authenticity here and their olive oil was freshly imported from the area of Sparta. There was Greek music in the background and the semi-outdoor setting in a covered alleyway provided an interesting experience. A couple sat beside me that I saw again the next day at the book fair. They also said that they had a very enjoyable experience. The only thing lacking was a taste of ouzo to cap the dining experience. They may serve wine but not distilled spirits. This was my most expensive meal at $75.00, but I do not consider it overpriced.
I am not a fan of all-you-can-eat restaurants, and had some reservations about eating at Steak Brasil next door. One can order individual items, but the all-you-can-eat option is much more attractive. They have a very large salad bar including some typically South American items like some red drop shaped peppers from Peru which were not hot and gave an interesting kick to the salad. After loading up on salad because I had not eaten any in the past few days, I flipped over a card which was a sign to the servers to present the meats that they were offering that day. These were on skewers that had been cooked over charcoal or hardwood. While I was there each table was offered lamb, beef, chicken hearts, garlic seasoned beef and chicken. This meat was cut at the table and you picked off the piece as it was cut with a pair of tongs. Between the meat and the salad, I never made it to the hot bar. I topped it off with a passion fruit moose which was a fitting end to the meal. The price of this meal was based at about $22.00.
An even larger diversity was seen at the Book Fair where a parking lot was converted into a food court for the event. As shown in the video, there were a remarkable variety of offerings, some of which required cooking and others did not. Besides foods derived from Cuba and South America, GuaCa Go, offered a guacamole where the eater topped off the crushed pear with his choice of toppings. This made for a very simple type of food cart that did not require anything to be heated and gave the customer the choice of exactly what he wanted in his guacamole bowl.
I have done something similar with a chopped coleslaw to which might be added some dried fruit, nuts and even canned chicken or turkey along with the typical mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish to make a healthy novel salad that is prepared cold and dressed to the buyer’s liking. This would also work well from a food cart or food truck. A chopped coleslaw is much different from the commercial slaw which is more like a soupy silage than food. This meal in a bowl concept would be an excellent addition to an existing menu, as a separate bar in a restaurant or in a stand-alone food cart. I have a video about this that you can view at: https://youtu.be/w_vPlvn5g0Y.
My advice to a person who is interested in food as a potential business at any scale is to travel, see what is offered in other parts of the country and see what you can borrow, adapt and make your own.
Create Your Own Job Security
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