Food & Drink

No mystery: Food truck Ms. Cheezious so popular, owners open brick-and-mortar shop

A Ms. Cheezious employee holds two grilled cheese sandwiches at the new bricks and mortar, which opened in early February.
A Ms. Cheezious employee holds two grilled cheese sandwiches at the new bricks and mortar, which opened in early February. South Florida News Service

Emily Herman, a private-school teacher in North Miami, remembers standing in line for a half-hour to order from Ms. Cheezious, a local food truck that serves grilled cheese sandwiches.

Her signature pick: a short rib grilled cheese with pickled onions and arugula on sourdough bread.

“It’s my favorite food truck,” said Herman, 39. “They have interesting combinations.”

After five years of turning on an engine and serving sandwiches to customers from their blue mobile food truck, Christian Dickens and husband and wife, Brian and Fatima Mullins, founders and developers of Ms. Cheezious, in early February opened the truck’s first brick-and-mortar shop, at 7418 Biscayne Blvd. in Northeast Miami’s MiMo District.

“I can sit at a table, and there’s no crazy long lines,” Herman said.

Ms. Cheezious trucks still travel around Miami and stop to serve food in spots around Kendall, Miami Beach, Hollywood, Wynwood and others.

Its fans can track the truck’s whereabouts using social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which alerts followers on where the food truck will be next.

“People tweet us all the time,” said Fatima Mullins, who manages the social media accounts for Ms. Cheezious. “I try to answer everyone when they send a message, and I think that’s what makes a big difference.”

The food truck first debuted during Art Basel 2010.

In its first year in business, Ms. Cheezious doubled its sales and the owners purchased a second truck. In 2012 and 2013, it won the People’s Choice Award for Best Food Truck at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

“We had the first truck for only a year, but it was just so much that we had to do something else,” Brian Mullins said. “Now I can say we make more here on a weekend day than the trucks do in a week.”

Before opening Ms. Cheezious, Brian Mullins and Dickens ran training teams for Planet Hollywood, an international restaurant corporation.

They have opened and re-vamped restaurants together since 1991, not just in the United States, but also in Hong Kong, Russia, Indonesia, London, Dubai and Mexico.

“Essentially for seven years we lived off a suitcase,” Brian Mullins said. “Both of us had to go and evaluate what was wrong with the business and make recommendations to corporate on how it could be adjusted.”

After seeing food trucks in Las Vegas, they did the math over cocktails and decided to start their own in Miami.

“It was an investment and a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Brian Mullins said.

The new bricks-and-mortar location used to be a small boutique shop.

It took two years to turn it into Ms. Cheezious.

Before opening, the owners had to paint inside and out, buy kitchen appliances and put up the Ms. Cheezious sign – a vibrant blonde pinup girl, full of attitude.

The sketch was painted by Fatima Mullins’ sister, Maria Balseiro, 38.

Her graffiti-style paintings are on the walls of the restaurant, which has a patio lounge in the back where customers may eat.

“She’s very sexy and everyone’s drawn to it,” Fatima Mullins said of the sketch. “My sister created this image that’s become a brand, and people really like interacting with her.”

The total investment of the new permanent location, including purchasing the real estate and renovation, was more than $300,000, Brian Mullins said.

“When we turned on the lights outside for the first time and the sign went up, it was everything and more we thought it would be,” Dickens said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our fans and guests supporting us throughout the years.”

If you go

What: Ms. Cheezious

Where: 7418 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. -- Monday-Sunday

Parking: Free parking lot in the back and street parking available

Contact: 305-989-4019