Brian Mullins, Fatima Mullins and M. Christian Dickens
Owners & Founders of Ms. Cheezious Restaurant & Food Trucks
Shot At: Ms. Cheezious brick and mortar location in the MiMo District during their second day in business on February 2, 2015 – 7418 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138
Photography by: Dro Photography
Ms. Cheezious is definitely hands down our favorite food truck in Miami and last month they celebrated the launch of their brick and mortar location in the MiMo district. They’ve won countless awards and recognitions. They’ve received national press many times over with Food Network appearances and mentions and a few national show appearances. And after you meet the three personalities behind the Ms. Cheezious brand name, you can’t help but fall for their great personalities and how well they click with each other. They’re all smiles and positivity while simply having a great time in doing something they love doing; making grilled cheeses for YOU. The picture above kind of says it all, but read below as they give us a brief but informative take on their successful start-up and an interesting story of where they got the wood that’s used inside of their store’s decor.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]1[/dropcap]First of all, just tell me about the journey to get the Ms. Cheezious brand to where its at today?
Brian: It’s been a long journey. It started in a pool in Las Vegas as a crazy idea. Came back to Miami, we gave it a shot and it took a while to get it together, but…
Christian: Art Basel 2010. Before we opened the window, there was a 45-minute wait and from there on out, it was like lightning in a bottle. We knew we had something unique.
Brian: So with two trucks running around Miami for the last four years, the people wanted to get Ms. Cheezious without having to chase. So we did the brick and mortar and now we’re open. We have a base for our trucks and a place where people can hang out seven days a week.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]2[/dropcap]What would you say separates you guys not only from the grilled cheese competition but just in general, as a local restaurant?
Brian: I think that we all just care about having a great place to eat, giving good food and service.
Fatima: And really, the years that both Brian and Christian worked in restaurants is something. I mean a lot of people open trucks because it looks cool, but they’ve never worked in a restaurant or they don’t know how to manage the labor or the food or anything. So their experience I think.
Christian: Fatima’s social media has put us completely on the map. I mean through social media we have constant interaction with the fans of Ms. Cheezious and it’s absolutely amazing! And I think between me and Brian, we probably opened close to 80 restaurants around the world. So there hasn’t been a scenario that we run into that we haven’t seen before. I think it’s – when it’s your own, then you take extra pride in making everything right and really doing the best that you can do. I think the restaurant has got touches of everything,
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]3[/dropcap]Like the wood inside the restaurant, something about it makes you feel at home…
Christian: This is actually old barn wood. We were in Texas and a friend of ours had this ranch and one day, Fatima asked if they had an old barn. We started driving and we found this 100-year old barn back in the woods. And one thing lead to another and we knocked it down, the cowboys there took the building down, took the tin off the roofs, we put it in a U-Haul and away we went to bring it down to Miami. We got here in two days. This is an actual picture we took in front of the barn before we took it down. *showed us the photo below*
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]4[/dropcap]What are your individual roles with the company?
Fatima: I handle mainly like social media, but obviously if I need to get in the kitchen I do. But I really am all over the place. Otherwise, I handle the PR and social media aspect for the trucks.
Brian: I generally do operational stuff, and cooking, but mostly anything operational.
Fatima: He also put up the wood you mentioned.
Christian: And I do all the corporate side stuff and occasionally I drive a U-Haul carrying wood. *Laughs*
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]5[/dropcap]How are you guys liking the MiMo neighborhood?
Fatima: Well for me, I know Wynwood’s popular but I love this area because people live here. Like there’s families and a neighborhood and I believe that to start a business, you should do it in a place where people are a lot of people already established.
Brian: This neighborhood is making such a rebound. And because its a historic district, there’s a height restriction on this whole end of the boulevard. There’s neighborhoods on the east and west sides and nobody can tear it all down and make giant buildings like they’re doing all over Miami. So it’s gonna stay. Obviously, it’s busy out front, but the neighborhood itself is not going to get overbuilt and that’s pretty cool. It is what it is.
Fatima: And I have to add, when we were looking at places, when I walked in, this was like a clothing store with like flower wallpaper on top. But when I opened the door and I saw the tree back here in the patio area, I was like “we have to have this!” There are not a lot of places where you can have this garden area. I mean I just fell in love with it.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]6[/dropcap]And where did the inspiration behind the logo and the branding come from…?
Brian: [Fatima’s] sister Maria (who goes by the name “Delvs”) designed the logo. She’s a graffiti artist and she came and did that.
Fatima: Actually Maria was living up in California when we came up with this whole idea. And I’m not gonna lie – we did it all pretty fast. We said it took a while, but when we thought about the idea in Vegas it was September and the truck was open in December. But when you have experience like they do doing openings, it became possible. But I called Maria one night like “I need you to draw…” and from their it took a lot of drinks to come up with a name.
Christian: It took a lot of go-go juice!
Fatima: When you we looked forward for ideas like branding or whatever, I needed to make a name that didn’t already exist. People make names and there’s like 100 in every city and state. So this name didn’t exist. We’re all a little mischievous so it came down to Ms. Cheezious. But I called Maria and we wanted her to do a pinup for us. And she sent us a sketch.
Brian: She sent us 5 drawings overnight actually and 4 ended up as designs on the truck.
Christian: It was all freehand, and that’s pretty amazing!
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]7[/dropcap]And how was the original menu conceived?
Brian: For the original menu, we had a party at our house and I just made grilled cheeses after grilled cheese and had our friends there just eat and eat. We narrowed it down to six originals to what we thought everybody’s favorites were. And we had surprises between what we thought it was gonna be a hit and bounced it off our close friends. There was never a complaint about coming to our house and coming to eat because they would eat well. So they were excited to come over. That’s how we started it, but now, whenever we’re hanging out and someone’s got a random idea about a sandwich, we make a note and the next day we check it out see if it works.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]8[/dropcap]So my last question, what are each of your favorite places in Miami that has kind of a meaning for you?
Christian: Well this one is easy for me. I’ve got a fond memory. Several years ago, I invited my family when we had our first food truck. When the trucks were so successful, I brought everyone down and we stayed at The Biltmore in Coral Gables. And it was an amazing moment for me to share to have my family being here with me and enjoying the success that we had with Ms. Cheezious. So I would say because of that moment, The Biltmore is and was pretty special. Plus…the pool, the cabana and a nice terrycloth robe!
Brian: For me, I’ve always loved Crandon Park and Key Biscayne in the middle of the day when nobody else is around just to go and sit someplace quiet. You can watch the city, enjoy the skyline and it’s just — it’s just peaceful. You’re always busy working and running around and doing things around the city, so it’s nice to go to the key and just sit quietly and look back at it. And it’s just calm and pretty. It’s a peaceful moment.
Fatima: My fondest memory is from my childhood. My dad had a Dodge Dart, and he would drive us around while he was smoking a pipe back then. He would have us four kids in the back and the window almost all up with this Trinidad and Tobago radio on AM and driving to Versailles every day. But he was driving like 20 miles per hour so you were dying. But it’s like one of my funniest and fondest memories – I always think about going to 8th street to Versailles to drink coffee with my dad and mom.
Brian: That’s Miami. Doesn’t get much more Miami than that! The Biltmore, Crandon Park and Versailles.
You can check out Ms. Cheezious everyday at their new permanent brick and mortar location at 7418 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138. For more info, go to mscheezious.com.
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