Two Metro Detroit natives are becoming pioneers of an emerging Motor City food industry.
Since July, El Guapo Fresh Mexican Grill co-owners Anthony Curis and Doug Runyon have expanded Detroit’s first legal food truck to four locations and started catering.
“I knew this was a good thing,” Runyon told MLive Detroit from inside the mobile eatery. “With only being open three months, we’re doing things I didn’t think we could do.”
El Guapo – Detroit’s first fully sanctioned downtown food truck – started out at corner of Monroe and Randolph, but recently expanded to Brush and Madison near Ford Field, by Detroit Medical Center off of John R and Eastern Market (every Saturday).
“It kind of seems like the Randolph and Monroe is our home base and now that we’re adding Midtown locations and a stadium district location, it’s been great so far,” Curis said. “It’s just a matter of really running up our customers in those areas and getting people used to knowing that we’re there.”
Curis, a 30-year-old Grosse Pointe Shores native, said he visited Detroit City Hall about 60 times this year, working closely with Kim James, director of the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department, to secure the locations.
El Guapo employs seven people and usually serves about 80 to 115 customers for lunch a day, according to Curis. On Friday, El Guapo served its 10,000th customer.
The Mexican eatery, which can be tracked through social networking such as Twitter and Facebook, offer everything from breakfast burritos and marinated steak tacos to Pink Elephant cupcakes. Items on the menu range from about $2 for tacos to $7 for a breakfast combo that includes any burrito, papas fritas (tater tots) and a beverage.
Runyon, a 36-year-old Waterford native, said the best-sellers are the breakfast burrito (egg, cheese, potatoes and salsa) and the chorizo burrito (spicy pork sausage inside a flour tortilla with seasoned rice, beans, diced tomatoes, queso fresco and salsa).
“I’m very happy we came out and got it,” said Ray Chanvonett, 57, of Monroe, during El Guapo’s fist Saturday at Eastern Market in early October. “It was very good.”
Runyon said the goal of Eastern Market is to make El Guapo a cornerstone of the market for fresh food.
“I think it will create a presence,” he said. “Not only can you come here for your produce, meat, specialty items; it can be a place where you can hangout.
“Most markets across the country are like that.”
El Guapo plans to stay open through the winter, heavily relying on catering and routine customers for business.
“We’re doing a lot of catering events, but we’re also going to start doing call-in orders and we’re running with the possibility of delivery as well,” Curis said. “Call-in orders are starting to be a big thing for us.”