GREATER LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- Most of the food trucks in the Greater Lafayette area are not affiliated with a brick and mortar restaurant. News 18 thought viewers would like to know what it's like for owners who operate both a restaurant and truck. Those people have the best of both restaurant worlds if you will.
Mitchell's Mexican Grill is a small restaurant in Delphi that's been open for almost ten years. About five years ago, the owners decided to take on a food truck to expand the restaurant's market.
Cory Dunbar is a fourth-generation restaurant owner in his family. His family's restaurant offered more high-end dishes.
"They did steaks and seafood and more comfort food and had a full-service bar," Dunbar said.
Dunbar's taste buds went beyond the border.
"Mexican food was my favorite," he said. "When I got out of college I didn't have a job yet, so we bought the building and decided we were gonna do Mitchell's."
Dunbar said he'll never regret opening the restaurant, even though he always thought he would work a 9-5 job.
"I always thought I'd be working in some office somewhere," he said.
Samona Lester eats at Mitchell's food truck every week for lunch. She's also described by employees as Mitchell's 'super fan.'
"They do an amazing job and they support this community," said Lester.
"We bought the truck to build our brand. It more evolved into grad parties, birthday parties, weddings receptions, wedding rehearsal dinners, festivals."
Even on the truck, Cory says the family atmosphere is still there. When pointing out who each employee was, he laughed as he explained, "This is my mother and everybody else, well we're family now."
Cory has some advice for his food truck family. He shared some important elements that any food truck owners who are considering opening a brick and mortar should think over.
"The constant overhead of having a brick and mortar store," Dunbar explained. "If you don't own it, you're paying a lease every day. You're probably dedicated to doing more hours or different hours than on the food truck. Staffing; Hire more staff than what you need to go on the food truck for a couple of hours a day."
Though there's a lot to think about, Dunbar said there's a lot of benefits.
"The brick and mortar is nice because we can do it throughout the winter on those really, really bad days. I think if you have a food truck you're just kind of stuck."
However, Dunbar admitted he couldn't have gotten where he is today without it.
"I definitely don't think our location in Delphi and Mitchell's Mex would be where it is without this food truck," he said. "There are people who drive [to Delphi] on the weekend and had our food at a grad party that would've never known about Mitchell's probably."
At the end of the day, customers don't care where they're getting Mitchell's food, as long as they're getting it.
"They're just so good, the queso is just amazing queso," Lester said. "They just have really great food and really great service and they are friendly, they're fast and I like that."
Mitchell's serves in downtown Lafayette every Tuesday for lunch, but the Mexican grill will soon have a permanent presence in Lafayette. Mitchell's is opening up a restaurant on Creasy Lane next year.
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