On November 4th, 2010 CheeseMe Mobile debuted in the parking lot behind Gigi’s. I missed them on that night but the next morning for lunch I was first in line to try their food. Andrew Kaplan who was running the truck and former GM at Prime 112 created a menu that showcased some really comfort food grilled cheese goodies. I instantly fell in love with the Short Rib grilled which is still to this day one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.
At some point during the tail end of the summer something seemed to change on the CheeseMe Mobile truck. The focus didn’t seem to be there anymore and the rise of Ms. Cheezious as the preeminent Grilled Cheese truck seemed to take a toll on CheeseMe.
Late October brought about the news that owner Andrew Kaplan was taking the spot as GM at the new Phillipe Chow restaurant (click for New Times story) on the beach. It was at this time I heard one person mention to me that Andrew had offered them the opportunity to be the manager of CheeseMe Mobile. When I asked Andrew about CheeseMe’s future he said nothing was changing but it turns out that wasn’t the case.
November saw the disappearance of Kaplan’s version of CheeseMe Mobile and in early December came the announcement that Latin Burger & Taco’s Jim Heins had taken over the brand.
To read the full New Times “Latin Burger Burger acquires CheeseMe” story click here.
The story clearly states that the brand was purchased from Andrew Kaplan and his group of partners. When I posted a pic of the new Latin Burger infused CheeseMe Mobile truck a gentleman by the name of Ken Lyon left a comment on the Miami Food Trucks Facebook Page on December 9th asking if he should speak to Latin Burger or Andrew Kaplan to “settle up”.
Just a couple of weeks later I heard rumblings from some of the food truck folk that the “rightful owner” of CheeseMe Mobile had shown up to BTTR (the weekly Tuesday Food Truck Round Up at Johnson & Wales) and confronted Jim Heins about ownership of CheeseMe Mobile. Both sides claiming they had exclusive rights to it.
It seemed a big food truck legal battle royale was on its way when all of a sudden the CheeseMe Mobile Facebook which had been dormant since November came alive with this comment:
and the following day New Times posted the story “CheeseMe is Gone…For Now” (click here to read).
Since the New Times article was heavy on the Latin Burger/Andrew Kaplan comments I asked Felix Bendersky (who was named by the partners as the new operator) for his side of the story to hopefully clear up things even more and here is his response in its entirety below:
“It is pretty simple really. CheeseMe was started by Andrew who was the operating owner and my 2 partners who purchased the truck, financed the whole project and used their staff to create the logos, ect. Things were going fine until 1 day Andrew resigned to pursue other ventures. There is nothing wrong with that but by the time we got the truck back in our possession it was in pretty bad shape. At that time I was called in to take over the business. As we were planning a new revamp strategy, we wake up 1 morning to find that New Times had published an article that Latin Burger had acquired CheeseMe and right away There seemed to be another CheeseMe truck on the road.As you can tell we were shocked. Once Andrew resigned he gave up all his rights to the business. Til this day we don’t know the extent of the deal he made but we were never notified nor did he own any part of Cheeseme anymore to make a deal. We hold no hard feelings towards Jim or Latin Burger. They are hard workers who saw an open window and climbed in. Either way Jim is a man of his word and took CheeseMe off of the Latin Burger’s site and promised to Remove All CheeseMe logos off the Latin Burger Truck. We wish them all the best. I’m just excited to kickoff 2012 with a fresh start. With that mess behind us CheeseMe are concentrating on making our loyal fan base very happy. We are holding a contest for some new sandwich recipes chosen by our fans. If it makes the menu we will be naming our new Sandwich after them. Thanks again Burger Beast and look forward to working with you.”
Hopefully I shed some light on what I saw and heard as a spectator on the sidelines. At times it felt as if there was a Food Truck Reality Show Soap Opera going on.
CheeseMe Mobile will be back on the road very soon. I’m hoping it’s back to its old delicious glory but just less expensive. Check out their Facebook page for more info.