Gabriella Pinos/Assistant Entertainment Director
Vegetarians and meat-lovers alike gathered at the grand opening of Beefsteak, a fast-casual dining food truck, at the Biscayne Bay Campus on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., representatives from Panther Dining and Chartwells, FIU’s food vendor, greeted customers and gave out free items with Beefsteak’s branding.
Samantha Powers, an FIU alumni and employee in the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, was excited for Beefsteak to debut on campus.
“I actually first tried Beefsteak in Washington D.C., and I thought it was absolutely incredible, so I’ve been waiting for the food truck here for the past week,” said Powers.
Beefsteak is a fast-casual restaurant chain created by chef José Andrés. While the restaurant is not vegetarian, it places an emphasis on vegetables in every meal.
The food truck is the sixth Beefsteak location in the United States and the first in Miami. Chartwells, owned by Compass Group, chose Beefsteak as a dining option at FIU as part of a partnership between Chartwells and ThinkFoodGroup, the company behind Beefsteak and 26 other restaurants by José Andrés.
“The opportunity came through our partnership with Compass Group,” said Eric Martino, chief operating officer at ThinkFoodGroup. “We are elated to have the opportunity to work with Chartwells to bring Beefsteak to Miami and to FIU students.”
Since Chartwells came to FIU in August 2018, Beefsteak has been one of the restaurants the company has wanted to bring to the University, according to Richard Hurst, system executive chef for Chartwells at FIU.
“Us as a company, we have a lot of partnerships with different national brands and local vendors, and when we gave an extended portfolio that we had, FIU was really interested with Beefsteak, not only because of José Andrés but the concept really came up to [par],” said Hurst.
Prior to the grand opening of the food truck, ThinkFoodGroup provided training to Chartwells employees in their headquarters in Washington D.C. for a week.
“The training consisted of bringing the operators and management team to [Washington] D.C. where our brick and mortar restaurants are. In D.C., they learn all about our story, culture and why we do what we do,” said Martino.
Members of ThinkFoodGroup also traveled to Miami to train with hourly associates and ensure the restaurant operated at the company’s standards. Doing this helped Chartwells staff handle the fast-paced flow of the restaurant, according to Hurst.
“Basically, once you order and get the food, the maximum is a five minute wait from when you order to getting the food, so it’s pretty fast paced, and it’s worthwhile the wait,” said Hurst.
David Strong, director of strategic initiatives at ThinkFoodGroup, is excited about the partnership between Chartwells and ThinkFoodGroup, which he oversees. He is also eager to see FIU students try Beefsteak for the first time.
“I’ve seen vegans openly weep,” said Strong.
Hurst said Beefsteak also brings much-needed variety to the dining options at BBC, which was one of the reasons why it was chosen as the campus to debut the food truck.
“[We chose] BBC because right now it’s where we have the least options, we’re going to open here, we’re going to kind of test drive, plus it’s a little bit less volume here so we can kind of practice and we don’t have to worry that much about overdoing it, and as we get practice and get better as we go, then we’re going to move,” said Hurst.
Traditionally known for its vegetable bowls, Beefsteak also offers salads and “untraditional burgers” that replace meat with a beefsteak tomato or “faux Joe” vegetable protein. The food truck will offer a limited menu of eight or nine items which will vary by season, according to Strong.
“We’re always going to have an ever-rotating selection, and hopefully we’re going to find the favorite of the FIU campus as well,” said Strong.
Strong also said that Beefsteak is “meal-agnostic;” that is, customers can order during lunch or dinner and have a different experience every time. In the future, however, Beefsteak will offer meals later in the day, according to Laura Diaz, intern for the Panther Dining marketing team.
“For now, for the next month, they’ll be doing one meal a day, but the goal after that is to have them move from BBC to MMC and have everybody in FIU able to try it,” said the senior and marketing major.
While the Beefsteak truck debuted at BBC, it will remain as a pop-up restaurant at FIU. Locations and scheduling for the truck will be available on the FIU Foodlife page on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“All the food is going to be very different to what we have on campus, so anytime the food truck is on the campus where the students are, they should definitely come by and try it,” said Diaz.
You can follow @fiu_foodlife on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the Beefsteak truck schedule.
Featured photo by Gabriella Pinos.