When the economy tanked in late 2008, Cuban-born Michell Sanchez ended up like many others -- down on his luck. After his business buying and selling gold crumbled, he went from a life of luxury and globetrotting to nothing.
"I lost everything: my car, my condo," recalls Sanchez, who looks a little like a Latin Guy Fieri. "I moved into an efficiency apartment next door to my mom. It was a perfect storm. I knew I had to do something, but the last thing I wanted to do was cook. It was embarrassing. I didn't want to go from making a lot of money to flipping tacos."
Then he met his future wife, Bella, a Mexican beauty enthralled by the spices and cuisine of her homeland. Inspired by both Bella and his mother, Teresa, who had worked as a bakery manager at Miami's fabled Versailles Cuban Restaurant, Sanchez began sketching out a plan for a food truck.
In 2010, the trio bought a used truck from Orlando and rolled out Latin House Grill alongside just a handful of mobile kitchens. The truck was one of the first to hit the streets of South Florida. It set up shop at the corner of Bird Road and SW 83rd Street, selling burgers and tacos. Bella took orders at the window, while Teresa helped work the flat-top and fryer. Even his 84-year-old grandmother got involved, sitting outside the truck to pose as a hungry patron.
They made $27 on their first day of business.