But in just a few months, patrons were following the truck through traffic, begging for a taste. Sanchez referred to them as "stalkers" and created a special dish to satisfy all their cravings, a sampler platter of the truck's most popular menu items. "It helped us stick out from the crowd, and that was the turning point," said Sanchez. "In just six months, there were 60 food trucks, maybe more. Everywhere we went, we had 80-plus people waiting in line."
In 2012, Sanchez took the next step, selling two food trucks and opening a restaurant with the same name off Sunset Drive in Miami. The menu, an extension of the food truck's favorite items, became an instant hit.
Two months ago, Sanchez opened his second location -- the first of several additional restaurants he plans to open across Florida -- in Pembroke Pines. The location was a nod to his original stalkers, many of whom had come from Broward County for a taste of his Cuban-Mexican fusion.
The new restaurant, nestled into the back corner of a strip-mall at Pines Boulevard and SW 101st Avenue, is easy to spot thanks to a glowing red sign and a wall of windows painted to look like the flames that were once emblazoned on his food trucks. Walk inside and you'll see his signature catch phrase -- "Mad Love" -- spelled out in Edison bulbs, while a few dozen pendant bulbs hang from the ceiling, illuminating the main dining area.
The left wall is dedicated to an intricate, hand-painted mural, its sensual Day of the Dead beauties and whimsical creatures drawing your eye from a dining room that includes simple black banquettes and a dozen or so plain square tables.
Just steps from the main dining room, a spacious L-shaped bar awaits, empty. Maybe it's because of the unfinished cocktail menu (it's still in the works) or the lack of draft beer (taps have yet to be installed). Or maybe no one's sitting there because the restaurant is out of the locally made sangria, the signature drink. There's sometimes no hostess either. It's a seat-yourself type of place.