A conversation with Anthony Hashem of The Happy Grilled Cheese

You previously looked at opening a location in Riverside, what made you decide on the location downtown?

Shortly after the Riverside location fell through, I was heading to Hemming Park to check on the food truck and there was a miraculous open parking meter on Hogan Street steps way from Hemming. As I got out of the car I noticed the old Folk Food location had recently closed and was available. I called the property manager from the information on the window and within minutes we were shaking hands on the deal. It happened by accident but it was a no-brainer! We are excited to serve the downtown lunch crowd and be a part of the Urban Core’s continued growth and development.

Downtown has traditionally struggled to attract a strong dinner crowd. Stalwarts such as Zodiac Grille, Super Food and Brew, Burrito Gallery, Candy Apple Cafe, Indochine, Fionn MacCools and Spliffs Gastropub are set to welcome newcomers Kazu Sushi Burrito, Belweather and Cowford Chophouse this year. With a critical mass of restaurants offering regular evening hours starting to form, how are you looking to attract the dinner crowd?

Our block of downtown is very sleepy in the evenings, so we won’t open with dinner hours. We will focus on dinner shifts with the food truck around town. We look forward to opening on event nights like Art Walk and One Spark, and hope to add dinner hours if and when downtown becomes more residential with a captive night time audience.

Image Credit: The Happy Grilled Cheese

Tell us about the menu.

The menu will be very similar to the food truck, featuring our signature cheesy melts, soups, salads, homemade chips, weekly specials, sides, and desserts.

Why did you start The Happy Grilled Cheese?

I started The Happy Grilled Cheese when I saw the opportunity to leave the corporate world as food truck laws shifted in Duval County. My father’s side of the family is from Austin, Texas, so I grew up eating at food trucks and knowing their potential as a business plan. I had a few concepts written and ready to go. I picked The Happy Grilled Cheese first, as it has universal appeal. Everyone loves ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

Image Credit: The Happy Grilled Cheese

What have you learned from operating one of the most popular food trucks in town that you are applying into the new space?

Keep it simple! Focus on what the customer wants and keep it at a price point that keeps people coming back for more!

Image Credit: The Happy Grilled Cheese

Anything you want to add?

We look forward to Jacksonville’s continued support of our brand and Jacksonville food trucks and can’t wait to grow with the downtown community!

Cover Illustration by Jim Ward, https://www.behance.net/averagejim