Back in 2009, SFoodie got pinged by a guy who was teaming up with his girlfriend to wade into the slightly anarchic card-table Mission new-school street-food scene. Their name: Toasty Melts. Their concept: grilled cheese sandwiches, cooked on wimpy portable butane burners, by a couple who'd never cooked professionally (I had to refer to them in the post that followed as "Andy" and "Lisa," since they were afraid of getting busted for not having permits). They invited me to a preview in the Panhandle, where the only other invitee appeared to be Matt Cohen, a full year before the first Off the Grid, when he was doing some consulting for start-up mobile vendors. The sandwiches, made with cottony-soft bread from Sheng Kee (something they asked me not to divulge), were delicious.
Well, well, well: Tomorrow in the Mission, Toasty Melts rolls out a sleekly wrapped food truck, all licensed and permitted and everything, at the Benny Gold store launch at 16th and Valencia streets (the store is at 3169 16th St. at Guerrero). And "Andy" and "Lisa" are going by their real names, Alex Rando and Tiffany Lam, working out of the commissary kitchen at La Victoria. Sunday, day two of Toasty Melts' rise to wheeled status, they'll be at the Whole Enchihuahua SPCA benefit at Dolores Park, followed by regular appearances a couple times a month at Off the Grids (UN Plaza, Upper Haight), with their regular menu, which includes the three-cheese classic, the ABC (apple and Zoe's bacon), and the Godfather (Zoe's prosciutto and basil aioli). Breads are now from Panorama (the Sheng Kee proved too sugary, Rando says, too easy to scorch).
Rando and Lam also applied for half a dozen vending spaces from the Department of Public Works. Rando is revealing only two of the six: Davis and Broadway and Folsom and Main (though Thrillist has hinted at three more locations: Van Ness and Clay, Sansome and California, and First and Howard).
Does Rando expect pushback from nearby businesses? Well, he says, he and Lam were careful to pinpoint places where there aren't a lot of brick-and-mortars, and he says they reached out to restaurants before DPW sent notification letters, just so nobody'd be surprised.
After two years, Rando and Lam are still cautious.
Toasty Melts: Truck debuts Sat., April 29, at 16th and Valencia streets, starting at noon; followed by Sun., May 1, at the Whole Enchihuahua benefit in Dolores Park, 1-4 p.m. Follow future movements on Twitter (@Toastymelts).