WATER VALLEY – Opening a new business has been a rare occurrence during the last few months with the economic downturn triggered by a global pandemic, but David Gonzales and Amanda Byrum have defied the odds after launching Wiggly’s in April. During the last three months they have methodically built a solid customer base at their food truck parked at the intersection of Dupuy and Main streets serving delicious tacos, quesadillas, nachos and burritos.
Next week the couple will take another step as they start serving customers at their new location in The Hendricks Building, directly across Dupuy from their current location. Gonzales is excited to offer a full range of menu items that have become local favorites, but were limited daily due to space constraints in the food truck.
“I can’t have too much on the menu, you can only have so much when you are a two-man team,” Gonzales explained about the food truck. “Now I have the formula down and I have a couple of good people who want to work with us,” he continued about beefing up the staff as they move inside The Hendricks Building. Gonzales also explained that the last three months have been valuable as they forged strong relationships with customers. They quickly learned the fast-paced lunch business as they fine-tuned the process to ensure the ticket wait-time would accommodate half-hour lunch breaks for customers.
Wiggly’s will open Monday in The Hendricks Building Monday and serve customers on weekdays starting at 11 a.m. with later hours in the evening. Gonzales is installing an on-line ordering system that will accommodate faster to-go orders, especially with the uncertainty in the coming months with COVID-19. He also noted that the tables are spaced out inside the restaurant to ensure social distancing is maintained for dine-in customers.
Rich Background Drives Menu
Wiggly’s new menu will include all of the favorites he has offered during the last three months – the California Burrito with chicken, shrimp or steak along with the pork version, the Wiggly Burrito. Other crowd pleasers include his nachos, quesadillas and tacos including the coveted catfish taco featuring Mississippi catfish.
“Everything that you have tasted so far will now be on the full menu,” Gonzales added.
Gonzales’ diverse work history includes commercial flooring and construction in addition to working as a chef and cook in establishments that ranged from upscale restaurants in San Diego to bars and grills. He has also cooked on charter fishing boats, including a 30-day stint last October and his experiences help shape the menu. In fact, one of his favorite dishes is a crunchy pork taco with specially prepared pork cooked in herbs and beer that became famous on a fishing outing.
“I used to cook a lot of pork tacos on the fishing boats and the people loved them,” Gonzales explained. But during this outing, the mayor of Tijuana, Mexico was on the boat and provided specific instructions not to prepare Mexican food during the trip.
“Because the history was the cooks were all white guys who did not know how to cook Mexican food. So one day I decided I was going to do it,” he continued, adding the risk was rewarded.
“He was like, that was the best ever,” Gonzales said about the experience that remains an inspiration.
More to Come
While Gonzeles is pursuing a long-time dream to ultimately build a Wiggly’s franchise of food trucks, he is also a core ingredient to another exciting launch. The Hendricks Building Venue and Steakhouse is also scheduled to open later this summer and Gonzales will be the chef for his long-time friend and business partner, Jordan Bankhead.
Bankhead purchased The Hendricks Building a year ago and the build-out for the new steakhouse and venue space started in January when Gonzales moved from California to Mississippi. The move was a leap of faith for Gonzales and Byrum as he worked out a deal with Bankhead to start on the buildout for the historic, 15,000 square-foot building constructed in 1860.
“A lot has happened during the last six months,” Bankhead said about the ongoing work that included routine construction issues complicated by challenges as COVID-19 swept across the country.
“I always thought something should go in this space and I think David’s concept is perfect,” Bankhead also noted about Wiggly’s occupying the northeast corner of the building. “And it gives us a daily presence,” he added about increased activity in the building as the steakhouse will be open on weekends.
The steakhouse will open in late August.