Florida Keys Business
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Cornering the market
White Street Station offers gourmet comfort food

Despite the description locals have been using, "That new food truck at Truman and White" has a name.

It's called White Street Station and it's been serving breakfast and lunch from the Chevron parking lot since Feb. 9, when Michael and Melanie Wilson of Michaels Restaurant joined forces with their former general manager Dennis Kelly and started serving "gourmet comfort food" from a gas station parking lot.

Only in Key West, right?

And it's not name recognition, but customer satisfaction that most concerns the owners, and so far it's been a satisfied -- and returning -- bunch who are working their way through the menu at White Street Station.

"Mel and I had always wanted to do a food truck," Wilson said. "It's become this enormous trend, and we saw this opportunity at Truman and White where Pirate Seafood used to be, so we partnered with Dennis and created a fun, unique menu. I call it gourmet comfort food, or curbside gourmet."

But, Wilson emphasized, gourmet doesn't mean expensive. And, fried chicken is no longer the only game in town.

"Pretty much everything is under $10," Wilson said. "It's nothing like the menu at Michaels Restaurant. We've had Michaels for 17 years, and with White Street Station, we wanted to show people the other side of what we do."

That "other side" is already proving extremely popular.

"We already have regulars," Wilson said. "It's been a lot of fun, and it's a great location right at the entrance to Old Town."

The menu features familiar items but with a twist.

The Station Burger is an 8-ounce mix of ground brisket and short rib meat topped with caramelized onion, bacon relish -- and served on a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches for $9.95.

The Rotisserie Reuben is made with rotisserie chicken, caramelized bok choy and Napa cabbage on marble rye. and the mac and cheese is served, well, on a sandwich.

That's right, the Grilled Mac is a Texas toast grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with creamy macaroni and cheese and braised short rib meat for $8.75.

The daily specials change daily, as do the homemade soups, which recently have included spicy shrimp bisque and white bean and chicken chili.

"We're really having a good time with this," he said. "It's nice and laid back, and super casual. My dad actually grows all the hot peppers we use. He dries them out in Chicago and then ships them to me when they're ready. He's been doing that for years."

White Street Station accepts cash and credit cards, and will start offering delivery service next week, Wilson said.

And although their business license prohibits them from offering chairs for diners, the station features a series of ironing boards that act as lunchtime leaning posts.

The conversational buzz around town has already picked up on things like mac and cheese sandwiches, burgers on grilled cheese and a pork belly baguette -- all for less than $10.

"That new food truck at Truman and White" may not be its name, but it's certainly getting noticed.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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