NQC: Not Quite Cuban
7 months ago Nicholas Rodriguez 0
Mylo Gonzalez is the proprietor of NQC Craft Beer and Grub in Miami Lakes. It’s the first gourmet drive thru in the United States. “I’ve done some very good research for an establishment like this,” Gonzalez said. “I ended up converting a Farm Store, which is very typical here in Florida, into a drive thru gourmet restaurant.”
Gonzalez is a second generation cook and his mother is a retired chef. He didn’t have any professional teaching of that matter. His mother was the one to teach him how to cook. “I figured that was the best option, for schooling” Gonzalez said.
He would have hands on experience and would get slapped for doing things wrong, in a motherly way, of course.
He always wanted to be a cook. Unfortunately, due to the kind of industry that it is, his mother tried to steer him away from cooking. Regardless, he ended up being a cook and opened his first restaurant in 2006.
He went to school in Orlando, attending Full Sail University, a recording arts school. He became a recording engineer and producer, graduating in the year 2000. He went to work for Universal Records Latin. He worked with several artists, including, Enrique Iglesias, Juanes, Paulina Rubio, just to name a few.
He opened his own restaurant in 2006. To date, he’s built restaurants based on passion, good food, good service, good ideas and concepts.
With the belief in God, it has worked for them well, which has led them to open NQC, which stands for No Quiero Cocinar. It also stands for Not Quite Cuban. They have different trademarks for their brand, but No Quiero Cocinar fits it, because some people don’t want to cook. “We’re here to cook for them,” Gonzalez said. “So subliminally, what I’m telling them, is if you don’t want to cook, you can stop by here.”
NQC has always been a family business. Starting in 2006, their first concept was that his mother kickstarted the kitchen grills, he would handle the front of the house and his mother would handle the back of the house.
During the recession of 2009, unfortunately, they tried to expand at the wrong time, and he ended up going under in a prior establishment they had built out. So he came back to their restaurant and told his mother that they were unfortunately going to have to lay off a couple people, primarily the kitchen, which was the biggest part of their salaries. His mother, however, told him not to worry about it and that she’ll train him how to cook and do things right.
From that point on, he took over the kitchen, he started creating new dishes, with influenced Spanish cuisine, with his mom being from southern Spain.
His wife, who was his customer, actually became a front of the house manager, while he worked the kitchen, with his mother pulling away. It was then he and his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time.
Since then, he hasn’t had any other business that’s not family orientated, as he doesn’t believe in partners. “I believe the only partner for a job is the one closest to you,” Gonzalez said.
It’s a 100% family business. Every person they’ve employed has become part of their family and they’ve had employees that have worked with them for 10-12 years and every time they try a new project, they’re involved and want to be involved. It’s something cool that they know they’re going to do with due diligence and try to do the concept that’s going to bring some sort of culture. The main theme of the restaurant business is that you have to create good food, you have to innovate, you need to have good service, but primarily, you have to create culture if you want people to get involved, otherwise, it’s just a food establishment. “It defeats the purpose of what cooking means, to me at least,” Gonzalez said.
With prior concepts, NQC focuses on fusion when it comes to what food they make in their drive thru restaurant.
In their first restaurant, for example, it was 90% geared toward Spanish cuisine with a 10% influence on Caribbean. “In this concept, there’s no boundaries,” Gonzalez said. “I do Thai food here, I do Cuban food, I do Chinese, Argentinian, Venezuelan, it’s just an exciting project.”
NQC for Gonzalez has been a dream for him. “I love to cook, I love to cook anything honestly,” Gonzalez said. It’s given him an opportunity of thinking outside of his comfort zone, trying foods of all different cultures.
Living here in Miami, there are several different nationalities and traditions and whatnot.
The cool thing about NQC is that he can play with all of those different nationalities and backgrounds. He always give them a little twist, just so that he can keep it fun. It’s based on world food and cuisine. The same goes for their beer that they offer in their growlers.
NQC is also the only growler food station in the United States, their beers are worldwide, they try to keep their representation of their local breweries down here in South Florida, like Wynwood, Veza Sur, as well as South Beach. They do world beers.
Another reason why it’s known as Not Quite Cuban is is that his father was Cuban and his mother was Spaniard. You would imagine he would do Cuban food, which he does, but at times, it’s not quite Cuban, which is why it’s called Not Quite Cuban.
People assume that, because of his background, that he’s going to do a Cuban restaurant, because he has items in his menu that are cuban related, but as he states, “It’s a box of different cultures, so it’s not quite cuban.”
The business is going great, they are fortunate to have a good, solid footprint in the community, where they kicked off the project.
Their patrons know and respect the jobs that they do. “We try do our best to make it as close to perfect as possible because there’s no such thing as doing something perfect.”
Their business is growing and prospering. They have a strong belief in God and knowing that he’s willing to help them every step of the way. “Business is very good, thank God,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez bought the place from an old Farm Store, back in December 2016, as is, as a retail, drive-thru shop. They permitted for change of views from a retail Farm Store, to a drive-thru restaurant. A lot of things have taken place since this process, such as three-strap hood, new cooler and new refrigeration.
In March 2017, they 100% converted into a drive-thru restaurant. In September 2017, the week after Hurricane Irma passed, NQC went live with their app. Their app is NQC Grub.
That was the final step of the project. Since they do everything to order and not a restaurant that does food by the pound or anything like that, they do gourmet food to order. The app is extremely important, so when you order on NQC grub, it generates a pick-up time. From that pick up time, you’re going to pass by the window, extend your arm and take off with your food, especially prepared to you, the way you like it and the temperature how you like it.
They went live with it September of 2017, which boosted the concept and started solidifying what it is, a drive-thru gourmet restaurant, which is app-based.
“Everyday, you get specials of dishes that I’ve created, aside form the 42 items on our menu,” Gonzalez said. You’ll see beer specials, what they have on tap, when they’ll have events and get points for every dollar you spend. “It’s a very cool app, it’s ergonomic and it’s easy to handle and easy to order,” Gonzalez said. “You could pretty much modify anything that you want to your liking and we will make it just like that.”