“It feels surreal. That would be the best way I can describe it,” Luis Guerrero, the owner and creator of Great Plates, said when asked about his upcoming one-year anniversary.
Just short of a year ago Guerrero launched his small business selling Miami-style cuisine in Tallahassee. Not long after, Guerrero went from selling food from out of his home to opening his very first storefront on Jackson Bluff Road.
Cooking was never a career Guerrero wanted or intended on pursuing. He says this was a hobby of his that flourished into a business that he is building from the ground up.
Guerrero originally set out to start his business on the West Coast, but that did not come together as he hoped.
“It was my plan, it wasn’t God’s plan,” Guerrero said.
It wasn’t until his run-in with the law and serving time in prison that he decided to pursue the restaurant industry seriously.
After his incarceration Guerrero knew that it was time to take Great Plates seriously and start his business in Tallahassee.
He utilized social media as his primary form of advertisement, posting photos to his company’s Instagram page of his tempting dishes. From that Great Plates grew a large local fan base and left the people wanting more.
“I never thought I’d make it to this point,” Guerrero said. In just a short time Great Plates has been serving quality and innovative dishes and has since hit over 14,000 followers combined across all social media platforms.
Like many, Guerrero and his crew have faced challenges and hardships.
Guerrero said one of the biggest challenges the restaurant faced in the beginning was customer wait time and service.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, nor did anyone working for me know. I’m learning as I went. We started off with a countertop $20 Waymart fryers and little equipment. Therefore the timing that it would take us to make two orders it would take another restaurant to make 10.” He said.
Although the wait may have been extensive, it didn’t stop the revolving door of customers from coming in.
“You can’t get anything like this that tastes like back home. I’m from Miami, so this gives me a little piece of home away from home,” Dalvin Roberts said.
Restaurant manager Dorien Waiters says the biggest challenge was finding the right staff to create their Great Plates family.
“Selecting our Great Plates family, getting our cooks, cashiers, and servers, finding each person and becoming the family that we are now.”
College student JacQuita Hester says Great Plates is one of her favorite spots to dine.
“Those days when I’m in the mood for like some real Florida comfort and classic food, I know this is the place I can count on. Everything is great, hence the name.”
Guerrero says he knows Great Plates is here to stay.
“Great Plates is a hype but it’s a hype that will never die because I continue to innovate. The menu will never stay the same, even a year from now,” he said. “I always ask my customers what they would like to see or utilize the same ingredient various ways.
“Approaching one year is approaching ground level. I started 6 feet under in hell, stress, trouble and hardship. I’m trying to move forward like a typical started would,” Guerrero added.
Rebranding is set to take the restaurant to new heights. Great Plates is open from 3-10 p.m. every day of the week except Wednesdays, when it is open from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.