FORT MYERS, Fla. (WIVB) – A lot of people have either relocated from Western New York to Florida, or have a relative or friend who has. There’s one couple living in the southwestern part of the Sunshine State and making sure those people can still get a taste of their hometown.
Their names are Mike and Mechelle Griffin. They operate a food truck called “Nickel City Red Hots”. You can’t miss the big “716” on it.
“By putting the ‘716’ on the truck,” explained Mechelle, “anybody from Buffalo, it catches their eye and they’re like, ‘Wow, you’re from Buffalo?'”
So how is it that there’s a food truck making its way around Lee County, Fla. serving up Buffalo treats like beef on weck, Sahlen’s hot dogs, Pizza Logs, and Loganberry? This story is rooted in the Blizzard of ’77. After that infamous storm, Mike’s family had enough of the snow and traded it for the Florida sunshine.
“When we moved here, there was no such thing as chicken wings and Buffalo food,” he says.
So, the Griffins started making their own at home. About three years ago, they started the food truck. Their menu almost reads like that of a corner bar in Buffalo’s First Ward.
“We have a hookup with someone to get Weber’s mustard,” Mechelle explained. They have to make a six-hour round trip to Orlando to pick it up.
“Same thing with Loganberry,” Mike added. “We have some suppliers. But since we’re a food truck, a lot of suppliers don’t want to do shipping with us.”
That creates a lot of work for the Griffins. When they set the truck up, Mike is at the window. Mechelle is in back cooking. Mike says she gets all the credit.
“That was his deal,” she explained. “He wanted the truck. I said, ‘I’m not doing the window.'”
“She’s kind of shy,” Mike added.
But that’s what makes them a great team, a winning team for Florida-based Western New Yorkers feeling a little homesick.
“A lot of them are shocked,” Mike said. “A lot of them say, ‘I haven’t had a beef on weck for years, or the Pizza Logs.’ They’re really shocked at our food. We’re starting to get a lot of followers and they’re enjoying our food.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.