By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications
Pinky’s Grilled Cheestro is set to open in downtown Garden City this month and owners Jose and Candice Rodriguez couldn’t be more excited to return home.
Both grew up here, and have long made it a goal to return. Most recently, the couple lived in Ashland and based their mobile food truck there.
“It was time. I felt like God was calling us back home,” Candice said.
“To further understand that, to us, Pinky’s is more than just a food truck,” Jose said. “To us, Pinky’s is a ministry. All the people’s lives that she’s been able to touch — and I mean it, she’s Pinky’s — every opportunity that she’s had to speak to somebody or have a casual conversation while their food’s cooking. Pinky’s is like a gateway or a door to creating relationships with the people around you.”
And now, Pinky’s is well on its way to becoming a bricks-and-mortar store in Garden City.
On Tuesday, April 3, the Garden City Commission approved the Rodriguezes’ request to be considered a local business for an itinerant merchant license, allowing them to set up their food truck temporarily on private property downtown while waiting to move into a permanent downtown space.
The decision means Pinky’s will pay $365 per year rather than the more expensive $900 per month charged to non-local itinerant businesses. If Pinky’s hasn’t moved into a permanent location after a year, the business will begin paying the non-local rate.
The Rodriguezes have been working with Finney County Economic Development and George and Debbie Wharton on leasing a building in downtown Garden City. The Whartons have agreed to lease a space for Pinky’s food truck on one of their private lots.
Opening April 16
Starting April 16, Pinky’s food truck will operate at 518 Stevens Avenue, less than half a block north of Pete’s Tires and northwest of the Main and Pine Street intersection.
Generally, the business will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. four to five days per week, weather permitting. Follow their Facebook page, PinkysGC, for updates.
Once Pinky’s building is ready, Candice said their menu will expand to include not only top-notch sandwiches, but also homemade soups, fresh salads, pasta and more.
The Rodriguezes are excited to open downtown.
“It’s like what you think of when you think of Garden City. It’s special to us,” Candice said.
“To us, that’s where you went as a kid. This is where you would come to get your nice shoes and your dress pants,” Jose said with a chuckle.
Candice’s cooking is the creative heart and soul of Pinky’s. While she had no formal training, she loves trying new things and is an avid Food Network viewer. She is very passionate about her food.
“I grew up at both my grandma’s hips, watching them,” Candice said, noting that it was a multi-cultural experience because one grandma was of German/English heritage and the other was Hispanic.
“What I like is watching people eat my food, seeing their reaction to it. It makes me happy to see people happy,” she said. “I think food is a way to make people happy.”
The Rodriguezes have been operating a food truck since 2010 and rebranded it as Pinky’s in April 2015. The couple had talked in the past about opening a restaurant and being business owners so the decision to make Pinky’s a permanent restaurant evolved over time.
Currently, Pinky’s has 36 different sandwiches they can make. They tend to offer four or five options at a time in the food truck and rotate them.
But their mainstay, their top-seller, is the Twisted Cristo — turkey, pepper jack cheese, cream cheese and roasted jalapenos served on French toast and dusted with powdered sugar, with raspberry chipotle dipping sauce on the side.
“We’ll probably do three or four different ones each day, and just rotate them out and see what people like,” Candice said.
Artisan Grilled Cheese
People often ask what type of food Pinky’s makes. Jose said the best way to describe it is artisan grilled cheese or bistro-style sandwiches, which is where the name, ‘Pinky’s Grilled Cheestro’ comes from.
But for the Rodriguezes, Pinky’s food kind of embodies what Garden City is, in a way, because it draws from a variety of ethnic inspirations. They have a Vietnamese-styled sandwich, an “All-American , Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf” sandwich, Korean-style, African braised beef sandwich and more.
“To us, Garden City is a melting pot,” Candice said.
“It’s like a crossroads of cultures and generations,” Jose added. “It doesn’t matter who they are, we have something for everybody. I think that’s one of the coolest things about owning Pinky’s.”