Local family behind Wasabi Juan’s debuts food truck, feeds homeless community in Linn Park

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
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Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
Wasabi Juan’s food truck on Serve Day, July 14. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

The Toro family puts a lot of love into the food they serve at Wasabi Juan’s, and they treat their customers like family. On Saturday, July 14, they brought that love to Linn Park to feed the homeless residents of downtown Birmingham.

The lunch was part of Serve Day, a citywide event led by Church of the Highlands. Luis and Barby Toro, along with daughter Jessica Toro Hardisson, have been members since 2008 when the family moved from Miami to Birmingham and found home.

“We fell in love with Alabama the day after we got here. This is paradise.”—Barby Toro

The Toros have participated in Serve Day before, but this year’s event was special.

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
The new Wasabi Juan’s food truck has a supercute paint job. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

For the first time ever, the family’s restaurant, Wasabi Juan’s, went mobile for the cause, debuting its brand-new food truck to serve meals to those in need.

Full Bellies, Full Hearts

The Serve Day menu from Wasabi Juan’s food truck offered two of the restaurant’s signature sushi burritos:

  • Cowboy—steak, avocado, cream cheese and sesame (gluten free)
  • The Blazer—chicken, cream cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, cabbage and spicy mango mayo (gluten free)
Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
Serve Day at Linn Park. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
Sushi Burrito, What?

Sushi burritos are Wasabi Juan’s specialty. They feature fresh, top-quality ingredients rolled, like sushi, in sticky rice with a paper-thin soy or nori wrap. The roll is cut into two large halves and eaten by hand, like a burrito.

For Serve Day, the Wasabi Juan’s food truck served only cooked chicken and steak sushi burritos to accommodate anyone with food allergies.

When the Wasabi Juan’s food truck rolls out service to the general public, it will serve a wider menu that changes regularly. Raw sushi and cooked chicken, steak and seafood options will all be in rotation.

Follow Wasabi Juan’s food truck schedule and updates on Instagram @wasabijuantogo.

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
Serve Day at Linn Park. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
Just People, Serving One Another

For the Serve Day festivities, Wasabi Juan’s teamed up with Chris Carr of the Just People Project. The Just People Project regularly feeds and ministers to the homeless community in downtown Birmingham. The day included:

  • meals
  • ice-cold bottled water
  • medical tent
  • haircuts
  • feet washing station
  • donated clothing
  • hygiene care packages
  • music

But there was something intangible about Serve Day, too.

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
Serve Day at Linn Park. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Volunteers and members of Birmingham’s homeless community talked, played tag football, danced and lip synched to Michael Jackson. It was fellowship in action.

It makes sense that the Toros wanted Wasabi Juan’s to be part of Serve Day. Treating everyone like family and celebrating together is what the restaurant is all about.

Words To Live By (And Run A Business By)

“We take care of the restaurant as if it were another room in our house. When you visit, we make sure you’re taken care of and you’re greeted. When we prepare food, we do it as if it were for our mom or dad. You can feel the love in it.”—Luis Toro

That approach to business has paid off. Since opening the doors of Wasabi Juan’s in Avondale in 2014, the Toros have gained happy, loyal customers and expanded into the greater Birmingham metro area.

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's, Serve Day, Linn Park
Sushi burritos and edamame. Photo via Wasabi Juan’s Instagram @wasabijuan
Where To Find Wasabi Juan’s
  • Avondale: located at 4120 3rd Avenue South, adjacent to the Sour Room.
  • Hoover: located at 3732 Lorna Road.
  • Coming Soon! Inverness Heights Market: Opens August 2018. Enter the shopping center at the intersection of Highway 280 and Cahaba Beach Road.
  • Coming soon! Food truck: The first stop? Wasabi Juan’s upcoming location in Inverness Heights Market.

Follow Wasabi Juan’s on Facebook and Instagram (@wasabijuan for the restaurant and @wasabijuantogo for the food truck) to keep up with grand openings, food truck locations and community service activities.

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