BIZ FEATURE: BRAD’S FOOD TRUCK SERVING UP CLASSIC JERSEY SUBS

Brad’s offers everything from bagels to pancakes to fried fish baskets. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

“I’m experienced in subs. I did it for seven years, and fell in love with it – the Jersey style of making subs.”

Brad Epstein believes that subs should be fresh and made the way his customers want. Having run seven Jersey Mike’s shops in Maryland, where he’s from, he learned a thing or two about how to put together a darn good sandwich. Now, he’s using that knowledge to serve up delicious subs and other foods from his eponymous food truck in Tavernier. 

“We’re fresher. Everything is sliced fresh on the slicer here. Nothing is pre-cut, other than lettuce, onions and tomatoes,” he said proudly. He also gets fresh bread every day and sources everything locally, if possible. It’s what sets his food apart from other sandwich shops, he insisted. 

The Brad’s food truck sits in the Florida Keys Dive Center parking lot at MM 90. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

When the pandemic hit, Epstein decided to give some thought to his long-time dream of owning his own restaurant. After seeing how expensive real estate is, Brad started exploring food truck options instead. He and his friend and co-chef, Sergio Valle, settled on the Florida Keys as a destination. They’d met in the military years before.

While it took Epstein almost a year to work through municipal and state licensing issues, he and Valle did finally arrive in Tavernier in early 2022. They joined Epstein’s father, who was born and raised in Islamorada and still lives there. After purchasing a used food truck in town, Brad’s was born! 

Brad Epstein and Sergio Valle man Brad’s truck everyday. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

“It feels good. We’re definitely still learning. This is our third month in, so we’re still learning and we’re improving,” said Epstein. 

Epstein innovates by listening to his clients’ suggestions for things like adding banana peppers, mushrooms and jalapeños to the menu. 

In terms of new specials, Valle tells us about their chicken bacon ranch club. The California native came up with the idea one day when he was fooling around with ingredients they had. The sandwich started as the Club Sub, but Valle swapped chicken for the meats and ranch for the mayo. It  made it an entirely different sandwich – and one that people can’t get enoug of. Even when it’s not listed on the specials menu, people continue to request it, Epstein said. To his best ability, he continues to make it and serve it, as requested.

“Even if something isn’t on the menu, if I have the ingredients, I’ll make whatever you want, however you want,” Epstein said. “I’ll always make it work for the customer.”

All of Brad’s food is freshly sliced, cut and fried. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Overall, Brad’s subs have great ingredients and some unique touches, like a special sweet pepper mix in their Steak N Cheese and homemade buffalo sauce for their buffalo chicken sub (Brad’s favorite). If you want some breakfast fare, they offer a variety of bagel sandwiches and pancakes. Brad’s also sells fresh key lime aid and smoked fish dip, both of which come from local ingredients. 

“We try to be as local as we can be,” Epstein said. “It makes a difference in the quality and taste.”

Brad’s is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, other than every other Tuesday, when they’re closed for maintenance. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Parking is in the Florida Keys Dive Center parking lot off Old Highway at MM 90. 

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Tiff Duong is a self-made mermaid who loves all things cheesy (romantic and dairy) and thrives in the 3 am hour. She believes in leaving it all on the field and has never met a (mis)adventure she didn't love.