Forget food-trucks: Food-boat taking Miami's beaches by storm

While food trucks have exploded in popularity across the country, a woman in Miami has come up with a novel idea: she’s taken the food on wheels concept to the coastal waters of sun worshipping Miami.

Every day, Keyla Castillo’s floating restaurant offers up everything from Peruvian-style ceviche to shrimp cocktail, to Cuban sandwiches to hot dogs. Her clients: all those soaking up the sun along the shores of South Florida’s Biscayne Bay and Haulover Beach.

With two boats in operation, the big one and the small one – as Castillo calls them – her business, Raw Bar 2 Go, is booming.

Castillo, a Venezuela native, and her food-boat crew work the shores every Saturday and Sunday during the summer season (May to mid-October).

Her maritime business, she said, began from tragedy. In 2001, Her then-husband, aspiring actor Emilio Plana, was arrested for shooting and killing a man who was renting the couple’s apartment. Although Plana was eventually acquitted, the marriage dissolved.

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Castillo says she needed to move on and was inspired to launch the food boat business, after starting a successful catering company, because it combined all the things she really loved – the ocean, boating, and cooking for people.

But her enterprise got off to a rocky start.

After several thousand dollars, friends offering money, and mechanics taking advantage of her, Castillo was finally able to buy a pontoon boat and all the necessary licenses to float her innovative mobile-ceviche biz. Then she had an engine fall into the ocean and once her boat almost sank.

Then, there were the skeptics.

“At the beginning, people thought I was weird. So, I thought I better give them samples. I gave away thousands of little Ziploc baggies of ceviche to people with my business card taped on it,” she says. “Then people started following me and stopping my boat.”

She credits her success to one thing: “People love my ceviche,” she says.

Castillo proudly flies the flag of her homeland, Venezuela, on the boat, despite selling Peruvian-style ceviche prepared every Friday “with love” she likes to say.