We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Truong and Jorge Islas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kim and Jorge, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
There actually wasn’t a big sit-down meeting where we planned out Frank Grizzly’s. It all kind of happened on a fluke. Jorge and I have always worked together. We met as co-workers at a corporate recruiting firm back in 2008. We were co-workers turned acquaintances, later friends and now married, but first, we were co-workers. In 2018, when we started Frank Grizzly’s, I was working from home and 7 months pregnant with our second child. Jorge was managing a couple of food trucks and we were frankly, just missing each other. After working together for nearly a decade, suddenly being apart for an entire workday felt awkward. So we thought that we would start a pop-up where we could cook together and run service together again, for fun. It was meant to be a little side gig, just something we did on occasion to start a vacation fund, but it went so well that we are both now able to make this our full-time gig.

I think the thought process behind it was simple for us. Neither one of us are one’s to shy away from hard work. We both leave it all on the table with everything that we do and we knew this about each other and we knew that running your own business would require just that, hard work, early days, late nights. We had both been putting in that level of commitment in all of the jobs that we were at together, so putting it all into a business of our own just made sense. I think knowing that we have each other’s back and that we would both be figuring it out together was all that mattered. Win, Lose or Draw, as long as we were together, nothing else mattered.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

Frank Grizzly’s was named after our alter egos. I once read somewhere that a well-thought-out alter ego could help to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. It can allow you to step outside of the box that you’ve created for yourself and do something that’s totally out of character for you. In essence, your alter ego can help you get out of your own way.

Frank Grizzly’s is authentic to who we are and is a true labor of love. Anchor Brewing Company opened up a public taproom a few years ago and we have since been a part of the regular food rotation every week. We are open 4 nights a week inside of Anchor Public Taps, Wednesday thru Saturday in the Potrero Hill District of San Francisco. We serve up some one-of-a-kind, California-inspired, Mexican food inside of the busy taproom. Our dishes include a very popular Grizzly style QuesaBirria served crispy with a melted cheese skirt and a savory cup of consommè for sipping and dipping, a delicious Chipotle Chicken Taco that is made with our own homemade chipotle molè, a very popular Roasted Duck option for tacos, nachos, quesadillas or burritos and Super Frankie Nachos that will make you re-think all the other nachos that you’ve ever had before.

We aren’t following your conventional business path, so to speak.  We get asked about opening a food truck or brick and mortar pretty often and our answer has remained the same, which is that when the time feels right, we will grow.  This business started organically and we intend to continue to grow it organically, at it’s own pace and at the right time and in the right place.  The beauty of our schedule and set-up now, is that it allows us the flexibility to dedicate 2-3 days a week to making “LOVE BOWLS ” for our community in need.  The pandemic really opened our eyes up to the greater needs of people who suffer from food and shelter insecurity in our city.  We are so grateful that we are able to do our small part to bring change to those families and strive to continue our efforts to support our unhoused communities.

The way we see it, sometimes you just have to start making little moves to get the momentum going, to create some waves that will bring in different opportunities and new beginnings. We are a couple of hard-working people who knew close to nothing about starting their own business. Mistakes were made, dues were paid, and even after or rather during a pandemic, we still stand. We still aren’t 100% certain of what is in store for us next, but that’s part of the fun for us. We are certain, that whatever it is, we will handle it, Frankie and Grizzly’s way.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is such a tough question because there really is so much good food in the city and we practically live in a postcard, so sometimes a cruise in the car with a cooler full of snacks is really the best way to decide where we are going to eat. Our days are long in the kitchen and at service, so when we get some time off, we try to fit as much into our days as possible. We miss out on a lot of birthdays and celebrations with friends and family, so being in spaces with people we love with good food and beautiful scenery is always a top priority for us when we can.

We have two little ones at home so when we are off work, it’s really prime time to shine in the kitchen for our little kings. They have a long list of their own personal requests when they know it’s our days off and Sunday breakfast spreads are always pretty epic in the Grizzly household. If you are visiting us, 100% we are throwing down. Breakfasts usually consist of the usual crispy bacon with eggs and potatoes with heaps of fresh farmers market fruits and whatever the Grizzly brings back from the Stonestown Farmers Market every Sunday. If we are lucky we will have some leftover Birria and maybe some consommè from Saturday’s service. We usually throw the Birria over some hashbrowns with a fried egg on top with some salsa verde and queso fresco for an ultimate feast. With the little guys in tow, we are usually on the move and outdoors as much as possible trying to get all that energy out of them. Most of the places we go to are very family-friendly, outdoors, and have perfected their take-out.

We are a family of skaters, so once we are fueled up we usually hop in the car and cruise around to find an open space to shred. The pandemic gave birth to this latest obsession of ours, so you can likely find us in the back of a parking lot, or behind a loading dock of a building somewhere trying to shred. SF State (Kim’s Alma Mater) is a regular spot, as is City College for some ramps. When we are in need of some water, we love to cruise down PCH by Ocean Beach. After working up an appetite, we might make a stop at either Submarine Center in West Portal for a Hot Pastrami and a Meatball Sub for the boys or at Dinosaurs over in Lakeview Plaza for some Banh Mi’s and maybe a quick game of chess or Jenga in their little parklet.

San Francisco is full of so many different pockets of randomness to be found at any given time. Each neighborhood is filled with its own uniqueness that can make you feel like you are in a different part of the world sometimes. The Mission has always held a special place in our hearts. We’ve literally seen its transformation over the years. Businesses that have come and gone, new businesses that have popped up. But one business, in particular, serves as a constant inspiration to us.
La Palma has been around since 1953. They are family-owned and operated and they serve up some of the freshest ingredients such as masa for tamales and tortillas, etc. We actually get our tortillas from them daily for both our tacos and our quesadillas, but even on our days off, you can find us in there picking up ingredients for dinner, or sometimes a quick burrito for the road.

Also in the mission is Tamales El Ruben. If you are an early bird, like Jorge is, there is a tamale lady that sets up on the corner of 26th and Folsom. We were driving around early one morning several years ago and saw a huge group of construction workers crowded around this woman and her shopping cart. I sent Jorge out to see what was happening and she was slanging some of the best tamales that we had ever had! Her pork tamales come in a spicy verde sauce that can barely be contained in the masa. We literally woke up early the next day and scoured the neighboring blocks until we found her again. She sells out by 7:30 am some days so if you find her and she isn’t sold out, you should play the lotto that day.

We love Golden Gate Park in the late afternoons, early evenings when the crowds are starting to disperse and the sun starts to set behind the trees. We usually dip into the Botanical Gardens for a quick stroll through the Garden of Fragrance and let the kids run free through the meadows, If we time it right and are still hungry, sometimes we bring in a Chile Verde Burrito from El Gordo’s or a personal pizza from Pasquale’s for the kids to munch on while we sit and watch the kids chase after the geese. As the evening sets in, we skate over to the Academy of Science and shred the concourse until the kids are ready to call it a night.

I promise you, we eat more than just Mexican Food! Here is a list of go-to places that we hit up on the regular:

Curry Leaf in North Beach for our favorite Indian Food.
Pink Onion for their amazing Dinner Meal that includes an appetizer, pasta, a pizza, AND dessert!
Mazra’s in San Bruno for Mediterranean Food
Hard Knox Cafe for some Southern Comfort
Shanghai Dumpling for their Spicy Wonton’s and Green onion Pancakes

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We have such a special community that surrounds us. From our vendors to our regulars, new customers, and friends and family, the one’s who support us, go hard for us. As a pop-up with only a real presence inside of a busy brewery, we weren’t sure how things would turn out for us when the city shut down. As days passed and things weren’t re-opening, there was a real moment where we had to ask ourselves what we were gonna do if we couldn’t re-open. When we did finally re-open and offered pick up from our warehouse kitchen, we held our breath, unsure if we anyone would be down to pick up from a lonely warehouse strip mall. But they came. They actually came and they kept coming and they told friends and family members and co-workers, and some how our IG following grew, and we were getting calls and messages from people who saw us on IG and wanted to order and we stayed afloat. Our little pop-up made it, and it was all thanks to our community that rallies and comes together to support our grind. Im not sure what it feels like for other business owners who have their own supporters, but our community, our supporters, they go so hard for us, and we are so grateful for it every day.

Website: www.frankgrizzly.com

Instagram: @frankgrizzlys

Facebook: @frankgrizzlys

Other: email: info@frankgrizzly.com

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.