March 25, 2017
On our way out of the Everglades, we got to stop again at Robert’s Fruit Stand, 19200 SW 344th St, Homestead, FL 33034. We picked up a few more things, including a wonderful milkshake. They have so many kinds, it’s hard to choose. Waiting in line, I asked what looked like a veteran in front of me. A very nice gentleman, he said he had been here hundreds of times and tried most of the flavors, but settled on orange/mango and he puts a little honey on it. I did the same and it was great. For my own edification, I would like to try all the others. I talked again with Robert and a nice lady took our picture. This guy is so nice, you feel instantly like you are friends. He knows fruits and vegetables like no one else. They ship fruit and vegetables all over at https://www.robertishere.com. The stand is listed on the National Culinary Heritage Register. Do not miss it!
The history is cool: from Emma Court and the Miami Herald, June 27, 2014:
It’s hard to imagine a time Robert wasn’t here. But back in 1959, Moehling’s father was a struggling farmer with a harvest of cucumbers the broker couldn’t sell and no money to buy boxes for the latest harvest.
He sent Robert — then, a first-grader — to sell the surplus cucumbers by the side of the road, propped on a makeshift table. Robert didn’t sell a single one. The next time, Robert put up a big sign, script painted on some spare hurricane shutters, “telling the world I was here,” Robert explains. The cucumbers sold out.
The stand is still in the same place and has the same name. No longer a piece of plywood and some crates, the stand has expanded in size and selection — scaly fuchsia dragonfruit alongside plump beefsteak tomatoes. Moehling, who has worked at the stand since he was 6 — the schoolbus dropped him there after school — can still be found behind the counter. He met his wife, Tracey, there; his four children, as well as two daughters-in-law, all work at the stand. They built the Splash Pad, a sprinkler for children, in the back because Moehling — who works more than a hundred hours a week — wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.
Moehling himself grew up at a young age: he hired his first employee at the age of 9; at 14, he bought 10 acres of land complete with a house, a car and a lawnmower. By the time he got his driver’s license, Moehling was helping broker produce sales for other farmers.
“I didn’t have a normal childhood like a lot of people might grow up doing. Laying around watching cartoons on weekends is something I’ve never done,” Moehling said. “Even today I can’t watch television — usually I fall asleep.”
Robert is Here has both longtime and first-time customers. Rod Richards of Cutler Bay, who ordered a strawberry milkshake for his young son, said he’d passed by many times and always meant to stop. Having finally checked it off his to-do list, he said he’d be back.
Linnell Truchon, a Philadelphia native who works at a summer camp down the road from the stand, comes by frequently for smoothies. She enjoys the flavored honeys and tropical fruits.
“I’m from up North so I don’t know what these things are,” she said. “They’re really cool.”
Though the stand’s immense popularity is not a recent development — Moehling says he couldn’t handle the number of visitors in 1964 and that it has been “growing equally insane every day” — he is still awed by the number of customers who come in.
“It’s just amazing. I grow fruit and sell fruit and have a family. That’s all I do. I don’t operate on people, don’t change people’s lives for good, don’t fight for you in the courtroom,” he said. “It’s so much responsibility — getting all this for doing just my life.”
Now pushing 62, Moehling says he’ll probably be working at the stand until the day he dies.
“This is not a retirement job,” he said.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/homestead/article1973051.html#storylink=cpy