February 5, 2021 – Homestead, FL – Pedaling into the Everglades to camp overnight I needed to stock up on supplies and “Robert is Here Fruit Stand” was the perfect stop.
The corner fruit stand was started by then 6-year-old Robert Moehling. Now, nearly 60 years later, the salt-and-pepper Moehling has built a small empire of fresh produce, acclaimed sandwich-and-shake masterpieces and an environment that carries personal service to a new level.
Clerks don’t ring up your order; they add it by hand, putting yellow pencil to brown paper bag. There’s also assistance at the ready to transport boxes of groceries to a vehicle.
“My family thought I was dyslexic because I had a hard time reading,” said Robert. “But doing math came easy. That is what I teach my employees. There’s not a calculator on site.”
“Robert is Here” is not a five-minute grocery visit; it is an experience.
Robert and his staff are knowledgeable and personable. Robert is first to arrive at 5 a.m. and generally last to leave. It is a routine he keeps seven days a week.
On my return visit from the Everglades, Robert offered a welcome. “You’re back. How was camping with the crocs?”
I didn’t know he was watching me. Nothing gets past Robert. He greets all customers by name. “Have a good day, Erma,” he said to a tiny, older woman with white hair and glasses. “Don’t rob any banks today.”
He is grandfatherly in his demeanor and welcoming with his interactions. For West Benders, he was very George Prescott.
During my return visit I tried the lunch counter with a fresh Cuban sandwich and strawberry with coconut milkshake.
The Cuban was the best sandwich I ever had with warm bread, a healthy helping of ham, slow-roasted pork and Swiss cheese. The best part was the blend of mustard, mayo and sweet pickle.
Robert took a break from the front counter and came over and surprised me with a slice of key lime pie and an autographed copy of his autobiography “Robert is here: looking East for a lifetime.”
If you ever visit southern Florida, make sure “Robert is Here” is part of your trip.
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