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Mike Zdebiak, a second-generation purveyor of fun food at carnivals, fairs, and festivals, is the owner of Meester Mike's of Coral Gables. The company is thriving post-pandemic, offering chicken wings and fries, roasted corn, pizza, lemonade, and turkey legs. Wings, fries, and corn, all offered in a variety of flavors, are his mainstays.

Having been with the company since he was 18, now at 39, he is continuing to grow what was his recently departed father's business, expanding into the roasted corn offering which has been a big hit for Meester Mike's.

“We have two wings and fries' concession trailers and a pizza concession trailer, we also have truss metal set-ups for events as well,” he says.

The company travels a Canadian route in the summer, and then heads into the U.S. for the winter months. “On our route we cover events in Winnipeg, Toronto, Ontario, the Calgary Alberta Stampede, the Canadian National Exhibition, among others. I live down in Florida currently, and we start our winter season with the Big E, the Eastern States Exhibition in Springdale, Mass. Then we go to Perry, Ga., that's a big fair for us, and finally down to the Miami Dade fair in Fla., and we also do smaller festivals down here in the winter month.”

While he describes the route as busy, he also says it's a lot of fun. “The Canadian route is very serious, you're busy or on the move every second, so there's very little sleep, some of that is due to the distances driving, but we also have 2-5 day events, and two eighteen-day events, which is how it is in Toronto.” He notes that “I enjoy the different cities and traveling. We have a nice routine, stopping in certain towns, enjoying the restaurants we like and things like that.”

Zdebiak has 8-12 full time employees and 15-20 part-timers. “Many of our full-time staff work all year and go between both Canada and the U.S. Our part time staff are local and hired per the event location.”

He describes the last several seasons as “very busy and very good for us, although staffing was a little rough. I would say business has been even stronger than pre-pandemic.”

This is a welcome circumstance after COVID-19 completely shuttered carnivals and events. “At the start of the pandemic I was at the Miami Dade Fair. It's usually a big event for us, we get new banners, lights, and equipment in place for it, that sort of thing. That was a rough one, because with all that invested, we shut down the day we were to open in March 2020. We didn't have any events until February 2021.”

Now however, he's happy to report that “things have really risen back up again. It's been go-go-go non-stop. In 2021 we didn't get our entire Canadian route back, but we got a part of it, and within a few months everything was a for-sure go-ahead. Getting back into the groove of things after the shutdown was a little rough.”

According to Zdebiak “2023 is looking good so far, and we are planning another great year. Staffing is getting better, too, I've been learning to do some things I didn't do in the past, like going to a staffing agency to find people, now that things have opened up a bit more.” Meester Mike's does not use foreign labor, he says.

Returning to the food itself, Zdebiak discusses the variety he offers while still staying with his core items. “With wings and fries our main things, we do offer different varieties of them in terms of toppings. Our fries, we can serve with bacon and cheese, bacon cheddar ranch, and of course poutine, which is especially big in Canada. In Perry, Ga., we served Korean BBQ fries. Those were good. I try to keep it simple, although we offer many different toppings, I don't want to take away from the core business itself,” he says.

The same is true with the variety of tastes Meester Mike's offers for wings. While the meaty wings themselves are the thing, of course, he can serve them as flavored with “a hot honey garlic sauce, teriyaki lemon pepper, garlic ranch, and we can offer the flavors as hot or mild. On our corn, we do really well with the Flamin' Hot Cheetos flavor, as well as the parmesan cheese with spicy mayo. We have a lot of customers who are coming in for the corn. We get a lot of repeat customers for that, too.” When it comes to pizza, Zdebiak offers plain cheese, pepperoni, Hawaiian style, and mushroom, “nothing too crazy,” he says.

Overall, he notes “We are all about the quality of our food. Everything is fresh, nothing is frozen. We make our pizza dough ourselves. We marinate our chicken tenders and bread them ourselves. We cut our potatoes fresh. I have a lot of pride in the food, and so does our staff.”

As Zdebiak continues to follow proudly in his father's footsteps and add new food innovations, one thing will not change – offering great, fresh-made eats at events across Canada and on the east coast of the U.S.
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