Founder of Slapfish, a FoodTruck Turned Fast Casual Shares Success Stories and Some of his Past Mistakes

Once upon a time, Slapfish, which now has six stores in California, was just a food truck cruising southern Cali serving fish sandwiches and tacos with sustainable seafood. 

Andrew Gruel,the 36-year-old founder of the concept, started working in the fine dining industry, but his life changed when he began a position as the director of Seafood at the Aquarium of the Pacific. 

In 2011, he missed the restaurant industry and decided to start a new venture because he recognized that there was a gap in the restaurant market. 

"At the time there was a huge gap in the market. The only option you had for seafood was fine dining or cheap Long John Silver’s style. In every other sector of food you started to see better pizza, the better burger movement. In the fast casual realm, a step up from fast food and a step down from casual dining, there was nothing for seafood," said Gruel to "Forbes."

With limited funds available, Gruel leased a truck and started to serve only three menu items out of it big sloppy fish sandwich, a fish taco and a lobster roll. He would hit up popular areas in Orange County and Los Angeles first. 

The food truck was an instant success and three months later, he had three food trucks.  

Gruel's goal all the long was to save up enough funds to start a restaurant. After a some bad weather detouring customers, Gruel thought it was time to open a brick-and-mortar store. 

"I started the food trucks in May but by December it started to rain a little bit and in California, people don’t leave the house if there’s the slightest rain and it’s 65 degrees. By December I had to turn two trucks in. I started driving around trying to find restaurants that were going bankrupt. I found an old bagel shop in Huntington Beach. The lease had four years left on it. I figured if I raised $100,000 I could build the restaurant out. I went around to friends and family and ended up raising $150,000," said Gruel to "Forbes."

Although the concept has continued to grow in popularity, like for most restaurant operators starting their first business, Gruel admits to some big mistakes he made on the way. 

Read more from "Forbes" about what some of them were and about how a massive deal to open 75 Slapfish restaurants in Dubai also fell through.