When we entered Rise Breakfast and Tacos on Highway 31 in Spanish Fort, we were greeted by Krystal, the owner’s sister, who brought out her magic bag of wonders and told us to pick out a treat. I couldn't imagine what it would be … it was a sticker, and then she instructed us to put it on the wall. The whole place is covered in stickers and I got a cat that was apropos because I'm a cat lover. Krystal says it's magic because everyone picks something meaningful to them. Zeb got a sexy devil superhero girl.  Hmmmm.

Rise is owned and operated by Tony Luna and Erika Sisk and is basically a takeout restaurant with a waiting area. Tables in the waiting area have games to play on them: chess, checkers, dominos, and uno. We didn't play anything while we waited because we were having a great conversation with Tony. 

Tony came from San Jose, California when his Mama brought him to Alabama when he was 17 years old.  His first job in the restaurant industry was at Hooters and within 2 weeks, he learned he had a knack for cooking and was pegged for certified training. He moved next to California Dreaming and later became a sous chef for the first time at the Hangout in Gulf Shores. 

Continuing to climb the proverbial ladder, he became head chef at Baumhowers and finally was named executive Chef at Live Bait in Gulf Shores. In 2016, at Live Bait Restaurant, he met Erika, his partner in both business and romance.  Tony said proudly. “ I got Live Bait’s ranking on TripAdvisor up from 86th to 32nd place!.” Erika interjects that they were just friends then and didn't get together until years later. 

Next, Tony started Good Guys Food Truck, which was the first Food truck in the Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce. Eight years later, California Dreaming calls him back but he realizes that the corporate world is not for him and he starts selling Tacos out of his home in Daphne, calling it Taco Tony’s Underground Taqueria.  

Tony remembers that one day when he and his Mother were driving on Highway 31, they saw the building that housed The Little Cake Shop, and she said that she hoped one day he would buy that building for her when he was rich and famous. (She had had a small deli in a gas station early on.) Well, that building came up for rent and Tony leased it. It needed a lot of work and he let his friends know that he needed help. 

Enter, Erika.  She offered to help but Tony said he couldn't pay her, but she said, “I didn't ask if you could pay me, I asked you if you needed help.” Together, they built a kitchen, painted everything, and opened in May of 2022, becoming best friends along the way. “I've never been in a relationship where we were friends first but it is the best!,” he says.  They are together 24 hours a day and are a very happy couple.

Our lunch, which we enjoyed at a table in the waiting room, was fresh and delicious. I had Nachos Average Nachos which had Barbacoa chicken, queso, pico, and green sauce. The tortilla rounds were super crunchy and held up well with generous toppings. Zeb had two tacos that Krystal recommended, which were fresh and flavorful.  Everything is made to order. The Breakfast menu, which you must see on their website, looks incredible with a variety of ‘Benny’s’ Eggs Benedicts, breakfast burritos, bowls, and even Bananas Foster French Toast.  

Tony and Erika say that their clientele are real people who want real food and have real reactions. The name “Rise” resonates with Tony because it has so many meanings for him in terms of his faith but it also symbolizes his life as he has risen through many obstacles and is emerging into his best life. He walks the walk as a Christian and pays it forward as much as possible, even taking his leftover food to the homeless in Downtown Mobile. 

There is a colorful rooster at the entrance to the restaurant reminding patrons to Rise and Shine!  After our delicious lunch and conversation with Tony, I was satisfied and inspired always to rise and shine.

Rise is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday from 8 to 12 noon with lunch from 12 to 2 pm and Dinner on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 pm. We found another unique treasure in the Scenic 98 Coastal Area! 10198 Highway 31 is the address, the Rooster is calling your name!

May 22, 2024
Epicurean Delights

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