This Fast-Growing Grilled Cheese Chain Is Expanding by 25%

Just about everybody loves a grilled cheese sandwich, and one particular restaurant chain has made grilled cheese a next-level experience. Now, that brand—a Midwest franchise that's been featured on Shark Tank—is about to take their latest, greatest "melt concept" wider to increase their nationwide footprint by a quarter.

If this sounds like gooey good news, keep reading. (Also don't miss The Best Grilled Cheese in Every State, According to Yelp.)

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Tom & Chee started small but mighty.

grilled cheese sandwich press cast iron skillet

Tom & Chee's brand story reveals that the grilled cheese chain originated in "a pop-up tent on Fountain Square in Cincinnati," serving grilled cheese sandwiches "to the cold and hungry crowds visiting the annual outdoor holiday market." Toasty, melted sandwiches on a chilly day definitely sound like a solid recipe, enough for the brand to eventually be featured on Man v. Food Nation, Shark Tank, The Chew, and other television shows.

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Tom & Chee gained a "cult following."

Grilled cheese

By 2017, Tom & Chee gained nationwide recognition as a "a grilled cheese and soup brand with a cult following," according to Restaurant Business. At that point, they were acquired by GSR Brands, which also owned Cincinnati's Gold Star Chili. In the past few years, GSR has taken Tom & Chee from the simple grilled cheese approach to a more evolved "melt concept" in the interest of growing profit margins—as GSR president and CEO Roger David told Restaurant Business, the owners had to pivot Tom & Chee from sandwiches, soups, and salads to a bigger "wow" for customers. "We had to figure out how to elevate the sandwich," David says. "That's when we evolved the concept to melts."

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Now, they're on fire.

Now, with a hearty menu of "protein-based melt sandwiches" that helped Tom & Chee move past the pandemic (though locations in Nashville and Akron, Ohio appear to have recently closed), the parent company sees the small chain as a brand that's officially ready to go bigger. As Restaurant Business reports: "Tom & Chee has nine units, with three more restaurants in the pipeline."

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Tom & Chee could be coming to a city near you.

blt sandwich

From listening to their podcast interview, it doesn't seem that David revealed to Restaurant Business just where the new locations will be. However, their website suggests that Pittsburgh is one of the cities that will soon have its own downtown Tom & Chee with an address listing at PPG Place, while Oklahoma City also just gained their own Tom & Chee.

What the CEO did share is that the new locations will feature this pared-down but delectable menu of melts, as well as lower square footage "to account for more off-premise business." Moving beyond the restaurant walls is a popular move to gain customer interest these days—even Wendy's agrees.

If all this melts down to a sudden grilled cheese craving, don't miss:

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