Grilled cheese is a "simple, memorable food that, when done right, is magical."
It’s kinda hard not to love cheese.
Combine that with the nostalgia one gets when thinking back to their childhood lunches, and it’s no wonder grilled cheese sandwich concepts are popping up around the country.
“Grilled cheese is just something everyone has a great memory of,” says James DiSabatino, owner and chief cheese griller at Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese in Boston, which started with a single food truck in 2011 and expanded to a second truck and finally a brick-and-mortar store in Allston, MA, in May. “Everyone has a great memory of grandma cooking the perfect grilled cheese.”
Grilled cheese sandwiches run the gamut from super simple to complex masterpieces filled with primo ingredients. They can be served quickly or, presented right, they can fit into a chef-driven, fine-dining environment. The popular concepts today each have their own story and fit nicely in their respective niche. There is no clear distinction on who came up with the idea first, but clearly the success of one led to the introduction of the next. Read the full story >>
Concepts growing around the country:
Melt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland
For Matt Fish, grilled cheese had always been a childhood favorite. As he grew older and worked at several fine-dining spots around Cleveland, he found himself in the kitchen after hours playing with grilled cheese variations to take home and eat before going to sleep. The first Melt Bar & Grilled opened in 2006 with 50 seats and was busy from Day 1. Full story >>
The Melt, San Francisco
The Melt was conceived by Jon Kaplan, who also invented the Flip camera. As the story goes, Kaplan wanted to make people happy with simple products and create surprising and delightful experiences. He began researching whether grilled cheese could be a main food attraction for a national chain. Full story >>
Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese, Boston
After touring Europe in a punk band and eating bread and cheese throughout the country, James DiSabatino returned home to Boston in 2009 and decided to launch a food truck. Roxy's was the first truck to park at a public metered space in Boston. Today, the trucks serve explicitly grilled cheese, but the bricks and mortar store also serves burgers and makes its own drinks. DiSabatino says Roxy’s may have to evolve and add different offerings to stay relevant. Full story >>
La Maison du Croque Monsieur, New York City
Yves Jadot is a veteran of the New York restaurant scene, where he saw the Croque Monsieur, a popular French snack made of grilled ham and cheese, become one of his most popular selling items. La Maison du Croque Monsieur expands on the classic sandwich, adding unique cheeses and toppings. Options include a Belgian cheese made with beer, blue cheese, smoked mozzarella and others. Full story >>
Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush emptied their bank accounts in 2009, set up a tent, bought a $150 grill and began serving grilled cheese sandwiches at Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati. The sandwiches took off, and they began expanding the menu. With nine locations open today, goals are 20 or 25 by the end of this year and more than 100 by the end of next. Given its backing from Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran, those goals aren’t unrealistic. Full story >>