Cincinnati, Ohio-based Tom + Chee plans to opens its next Atlanta area location on the westside. The new grilled cheese and tomato soup eatery will open at the new Westside Ironworks redevelopment on Howell Mill Road, across from Westside Provisions.
Tom + Chee will be located in a 2,650 square foot space, with visibility from Howell Mill Road.
Barcelona Wine Bar from Norwalk, Connecticut-based Barteca Restaurant Group is also opening in the project. Barcelona will be located in a roughly 4,000 square foot freestanding building, the only space shown to have a patio.
Tom + Chee entered the Atlanta market this past April with a location in Kennesaw near the intersection of Ernest Barrett & Cobb Parkways. A new Tom + Chee is scheduled to open this Friday in Alpharetta near North Point Mall. Another location in Buford near the Mall of Georgia is expected to open in early March.
Tom & Chee specializes in assorted "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwiches, but is perhaps most famous for their "grilled cheese doughnut." Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like.
Friends Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush started selling grilled cheese sandwiches from a tent in Cincinnati in December 2009. In 2013, the "cheesy" duo convinced Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban of ABC's Shark Tank that their simple idea was worth serious money. The two sharks invested $600,000 as equal partners with a 30% stake in the company. The cash infusion allowed the entrepreneurs to renovate their existing locations and expand their franchise offerings.
A Shark Tank "Update" episode is scheduled to air tomorrow at 8PM on ABC, Channel 2 WSB, locally.
This past July, the company relocated their company headquarters, relocated their original restaurant to a space 50% larger, and laid off six employees from the corporate team.
Tom + Chee co-founder Trew Quackenbush said of the layoffs "It's something we have to do to make sure we keep growing in the right way." Quackenbush went on to say that "rapid growth" made them "overshoot." Quackenbush also said that while the company has 180 stores "under contract," finding "home run" retail space has been difficult.
There is no doubt that the visibility that the westside location provides the eatery is a "home run." I wonder, though, how the chain will afford what is surely premium rent in a new development with such a moderately priced product.
According to the Kennesaw franchisee, there are currently three active franchise groups in metro Atlanta, each with their own territory.
Today Tom + Chee operates a total of 20 locations with about a dozen more (including Alpharetta & Buford, but excluding Westside), listed as coming soon.
Have you been to a Tom + Chee? Did you see Tom + Chee on Shark Tank? Do you think a "gourmet grilled cheese" eatery is a winning recipe for restaurant success?
Please share your thoughts below.