Tom+Chee’s success comes from remixing one of America’s most-beloved pairings: tomato soup and grilled cheese.
Fortunately for Fort Collins, this nationally-recognized restaurant has a brand new local location at 2909 East Harmony Rd.
“The ‘yes’ (for opening the restaurant came) when I actually got to taste the food and found the great location,” said Tom+Chee co-owner Ryan Ness. “It put me in Fort Collins, where I love to eat.”
CSU alumnus and Tom+Chee cashier Jo O’Brien said some customers are overwhelmed by the ‘build your own’ section that lists every ingredient in the kitchen, but that those topping options are what take the classic grilled cheese sandwich turn into, “something special.”
“You can’t make these grilled cheese sandwiches at home,” O’Brien said.
Jorden Kreimer, Tom+Chee’s lead staff trainer, said that the shop has had an average opening, and is currently trying to figure out how the local palette differs from other places’.
“Since this is the farthest west we’ve gone, we tried to see how hard it is to introduce guetta to this market,” Kreimer said. “It’s a very Cincinnati-local thing.”
Guetta is ground pork shoulder and steel-cut oats marinated in spices, and can be added on any grilled cheese sandwich.
Customers can pair their custom grilled cheese sandwiches with in-house tomato soups in the classic, creamy and chunky varieties. Tom+Chee also serves daily and seasonal soups, which include gazpacho (cold soup) in the summertime.
“You’re not going to get anything that’s been pre-packaged or processed here,” Kreimer said. “(It’s) all fresh, and you can’t beat the ingredients. It’s pretty healthy, too. We use a soy butter instead of regular dairy butter, (and) our rye bread is probably the healthiest bread we have. You’re also not going to be able to get a grilled cheese donut anywhere else.”
That’s right: what was a fair attempt to be a health-conscious grilled cheese shop dips solidly into the lardaceous category with the introduction of the grilled cheese donut to the menu.
According to Kraimer, Tom+Chee founders Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward were watching a Food Network show and saw people put burgers on donuts. This led them to think that they could create a more simple and classic combination. They paired a variety of cheeses and donuts and found that cheddar with a glazed donut was the most flavorful combo.
“It’s been pretty intense,” said Kraimer of the popularity of the grilled cheese donut. “It took off. People loved it in Cincinnati, and everywhere we’ve gone it’s probably one of the biggest sellers.”
The staff got to taste the menu before opening, and while they first thought the idea of a grilled cheese donut was “so weird,” the blend of sweet and savory soon had them picking favorites.
“The strawberry lemonade, because it has candied lemons that we candy in house,” O’Brien said on her favorite. “It has fresh strawberries and a really special lemon mascarpone. It’s fantastic. I could actually eat that on a summer’s day instead of drinking a glass of lemonade. It’s that refreshing.”
Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.