There might as well be a permanent smudge on the front door of Tom+Chee. So many passersby have pressed their foreheads onto the glass, peering inside to see if the new grilled cheese shop is open, that you can see the marks they've left behind.
They won't have to wait much longer: Tom+Chee opens Thursday, July 16 in Richardson. The Dallas Morning News got the first look inside.
Here's what you should know about this new-to-Texas restaurant:
Tom+Chee got famous on Shark Tank.
Yes -- the show that features Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and several of his billionaire buddies. Tom+Chee started in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a tent next to an ice skating rink. Shark Tank entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran invested in the company and it has since grown into a franchise. The Richardson store will be the 35th for the brand but the first in Texas.
They do grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and grilled cheese doughnuts.
If all you read was "grilled cheese doughnuts," great, you're still human. Consider Tom+Chee a lunch and dinner spot first, with sandwiches as simple as a "Ham+chee" (that's ham and cheese) and as complicated as the "Armagoetta" (a sausauge, peppers and fried onion sandwich with white bread on one side, rye on the other).
Back to the grilled cheese doughnuts, please.
Tom+Chee has an entire menu of grilled cheese doughnuts that are meant to be eaten as dessert. (Whether you share them with a friend or keep them all to yourself: That's a personal decision.) The sandwiches are made by cutting a glazed doughnut in half, then turning the sugared side of the doughnut toward the center of the sandwich. The "S'more" grilled cheese doughnut oozes with marshmallow mascarpone and chocolate; the graham crackers add a nice crunch. It's a can't-miss among a menu of sweet treats.
Keep an eye on the specials; they could become your special order.
The Richardson shop's regular menu, created by company co-founder Trew Quackenbush, is almost identical to the other Tom+Chee stores. But Texas franchise owners Wendy and Greg Sippel got the founders' approval to add a few Texas-specific items. A brisket grilled cheese sandwich is an example: It's brisket, cheddar, tangy barbecue sauce, red onions and pickles.
Specials will be available as the kitchen staff chooses. So what happens if you fall in love with the cookies and cream grilled cheese doughnut and it's not a special that day? Ask: They'll make it if they can.
Keep an eye out for other wacky specials like a dessert doughnut with Pop Rocks and another one with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
Don't totally 'get' Tom+Chee? Just wait.
The Sippel family wants to open four more grilled cheese shops in Collin County and five in Tarrant County in the next five years. (Count 'em: That's 10, including the new Richardson store.) Greg Sippel assents that some landlords don't "get" the idea of a grilled cheese shop since there aren't any Tom+Chees in Texas yet.
As he explains it, Tom+Chee is a $9-per-meal kind of place, and the world needs more affordable lunch spots.
The restaurant is located at 1251 State Street, Suite 800, in Richardson. It's in CityLine, a $1.5 billion development near Central Expressway and the George Bush Turnpike that will eventually have restaurants, shops, offices, apartments, a hotel and a grocery store.