Grilled cheese restaurant to open in Hamburg

Tom + Chee, a restaurant chain that serves grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, will soon open a branch at Hamburg.

The franchised restaurant has a targeted opening date of Dec. 2 and will be at 2200 War Admiral Way, close to Sportsman's Warehouse.

"We want to try to capture as much as we can of those shoppers around at Christmas time," said Adam Johnson, the restaurant's general manager.

Tom + Chee will be open seven days a week, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Cincinnati-based chain, founded by Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward, has two locations in downtown Cincinnati, one in Newport and three in Louisville.

The Hamburg location will be its first in Central Kentucky.

The creators appeared on the television series Shark Tank in May and asked for an investment from Mark Cuban and others. They received $600,000 to develop their brand across the country.

In addition to its variety of cheese and breads, Tom + Chee also sells a grilled cheese donut.

Ward said that since the founder appeared on Shark Tank, the company has had more than 9,000 franchise requests, from Dubai to the Philippines.

The Lexington store will be operated by Louisville franchise owner Richard Tinsley.

By the end of 2013, the Lexington store will be open, as will locations in Freehold, N.J., and Lansing, Mich.

He said that 100 stores are under contract to open, in cities including Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Nashville.

That's a long way from being vendors selling out of a tent in Cincinnati's Fountain Square in 2009.

Ward said the appeal of Tom + Chee is that it's "easy and accessible for everybody," with basic fare customizable to individual tastes.

However, he rails against calling the food "gourmet."

"We always say, we make grilled cheese for the kid at heart," Ward said.

The restaurant also features soups such as cheeseburger and pepperoni pizza in which "you feel like you can taste the crust."