Cityscape

Tom+Chee’s expansion to Olathe started with ‘Shark Tank’

The Tom+Chee restaurant will open at 14991 W. 119th Street in Olathe on Friday.
The Tom+Chee restaurant will open at 14991 W. 119th Street in Olathe on Friday. Special to the Star

Cincinnati-based Tom+Chee took a classic comfort food combo — grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup — and turned it into a new gourmet theme that is quickly spreading across the country.

Area franchisee Randy Brock plans to open the metro’s first Tom+Chee in Olathe Pointe, 14991 W. 119th St., Olathe, at 11 a.m. Friday. He also owns the Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Olathe Pointe, as well as others in the metro.

Brock plans at least four more of the fast-casual Tom+Chee restaurants and is currently in discussions for sites in Lee’s Summit.

Tom+Chee started as a food tent in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. But after the founders pitched their business on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in May 2013, they said they received more than 20,000 inquiries from people who wanted to operate their own Tom+Chee.

The Olathe restaurant will be the 17th location for the company and regional locations also are planned for St. Louis, as well as Lincoln and Omaha in Nebraska.

The restaurants — with bright red, gold, white and black decor — use fresh ingredients for their “quirky takes” on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Customers can build their own sandwiches for $3.99 from a variety of meat, cheese and vegetable choices. Tom+Chee also offers such specialty grilled sandwiches as the Hippy+Chee (hummus, cucumber, mixed greens, diced tomatoes, cheddar and wheat), the Crunchy Garlic Chicken (with roasted chicken, grilled onion, diced tomato, sweet hot mustard, garlic seasonings, Parmesan garlic chips, and pepper jack cheese on wheat) and the Armagoetta (Cincinnati’s Goetta sausage, spicy cherry pepper, crunchy fried onion, sweet hot mustard, and pepper jack on sourdough and rye).

For an extra crunch, the sandwiches can be topped with potato chips for 50 cents, or with mac-and-cheese for $2. A $1.50 mini soup is for dipping.

Tom+Chee also has gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan sandwich options, entree salads, three different tomato soups and a daily soup special. Its Fancy Grilled Cheese Donuts include the S’more (with chocolate pieces, marshmallow mascarpone and graham cracker) and the Blueberry Blue (with blueberry compote, blue cheese, mozzarella, and lemon mascarpone).

Customers order at the counter, take a number, and in a few minutes the crew will make up their order fresh. Customers also can sit at a bar at the open kitchen to watch the action.

“I’ve been really surprised with how many people know the name from Shark Tank,” Brock said. “Most people also identify with grilled cheese and tomato soup from their childhood. But they are really intrigued by the doughnut combinations — really interesting combinations of the sweet and salty.”

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC

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