TOM+CHEE: Building a Grilled Cheese Empire 

Turn-Key Solutions Lesson Growing Pains for Fast-Casual Dining Restaurant Chain                      

Tom+Chee retail store seating   Tom+Chee retail store fixtures

The Opportunity

Tom+Chee started as a seasonal, grilled cheese vendor in a tent in downtown Cincinnati in 2009, serving grilled cheese and tomato soup. Now, as they celebrate their 5th year in business, they have grown at an incredible pace to include multiple brick-and-mortar stores with exciting growth plans in the near future.

The opportunity stemmed from their growing pains, which is a great challenge to have. Tom+Chee wanted to take a hard look at the design and function of their current fast-casual dining restaurants and redesign a new flagship store that would also be rolled out to the rest of the franchisees in the U.S. The focus needed to capture the founder’s and executive team’s vision of a lighthearted, “Eat What’s Fun” atmosphere, but, also create a fresh look that delivered an amazing customer dining experience that would lead them into the future.

They needed a turn-key vendor that could fine-tune their concept and streamline the process of executing their growth plans.

The Solution

Tom+Chee’s team partnered with KDM P.O.P. Solutions Group’s retail environments division, KDM Retail, to collaborate and execute their new store concept. “We wanted to build a relationship with a vendor that could provide consistency for our restaurant franchisees by adapting the new store concept to a variety of footprints.” [Brad Cousino, Director, Asset Management , Tom+Chee]

The color palette and décor are bold, bright and cheery. A variety of textures and dimensions were used in the space to create a fun vibe: such as corrugated metal, dimensional graphics and multiple finishes and fabrics. The end result is a comfortable, yet exciting retail environment that communicates the brand.

KDM Retail’s partnership provided Tom+Chee with innovative, turn-key solutions with the ability to execute the entire project from one source:  

  • Store design
  • Millwork and store fixtures
  • Furniture fabrication
  • Store décor
  • Signage and graphics
  • Installation
  • Point-of-purchase printed materials

The Result

View Tom+Chee's video testimonial

“The millwork, the tables, chairs, beverage and hostess stations, furniture and the interior décor and graphics, are all the end product- the frosting on the cake. It made sense to complete all this with one preferred vendor partner that can complete everything. For me, most importantly for my company and our franchisees, is are we getting the best value possible from this relationship? KDM is the company that solves this area and I know that it is being taken care of.  We are working on this together as a team, and if we can continually fine tune the end product by asking ‘How can we do this better?’ then we will knock it out of the park.” [Brad Cousino]

KDM is excited to have the opportunity to partner with another Cincinnati based company poised for growth. With currently over 20,000 requests for a Tom+Chee franchise, spreading Grilled Cheese Goodness across the country should be a lot of fun!