If you thought that fancy grilled cheese sandwiches were endemic only to urban coastal areas with a high concentration of facial hair and earnest whimsy, think again. In August, the Melt, a “fast casual restaurant” business, will open the first of what it says will be 500 locations in the next five years. And it’s all because of the guy who created the Flip Video camcorder.
NPR has an interview with Jonathan Kaplan, who, in addition to creating the Melt, made a fortune democratizing home video. Kaplan’s idea for his grilled cheese chain predated our current quasi-craze by several years: A decade ago, he went to the Mall of America to ask shoppers what kind of food made them happy and discovered that “people love grilled cheese.”
According to the company’s website, the Melt will offer “grilled cheese sandwiches artfully paired with seasonally fresh soups to create unexpected combos.” Preparing the sandwiches will involve “European Designed Grills that balance two specialized tasks” — more commonly known as toasting and melting — and the “chefs” will employ a bit of OCD ingenuity by pinching the bread to form air pockets that will better catch the melting cheese.
Everything will be finished with grated Parmesan and “exclusive seasoning blends to draw out the all-natural distinctiveness of the cheese and bread.” If that’s somehow not enough, soups will be aerated “for combinations of flavors and textures that until now have been
reserved for traditional fine dining experiences.”
We thought people only got away with this sort of shit in New York, but apparently we’re not that far off: The first Melt locations will open in San Francisco.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 29, 2011