The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen has announced franchise opportunities now available across the United States. The popular San Francisco fast-casual grilled cheese eatery has developed a strategy to have an outlet in every major city. Founder and CEO Nate Pollak seeks to open 10 franchise units in the West and Southwest regions of the nation over the next three years, and then push further North and East.
Fans of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen have been clamoring for more locations since the opening of the flagship store at 1 South Park St. in San Francisco in May 2010. Two additional stores have been opened in subsequent years, also in San Francisco. Owners Nate Pollak and Heidi Gibsonhave received hundreds of requests from fans across the country to open new restaurants.
"We've always been a home-grown concept. But there's demand for us to grow and the timing is perfect. We've spent the last two years honing in our menu, operations and supply chain to take our local artisan sandwich shop to the national level," says Gibson.
AGCK was born after Gibson, a technology executive (with a master's degree from MIT) turned grilled cheese chef, won her 7th championship at the Grilled Cheese Invitational (an annual grilled cheese competition in Los Angeles). Customers line up daily to sink their teeth into soups, salads, sandwiches and baked treats that are prepared from scratch at the locations. The launch of their grilled cheese-focused cookbook, "Grilled Cheese Kitchen" in 2016 - a national best-seller on Amazon, and their baked treats cookbook, "Muffins & Biscuits" in 2017, plus several television appearances, blazed the trail for national interest.
Their best-selling sandwich is their most simple, the Mousetrap: Tillamook medium cheddar, Monterey Jack and creamy Havarti on buttered San Francisco sourdough bread, grilled to melted perfection! Yet enthusiasts laud their more sophisticated options, like their Cubano: Jarlsberg, gruyere, cocoa-rubbed pulled pork, artisan-cured ham, housemade pickles, stone-ground mustard, on chipotle-buttered country levain bread. Pair anything with their famous Smoky Tomato Soup, and if you come for breakfast, you can add a fresh-fried egg.
Pollak and Gibson have plans to open additional company-owned AGCK locations in the Bay Area and continue to grow the catering and events branch of their enterprise. Franchising marks the first step in planned expansion across the United States and will give investors and operators the opportunity to bring this wildly successful brand to customers outside of the Bay Area.
"We are a daytime-focused concept that appeals to urban professionals and young families. Sure, anyone can make grilled cheese at home; but with our unique ingredients and over-the-top service, we elevate the grilled cheese into a unique culinary and exceptional dining experience that has customers coming back for more. Our stores are inexpensive to build - they only take up 1,000 square feet max, and have been proven to outperform industry financial metrics," states Pollak.
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