During my research, I have been fortunate to interview some great entrepreneurs from Yale University. In reviewing my notes from some interviews, I was reminded of Cheeseboy — a Yale founded restaurant selling grilled cheese. Apparently, Michael Inwald and his company are preparing to “spread” the gospel of grilled cheese to consumers in the Northeast. From Bret Thorn at the Nation’s Restaurant News:
Inwald came into the grilled cheese game as an aficionado who practically lived on them while at the Yale School of Management, he recalls.
He made his own sandwiches by buttering them on both sides and then covering the pan in which he cooked them to make sure that the cheese was melted by the time the bread was toasted.
At Cheeseboy he uses panini presses.
“I’m somewhat obsessed with cheese in general,” said Inwald, a native of Queens, N.Y., recalling a childhood birthday dinner he celebrated at Artisanal, a cheese palace in Manhattan. But he didn’t want to open just a single cute little sandwich shack.
“The goal was not to open a mom-and-pop grilled cheese shop, but to open a fully operational grilled cheese system.”
He started by testing the market, first asking people where they got their grilled cheese sandwiches. He tallied the results of more than 300 people and found that most people got them at diners or off of kids’ menus in restaurants.
His next step was investing $20,000 of his own money for a market test. During the summer of 2009 he opened three “Grilled Cheese to Go” booths at state fairs in Connecticut and had lines around the corner. “The sausage places and the pizza places around us were empty,” Inwald said.
He then found an investor who helped fund the opening of his first restaurant, which he opened at the Connecticut Post Mall in Westfield, Conn., about 20 minutes from Yale, in November of 2009.
In June 2010, he opened a Grilled Cheese to Go headquarters in Boston and hired industry veterans Bob Brickles, an operations, training and franchising executive with experience at McDonald’s, Boston Market and Dunkin’ Brands, as well as Fernando Anael, a former director of training for Panera Bread, to handle operations.
BTW, why was this firm born at Yale and not the University of Wisconsin?