Grilled cheese restaurant to open at Quail Springs Marketplace

By Molly M Fleming

The Journal Record


OKLAHOMA CITY – The city is getting another food restaurant with a television show connection.

Tom + Chee grilled cheese and soup restaurant made national fame in 2009 when founders Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush appeared on Shark Tank. Investor Barbara Corcoran made a deal with them to help take their grilled cheese and tomato-soup tent into a brick-and-mortar store.

Tom + Chee is now owned by Gold Star Chili. The company is selling franchises and Oklahoma City-based Khusro Iqbal is the first to bring the concept to Oklahoma. He is building two stores in northwest Oklahoma City.

The first store will open in early 2018 at the Quail Springs Marketplace. The center is at N. Pennsylvania Avenue and E. Memorial Road. It will replace Starbucks, which moved south to a new shopping center on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Iqbal said he likes bringing new concepts to Oklahoma City. He said he saw the Shark Tank episode that featured Tom + Chee, so he was familiar with the concept.

Once he tried Tom + Chee’s food in Dallas, he said he knew he wanted to be part of it.

“I really fell in love with it,” he said. “I had no idea you could do so many things with grilled cheese sandwiches.”

CBRE retail broker Kendra Roberts worked with Iqbal to find a location. Iqbal said the company is particular about locations.

Roberts said she looked at shopping centers across the Oklahoma City market. But Quail Springs Marketplace had several attractive features, such as being in northwest Oklahoma City, close to Edmond, and nearly next to the Chisholm Creek retail development.

She said Tom + Chee likes to be near areas where there are mothers with children. The former Starbucks site also offers good street accessibility and pile-on signage.

“Since it’s the first concept, it has to create brand awareness, and this is the best place to do that,” she said.

She said this won’t be the last one-type food concept coming to the market. The fast-casual food concept trends are becoming heavy with one-type foods.

“National concepts are getting new ideas,” she said.

Iqbal said Tom + Chee leaders think the entire Oklahoma City metro can support four restaurants. But the market is divided at the Oklahoma River, so he has to stay north of the river. Roberts said the second location hasn’t been found yet, but it will be open by 2018’s end.

“If sales go high, then maybe we’ll look at doing more,” Iqbal said.

The other restaurant concept with a television connection coming to the city is Metro Diner. It was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It’s opening in the spring at the Shoppes at Quail Springs.