Tom & Chee Shark Tank Update | Tom & Chee Net Worth

Tom & Chee, short for Tomato and Cheese, is a gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup shop that gained considerable fame after appearing on Season 4 of Shark Tank in 2013. 

Tom & Chee, founded by Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward in 2009, was a small food tent in Cincinnati, Ohio, serving innovative grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh, homemade tomato soup.

The unique concept of the restaurant is its primary attraction. It offers various grilled cheese sandwiches, incorporating many different ingredients and flavors. Their selection is wider than just your standard cheese and bread. 

They have options like the “Hippy Chee,” with hummus, cucumber, mixed greens, tomato, and cheddar on whole grain wheat, or the “Flying Pig,” which features turkey, bacon, pickle, smoked gouda on rye. 

The menu includes various soup choices, salads, and even grilled cheese doughnuts for dessert. This creative approach to a beloved classic food makes it appealing to many customers, from children to adults.

The co-founders, Quackenbush and Ward, have consistently emphasized the quality of their ingredients and their commitment to making fresh, affordable, and innovative meals. This attention to detail extends to their food and customer service, where they strive to create a welcoming and relaxed dining atmosphere.

Tom & Chee is a good choice due to their novel approach to timeless comfort food. Their sandwiches cater to various tastes and dietary needs, with options for vegetarians, gluten-free, and vegan customers, in addition to their standard offerings. 

The restaurant’s fresh ingredients, diverse menu, and dedicated approach to customer service have made it a popular and growing choice in the fast-casual dining sector. 

Their appearance on Shark Tank catapulted the brand’s popularity. It enabled it to expand into numerous locations across the U.S. The founders continue to innovate and expand their menu, making Tom & Chee a dynamic player in the restaurant industry.

Company NameTom & Chee
EntrepreneurTrew Quackenbush and Corey Ward
ProductRestaurant serving gourmet food
Investment Asking For$600,000 for 10% equity in Tom & Chee
Final Deal$600,000 for 30% equity in Tom & Chee and New York and Texas States
SharkMark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran
Tom & Chee’s Episode Season 4, Episode 24
Tom & Chee’s Business StatusAcquired, In Business
Tom & Chee’s WebsiteVisit Website

What Is Tom & Chee?

Tom & Chee is a grilled cheese and soup concept restaurant founded in Cincinnati.  The restaurant’s unique selling point is its creative spin on classic grilled cheese sandwiches. They use high-quality cheeses, artisan bread, and a variety of delicious add-ins to take the traditional sandwich to new heights.

In addition to their grilled cheese offerings, Tom & Chee also serve a range of soups, salads, and sides. Their menu caters to both meat-eaters and vegetarians, with options like the BBQ bacon grilled cheese and the veggie chili.

Tom & Chee has expanded rapidly since its founding, with locations now across the United States. Despite their success, they stay true to their roots by innovating new and exciting grilled cheese and soup takes.

In addition to their signature grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Tom & Chee also offer a variety of other menu items. 

This includes various soups, such as broccoli cheddar and chicken noodle, as well as fresh and tasty salads, like the apple walnut salad and the Caesar salad. They also have a great selection of sides, including mac and cheese bites, tater tots, and sweet potato fries.

Tom & Chee Shark Tank Update

Regardless of dietary preferences, Tom & Chee have something for everyone. The BBQ bacon grilled cheese is always a popular choice for those who enjoy meat. Vegetarians can indulge in the veggie chili with fresh vegetables and hearty beans.

Despite their rapid expansion, Tom & Chee remains committed to creating exciting and innovative dishes. They constantly experiment with new ingredients and flavor combinations, ensuring customers always have something new and delicious.

Today, there are 12 Tom & Chee restaurants in seven states. The brand is undergoing a makeover with a smaller footprint, updated branding, and new menu items. The new prototype stores will be about 1400 to 1800 square feet with just 25 to 35 seats, down from 60 to 75. 

The redesigned prototype will also include an off-premise pickup area and redesigned workstations for to-go and catering orders. The menu has been refined to focus on 10 melt sandwiches and a smaller selection of build-your-own ingredients. 

The chain has built upon its popular grilled cheese doughnut line and is moving away from messaging focused on grilled cheese sandwiches to one that highlights melts and connotes a more-upscale experience. 

Who Is the Founder Of Tom & Chee?

Tom & Chee was co-founded by Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward in 2009. Both have rich backgrounds that lent them the inspiration and skills to create this unique restaurant concept.

Trew Quackenbush, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a culinary professional with a diverse background in the food industry. He studied at the New England Culinary Institute, where he developed a deep understanding of food and the restaurant business. 

His experience ranges from high-end establishments to neighborhood diners, giving him a broad perspective on diverse dining experiences and customer tastes.

Corey Ward, on the other hand, comes from a marketing and graphic design background. His skills in these areas have played a crucial role in shaping the branding and promotional strategies for Tom & Chee. 

Ward also had an intense passion for food, which has been instrumental in creating and evolving the restaurant’s unique and eclectic menu.

The pair conceived the idea of Tom & Chee during the winter of 2009 when they observed how people in Cincinnati loved tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches during the cold weather. 

Seeing this as a staple comfort food, they saw an opportunity to elevate this classic combination with a gourmet twist. Starting as a small food tent serving fresh tomato soup and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, they quickly gained local popularity.

The founders’ shared dedication to quality, creativity, and customer satisfaction, along with their complementary skills in the culinary arts and marketing, have been key factors in the success of Tom & Chee. 

Their innovative approach to a beloved classic has resonated with a broad demographic, resulting in the growth of the business from a humble food tent into a national restaurant chain.

Tom & Chee Before Appearing on Shark Tank

Before appearing on Shark Tank, Tom & Chee founders Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward had already built a respectable business. The duo started the company as a humble food tent in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2009. 

They set up shop near an outdoor ice rink, serving freshly made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup to cold and hungry ice skaters. The idea was simple: provide comfort food that was affordable, quick, and satisfying.

They quickly became known for their unique and innovative menu offerings, such as the grilled cheese donut. They built loyal customer loyalty by focusing on quality ingredients and serving various dishes that catered to different tastes and dietary requirements. The business grew when word spread about the creative takes on classic comfort food.

The duo’s dedication and hard work led to the opening their first brick-and-mortar store in Cincinnati. Tom & Chee had grown from their initial food tent to multiple Ohio and Kentucky restaurant locations when they appeared on Shark Tank in 2013.

The pair had also begun franchising their concept, further expanding their reach. Quackenbush and Ward were already successful to some extent, but they recognized the potential of Shark Tank. 

They hoped to secure an investment that would enable them to scale their business more quickly and efficiently, spreading their unique take on grilled cheese and tomato soup to more people nationwide. 

Their appearance on the show would be a turning point for Tom & Chee, bringing their brand to a national audience and accelerating their growth.

How Was the Shark Tank Pitch of Tom & Chee?

When Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward, the founders of Tom & Chee, appeared on Shark Tank in Season 4, they brought a sense of passion, charisma, and a clear vision for their business.

The pitch began with the duo introducing themselves and their company. They explained the concept of their unique fast-casual restaurant specializing in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup. 

They highlighted their diverse and innovative menu, particularly their unusual but popular grilled cheese doughnut, quickly catching the Sharks’ interest.

Trew and Corey sought an investment of $600,000 in exchange for a 10% equity stake in Tom & Chee, valuing the company at $6 million. They explained that the capital would be used to facilitate the growth of the business, particularly by aiding franchise development across the country.

They shared their success story so far – from starting with a food tent in Cincinnati to establishing three successful stores in Ohio and Kentucky. At the time of their pitch, they had achieved sales of over $1 million for the year and were on track to double that amount, demonstrating the profitability and potential scalability of their business.

The Sharks were impressed with the founders’ dedication, unique concept, and the evident success of the business. All five Sharks were interested in making a deal, a relatively rare occurrence on the show. 

After some negotiation, Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran agreed to offer $600,000 for a 30% stake, contingent on Tom & Chee proving their franchise model. 

This was more equity than the founders originally wanted to give up, but they saw the value in gaining two experienced partners and accepted the deal.

Trew and Corey’s presentation on Shark Tank was memorable for their product, passion, and clear commitment to their business. They secured a significant investment and two strong business partners, allowing them to continue growing and developing their brand nationwide.

Tom & Chee After Appearing On Shark Tank

Tom & Chee’s appearance on Shark Tank proved a significant turning point for the business. The publicity from the show and the investment from Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran helped to propel the brand into a period of rapid expansion.

After their successful pitch, the number of Tom & Chee franchises increased substantially. The investment and mentorship from Cuban and Corcoran helped them to streamline their franchising process and rapidly scale their business. At its peak, Tom & Chee had over 50 locations across 20 states. 

Tom & Chee Shark Tank Update

Beyond the direct investment, the exposure from Shark Tank also significantly boosted the brand’s visibility. The nationwide audience learned about their unique menu items, like the grilled cheese doughnut, leading to increased interest and demand. 

However, the rapid expansion also led to some challenges. The company faced issues with some franchise locations needing help, a common challenge for fast-growing franchisors. 

In 2017, the company was sold to Gold Star Chili, a Cincinnati-based chili company, in a bankruptcy deal, and several locations were closed. Under the new management, the focus shifted to stabilizing the business and ensuring sustainable growth.

Despite the bumps along the road, Tom & Chee continues to be a significant player in the fast-casual dining sector, and it continues to draw a following for its innovative approach to the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Tom & Chee Shark Tank Update

Tom & Chee is a grilled cheese restaurant chain that appeared on Shark Tank in 2013. The founders, Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward, were seeking $150,000 in exchange for 10% equity in the company. They made a deal with Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran for $150,000 in exchange for 25% equity in Tom & Chee.

After appearing on Shark Tank, Tom & Chee experienced a surge in popularity. The company opened several new locations and expanded its menu. However, the company’s growth could have been more sustainable. In 2017, Tom & Chee was acquired by GSR Brands, a franchise development company.

Under GSR Brands, Tom & Chee has undergone several changes. The company has closed several underperforming locations and rebranded itself. The menu has also been simplified.

As of 2023, Tom & Chee has 12 locations in seven states. The company is still privately held, and its financial performance is not publicly available.

Here is a summary of what happened to Tom & Chee after appearing on Shark Tank:

  • The company experienced a surge in popularity after appearing on the show.
  • The company expanded its menu and opened several new locations.
  • The company’s growth could have been more sustainable, and it was acquired by GSR Brands in 2017.
  • Under GSR Brands, the company has undergone several changes, including closing underperforming locations, rebranding, and simplifying the menu.
  • As of 2023, Tom & Chee has 12 locations in seven states.

Is Tom & Chee Still In Business?

Yes, Tom & Chee is still in business. As of 2023, there are 12 locations in 7 states: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. The company is owned by GSR Brands, which also owns Gold Star Chili and Skyline Chili.

In 2017, Tom & Chee was acquired by GSR Brands for $10 million. The company has since undergone a rebranding and restructuring effort. In 2021, GSR Brands announced its plans to open 100 new Tom & Chee locations over the next five years.

Tom & Chee is known for its grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. The company also offers a variety of other menu items, including melts, salads, and sides.

What Is the Net Worth Of Tom & Chee?

The valuation of Tom & Chee was $6 million when it appeared on Shark Tank. The net worth of Tom & Chee is not publicly available information. However, we can make some estimates based on the company’s financial performance.

In 2017, Tom & Chee had $47 million in sales and 31 franchises across 15 states. The company was acquired by Gold Star Chili in 2017 for an undisclosed amount.

Assuming that Tom & Chee was profitable at the time of the acquisition, we can estimate that the company’s net worth was at least $20 million.

However, it is possible that the company was not profitable at the time of the acquisition, in which case the net worth would be lower.

Here are some of the factors that could affect Tom & Chee’s net worth:

  • Sales: Tom & Chee’s sales have grown steadily in recent years. In 2017, the company had $47 million in sales. The company’s net worth will likely increase if sales continue to grow.
  • Franchises: Tom & Chee has 31 franchises across 15 states. The company is planning to expand its franchise network in the coming years. If the company successfully expands its franchise network, its net worth will likely increase.
  • Competition: Tom & Chee competes with grilled cheese restaurants like The Melt and Grilled Cheese Social. Tom & Chee’s sales and net worth could decline if the competition intensifies.
  • Economic conditions: The overall economic conditions can also affect Tom & Chee’s net worth. Tom & Chee’s sales and net worth could decline if the economy enters a recession.

Overall, the net worth of Tom & Chee is likely to be in the $20-30 million range. However, the company’s net worth could be higher or lower depending on many factors, such as sales, franchises, competition, and economic conditions.

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