The man who co-founded the company behind the popular Flip Video camcorder has embarked on a totally new and cheesy venture. Jonathan Kaplan is bringing his techno-nerd expertise to the restaurant business, aiming to build a better grilled cheese sandwich.
Kaplan calls his creation “The Melt” and he just opened his first location in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood last month. He has plans to open two more in the Bay Area by Thanksgiving and hopes to have 25 or more franchise locations open in the next year. His ambitious five-year plan plots to have a chain of about 500 of the restaurants operating nationwide.
People are hungry for comfort food in these lean economic times, Kaplan says, and a good grilled cheese sandwich will fill that craving.
Kaplan worked with chef and restaurateur Michael Mina and a handful of other advisors, and with home appliance maker Electrolux, who built him a unique machine that that includes two induction burners, a microwave, and non-stick pads, which enables the bread to toast while the cheese melts—but won’t squish the sandwich.
Customers can place their orders via smart phone using The Melt’s website. Users receive a QR code that, once scanned, allows the restaurant to begin processing the order in short order.
Hmmm, a national chain of restaurants focused around the ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwich…it could work. Pair it with a nice tomato soup, and offer a generous selection of cheeses and bread options…yeah, we’re warming up to this idea—especially as the weather starts to cool down.
It will be fun to keep an eye on this one, and see if Kaplan’s vision of 500 restaurants by 2016 comes true.
Photo of Jonathan Kaplan by Noah Berger for The New York Times.