The Melt: Meet Jonathan Kaplan's Futuristic Grilled Cheese Chain

The Melt combo 1.jpg
The Melt's sharp cheddar on potato bread and tomato basil soup.
​Even though we're tired of the "There's an app for that" catchphrase, SFoodie's ears still perked up when we heard about an app that allows us to order grilled cheese sandwiches. What can we say? We write a food blog for a reason.

The person who brings us this magical grilled cheese app/restaurant is Jonathan Kaplan. The founder of the now discontinued Flip cam is getting out of the minicam business and into the restaurant business. But, like most tech bros, he plans to incorporate his love of technology into his next phase. How so? Well, he's opening the first of his fast and casual chain restaurants -- The Melt -- here in San Francisco.

Secondly, this new dining concept features innovations in cooking and speedy ordering. Customers will order and pay in the Melt's app and then head to the actual restaurant, when an employee will scan their phones and hand over the grub. The actual cooking doesn't happen until the phone is scanned, so food is always piping hot. Plus, it only takes a minute to cook. How is that possible? The secret is a custom machine that incorporates the functions of two induction burners, a microwave oven, and silpats to make the perfect grilled cheese in minutes. Crazy!

Kaplan unveiled a live demo of his system yesterday at the annual D9 All Things Digital Conference, where attendees placed online orders and sampled the food. Let us tell you, these were no ordinary grilled cheeses. The menu was developed with help from chef/board member Michael Mina, and you can tell. Custom breads were paired with tasty cheeses and a hefty coating of "Melt Salt," a special Parmesan-based seasoning. Delicious.

Kaplan said prices will be affordable -- $5 for a grilled cheese sandwich and $8 for a soup and sandwich combo. The Bay Area will be the testing ground, with five restaurants set to open between August and November. After a test run here, expect to see stores in Boston, Seattle, Portland, and New York City. Kaplan hopes to eventually have 500 stores. An ambitious plan, to be sure, but if he succeeds, you'll never want for grilled cheese on the go again. And don't worry, if you're living in 2005 or have a Nokia (or both!), you can also order the conventional way.

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14 comments
OhHenry2U
OhHenry2U

I am very interested in opening at least one but maybe two grilled chesse sandwich shops but need information on who to contact and what is involved

Rolfgpfannerer
Rolfgpfannerer

Check out Fancy Melts in LA harbor area if you can--Fancy Fire grilled cheese, along with Pastrami melt, German Weiner Melt,and even a cream cheese & J and PB&J Melt--best bread ever on a panini(multigrain sourdough whole wheat and rye)

Bowers32169
Bowers32169

I think this is a timely idea,and with artisan type breads,what a great concept.The eating habits of the population has changed dramatically.This concept isright on the mark.I do hope that it's not purely vegetarian ,a little bacon withany kind of cheese sounds delicious.

William J.Bowers

Okitigger
Okitigger

Hello who can i become this very good ap named Grilled Cheese

JB
JB

I'm planning to go try it out! What app do I need? I just searched the Apple App Store, found nothing. 

blondebookhagg
blondebookhagg

What a great idea!  I'd like to know when there will be one opened in the Sonoma area.  I'd love to get a job working at The Melt if one does open here in the Sonoma area becuase I love to cook but hate just cooking for myself!

guest
guest

yeah.  not so great of an idea.  Copied from an extraordinary Ohio chain.  Way to capitalize on someone elses innovation

Ryan Nicole Stevens
Ryan Nicole Stevens

nothing will beat the original in Lakewood, Ohio! this is just a cheap knock-off!

EE
EE

I want that here in Sherman Oaks CA!!!!

Brett
Brett

are you going to franchise? 

Hatefastfood
Hatefastfood

American Grilled Cheese is awesome. Not sure if they use a nuking method similar to The Melt, I hope not. Do we really need more radiated fast food, and funded by dot com venture capitalist like Sequoia Captial? LAMENESS. Try the Toasty Melts truck, amazing. 

Guest
Guest

Jonhathon: In Pogue's writeup you mention goat cheese on wheat. I can eat goat cheese but no cow-dairy cheese. Unfortunately, I'm also allergic to wheat, According to the AAAAI, '3 million children under the age of 18 were reported to have a food or digestive allergy" in 2007. Any chance you could offer spelt bread or some other bread (rice, corn or whatever) along with wheat? I'd love to be able to munch at your stores... R.

Eva D Edibles
Eva D Edibles

Go to American Grilled Cheese in South Park, by the ballpark. They have all sorts of fancy grilled cheese, AND they have gluten-free grilled cheese made on their own bread. Their rotating soups are hand made twice a week (I know because I make it) in small batches from organic veggies. They also have house-made sodas and desserts. No need to wait for a "chain" to open!

guest
guest

Sorry I thought American grilled Cheese in South Park is over-priced grilled cheese sandwiches you can make at home.  For $8 I thought the portion would at least be bigger, but it was just two pieces of whole wheat bread with some fancy cheese. I think I can make it at home better. No thanks!

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