Michael Inwald, founder of Cheeseboy: Grilled Cheese To Go, stood in the food court of the South Shore Plaza in front of the third of his recently opened stores, handing out flyers, smiling at customers, and talking about his newfound passion: grilled cheese.
Inwald has been at this for a little over a year and a half. The South Shore Plaza site is one of five to ten stores to open this year, and Inwald doesn’t plan on stopping there.
“[These new stores] are already in motion,” he said. “It’s moving very fast, and the goal is that next year, we can start franchising. We’re looking to expand rapidly.''
For Inwald, a 2003 graduate from Cornell University, the business grew out of his love for the food.
“One of my side passions is food, and I’m particularly obsessed with cheese. I love cheese and I’ve worked on a grilled cheese sandwich for years and years, just because I liked making them for myself,” Inwald said. “I like finding the best bread, the best cook procedures, the best cheeses, so eventually my friends and family suggested why not doing something with grilled cheese – selling it out of a cart, or out of a truck, and I thought, that’s a good idea, but why not out of a mall? Or train station? Or out of an airport.”
The idea has blossomed from there. After running a test store at country fairs in New York and eventually finding an investor, Inwald took time off from his studies at Yale Marketing and Business School to start the company.
The first store opened in Milford, Conn., soon followed by a location in the South Station Train Concourse in Boston.
And now, it’s in Braintree.
“If you’re looking for quick service grilled cheese, you’re looking at Cheeseboy,” Inwald said.
The business isn’t just about the art of making grilled cheese, though. For Inwald, it’s also about giving back.
Every time a store is opened, Cheeseboy dedicates 100 percent of the profits for one day to the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, year-round camps dedicated to children with chronic or life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, hemophilia, AIDS, or sickle-cell disease.
The donation box in place of a tip jar is also another telling sign of Inwald’s dedication to the organization, which he said changed his life perspective.
“You treat hemophilia, you treat cancer… but no one thinks about treating the psyche,” something that Hole in the Wall is able to do, Inwald said. “We create a protected environment for these kids, where for a week, their illness doesn’t exist.”
Inwald got involved with the organization three years ago, after his sister had been telling him about it for years.
For the Braintree location, April 9 was donation day, and Inwald hopes to add to the $10,000 already donated from his company to the organization.
And although his company is still fairly new, to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month – occurring all through April – Cheeseboy will give away free grilled cheeses on April 17 from 1 to 4 p.m.
“As we grow and celebrate National Grilled Cheese month, more people will become aware of it,” Inwald said. “It’s giving back to our customers, its generating awareness about our product and brand, and it’s a time for the entire Cheeseboy family to have fun.”