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Butler County getting largest Tom + Chee yet

August 29, 2014  |  Tom + Chee
Tom + Chee

Journal News


The latest and largest Tom + Chee location is set to open in Butler County later this year.

Construction on the 3,200-square-foot fast-casual restaurant at 9328 Union Centre Blvd. is slated to start next week, according to Troy Harden, franchisee for Tom + Chee restaurants outside the Interstate 275 loop.

The location should open by mid-November and employ 60 people, Harden said.

The West Chester Twp. eatery will serve Tom + Chee’s grilled cheese and tomato soup but will be the first in the chain to serve alcohol, specifically craft wine and and craft beer, most of it from local breweries, he said.

Harden tapped Butler County as the location for his first franchise because West Chester Twp. is “a great community.”

“It’s got everything there,” he said. “There are so many businesses, hotels, families. It’s just a really neat location. I’m from Union, Ky., and it reminds me a lot about that.”

Tom + Chee founders Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward have “found a niche that really hasn’t been touched on in the restaurant industry.”

“I think it’s a great product for the Midwest,” Harden said, noting the chain’s preference to use healthy ingredients in its products. “It’s great for families and for a quick lunch. We take something that tastes good and make it pretty good for you, too.”

Harden’s first restaurant franchise is hardly his first foray into the restaurant business. He’s a nearly 30-year veteran of the industry who started off Bar Louie in Chicago, owned his own steak-and-seafood restaurant in that city’s southwest suburb and most recently served for six years in upper management at Hofbrauhaus Newport.

Harden is investing between $250,000 and $300,000 in the new location, which will resemble Chipotle in layout, feature a children’s area and add a patio out front.

“I’ve just heard some great things about Ohio as far as doing business in the state itself, and I’m pretty excited to get up there,” Harden said.

While most deals in the area typically range between three and five years, Harden signed a seven-year deal for the U.S. Bank Centre property because the project combines the former sites of Sprint and A Cherry on Top frozen yogurt, according to retail specialist Pamela Miller-Shrout of North Ridge Realty Group, who represented Harden in the deal.

“This is going to be particularly large for a Tom + Chee,” she said. “If you’ve been to the ones downtown (Cincinnati), they’re very small considering they came from a tent on Fountain Square to where they are today; it’s pretty crazy.”

Harden said he plans to open eight locations outside the I-275 loop, including a Florence, Ky., location, where he has a letter of intent. He’s also considering locations in Liberty Twp. and Mason, plus others as far north as Oxford, as far east as Eastgate and as far south as Union.

“It’s got to be an approved area for Tom + Chee corporate,” Miller-Shrout said.

Cincinnati-based Tom + Chee has 13 locations in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Georgia and New Jersey. Six additional locations are coming soon to Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Georgia, according to the company.