The Cheesie’s Story

Cheesie’s was established in 2011 by CEO and Founder Chris Johnston. While working throughout many different industries; the bar and restaurant world is where he felt at home. With 14 years of experience under his belt, the drive to not be held down by the man, as well of the consumption of close to 100 million grilled cheese sandwiches in his life, the idea came to him and felt like he was hit with a brick of Cheddar.

It all started with lunch with a good friend one day. They were craving a grilled cheese, but there wasn’t anywhere close to go. Chris’s friend mentioned that she wished there was a place that sold just grilled cheese. That night he went home and wrote the menu, the business plan, devoured a grilled cheese, and within 3 weeks quit his job. The menu was inspired by his terrible eating habits and love for foods he grew up on: mac-n-cheese, chicken tenders, French fries, and grilled cheese. He thought to himself “there are a million pizza places in the world and they are loved because of the cheese, dough and ingredients.”

That night he spoke with his former boss and good friend over some adult beverages and was told if he was serious about the idea he would help him find a location and suggested one he looked at 3 years prior but would check to see if it would be on the market again. The next day with a stroke of incredible luck the owner of the location reached out first to his friend and asked him if he would be interested in purchasing his Mexican restaurant in Lakeview called La Tradición (there is still a sandwich on the menu to pay homage!).

Without hesitation, Sean called Chris and told him the crazy news and offered him an opportunity to cut a deal first. With no money but good credit he opened as many cards as he could, emptied his 401k, lent money from his brother and a friend, crossed his fingers and cut deals with the owner and his landlords. Received the keys to the restaurant April 19th and remodeled the place with his close friends and opened the doors on May 8th with not a penny remaining but $151 spread across 7 different credit cards. The Cheesie’s empire began. 9 months later they shut down to double in size. 5 months later they established the Evanston Location and 5 months after the opening the food truck was purchased. With 3 locations and a food truck within 5 years, Cheesie’s remains family-owned and operated.

Chris has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant world from busboy to GM throughout the years. Chris’s creative mind is what brought forth not just Cheesie’s but Whiskey Business located in Wicker Park, and Slice of Cheesie’s as well.

With his love for the service industry, you will always see him walking around with a smile on his face looking to make everyone’s day just a little bit better either through the food itself or a warm hello!


CEO & Founder (The Big Cheese)

Tony joined the team in 2015 originally in an accounting role however he quickly adapted to a growing company taking on more and more responsibility while continuing to educate himself within the industry. As he grew so did his role and now is the backbone of the company that keeps it moving forward.

As a man that wears many hats still to this day his main focus is to set the company up for future growth especially within the world of Whiskey Business!



David has been around since day 1. Not only did he help fund the company to start he also took on the role of heading up the food truck. Now with 2 food trucks on the road David helps spread the cheese all over Chicago and the suburbs.

David is an entrepreneur working on many different business ventures however operating the food trucks is his bread & butter. You can find him on 1 of the trucks basically daily so make sure to say hello!



Pam has been a part of the family long before the creation of Cheesie’s however when needed she quickly stepped into the role of not only running the social media but also handles all the bookings for the food trucks.

She keeps busy making sure everything is fun and operating smoothly.