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 the idea came to him and felt like he was hit with a brick of Cheddar.
While going to lunch a good friend of his was craving a grilled cheese. With no where close to go, she mentioned 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 Tradicion (which you see there is 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 the established the Evanston Location and 5 months after the opening the food truck was purchased. With 3 locations and a food within 5 years, Cheesie's remains family-owned and operated.