WILMINGTON — According to CheeseSmith owner Molly Curnyn, it’s always been a goal to operate multiple locations of the famed grilled cheese shop she and her husband, Brendan, own in town.
By the end of August, early September, the two restaurateurs will be one step closer to making the dream reality, as they take over a 1,700-square-foot space in Landfall Center. The former home to Rise Biscuits and Donuts, which shuttered in fall 2019, will become the second CheeseSmith serving the greater Wilmington area.
READ MORE: More cheese, please. CheeseSmith officially opens in The Cargo District
CheeseSmith operated as a food truck for three years before moving into its first brick-and-mortar location in The Cargo District in summer 2021. The Curnyns have gone from flipping 100 grilled cheeses a day to roughly 500 daily since.
“It has only seen exponential growth,” Curnyn wrote in an email Tuesday, adding the restaurateurs won’t be stopping at two locations.
They’re already considering a third restaurant in northern Wilmington, possibly in Ogden or Porters Neck, trekking over the bridge to Leland thereafter.
“We’ll also be looking to expand further outside of Wilmington in the future, such as Raleigh, Charlotte, or Asheville in the next few years,” Curnyn said.
The goal is to open one new restaurant a year and evolve into a franchise model.
The Landfall restaurant will seat roughly 75 guests and have an outdoor patio in the front of the eatery.
“After doing a really involved upfit for our first restaurant, we knew for the second spot we wanted to find something that was set up as a restaurant and didn’t need a ton of work besides mainly cosmetic changes,” Curnyn said.
Electrical, plumbing, and HVAC remains in good condition, so renovations shouldn’t take long. The Curnyns plan to hire 15 people to operate CheeseSmith at Landfall.
The vibe between the two eateries will be the same: “clean, modern, industrial, lots of plants,” Curnyn noted. “We’ll aim to do a substantial amount of to-go business.”
The Landfall location reaches tourists headed to the beach, while also maximizing lunch needs for nearby businesses and retail operations in Mayfaire. Not to mention it reaches residences that continue to grow in the area, such as the Galleria and Centerpoint.
Curnyn said the Military Cutoff location’s menu will be similar to the flagship spot, though customers can expect some surprises.
“We will definitely be adding a few items that aren’t available at Cargo District to differentiate the locations a bit,” Curnyn indicated.
The menu will continue to feature fan-favorites, including the Buffalo Baby (havarti, pulled Buffalo chicken, housemade ranch, quick-pickled carrot and celery slaw) and the Southern Charm (cheddar, hickory-smoked pulled pork, pickled red onion and coleslaw).
CheeseSmith also has daily specials, such as various wraps and breakfast burritos. A recent concoction featured Cheerwine-braised barbacoa beef, with housemade queso, pineapple salsa, and guacamole, stuffed with fries.
Another included a maple-bacon donut grilled cheese, stuffed with pimento, American and Muenster cheeses, with bacon, grilled between two Krispy Kreme donuts.
The restaurant’s French fries have also become a staple — loaded or Parmesan-dusted — and desserts, like salted-caramel banana pudding and Key lime pie, change accordingly.
As the Curnyns aim to open the second brick-and-mortar, they have paused launching a soft-serve ice cream shop next door to its Cargo District restaurant. They announced at the end of last summer plans to bring Molly’s Soft Serve to fruition, a concept that moves the nostalgic swirl cones beyond mere chocolate and vanilla and into adult flavors, like lavender-honey or matcha, topped with eccentric toppings — potato sticks, miso caramel sauce, or crushed Captain Crunch.
CATCH UP: Cargo District business gets into the soft-serve game
“We’re most likely going to push the opening until next summer,” Curnyn detailed.
They learned about the new space near the beach as renovations were set to begin on the ice cream business.
“The Landfall location wasn’t something we could pass up,” she said. “It’s the exact area we were hoping for.”
ChesseSmith will be located at 1319 Military Cutoff Road, Suite MM.
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