After three years of slaying the grilled cheese sandwich in Oak Cliff, Dallas Grilled Cheese Company is opening a second location, this one at Mockingbird Station. The restaurant will take over the former Smashburger space and will open in early 2018.
Co-owner Mack Simpson says that their strategy on expansion is measured.
"It's always been in the back of our mind to open another location, but we're very conservative with how we approach the business," he says. "We wanted to make sure that our original location and employees were in a good place. But getting this spot was a great opportunity."
Dallas Grilled Cheese opened in the hip Bishop Arts District at 310 W. 7th St. in January 2015, in the very early days of the grilled cheese trend. A number of other grilled cheese restaurants opened in the ensuing year; most have already closed.
But business at Dallas Grilled Cheese has been on the upswing, which Simpson attributes to a focus on quality.
"We make sure that what we put in between two slices of bread is the very best we can find," he says. "We use barbecue from Front Porch and bread from Empire Baking. We're focused on quality and we're also singularly focused; we have no plans to open the random taco joint or an alcohol-only bar. We want to do what we do the best we can."
They also don't limit their perception of what they do as grilled cheese only. "I feel like we're past the trend and are viewed as being a gourmet sandwich shop whose hook is grilled cheese," he says. They also have a separate following in the beer community, thanks to their wide selection of craft brews and a customized tap system that maintains each beer at its own optimum temperature.
Regular specials and quarterly menu updates keep things feeling fresh. They offer an off-menu special every two weeks.
"Last month, we ran a chicken-and-waffles sandwich, where the waffles filled in for the bread, that blew the roof off," he says. Their current special is a "Thanksgiving leftovers" sandwich with turkey. Another popular one featured pimento cheese.
"Not every sandwich blows the doors off the barn, but we only have it running for two weeks at a time," he says. "When we find a good product, we'll work it into a special. We ran a special with barbecue brisket that turned to be such a great seller that it worked its way onto our regular menu."
Mockingbird Station has had turnover and seen its share of closures, but Simpson says the traffic at the center is "massive."
"It's a different sort of traffic than what we see in Oak Cliff," he says. "Bishop Arts is a destination where you stroll around, visit the shops, and get something to eat. I've sat on the patio of Trinity Pub and watched what's happening at Mockingbird Station. It's more of an in-and-out place. You come with a purpose in mind."
Mockingbird Station is also near some of his most enthusiastic customers. "We have a lot of customers from the Park Cities, and this will be a convenient for them," he says.