Tom+Chee Shark Tank Update: From Pitch to Franchise Empire

When Tom+Chee plunged into the “Shark Tank” waters, they weren’t just pitching a business; they were offering a taste of comfort with their gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup. Their appearance was more than just memorable—it was a turning point that left many viewers and potential investors hungry for more. But what’s happened since that pivotal moment?

Fast forward from their splash on the show, and it’s clear Tom+Chee has been on a journey filled with ups and downs. They’ve navigated the choppy waters of the fast-casual dining scene with the tenacity of seasoned sailors. In this update, we’ll dive into where they are now, how they’ve grown, and what challenges they’ve faced since making a deal with the Sharks.

Key Takeaways

  • Tom+Chee successfully pitched their innovative comfort food concept on “Shark Tank,” securing a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner for $600,000, which marked a significant turning point for their business.
  • The brand has witnessed remarkable growth post-“Shark Tank,” expanding to over 35 locations and continuously innovating their menu, proving the universal appeal of their gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup.
  • Despite their success, Tom+Chee faced challenges related to rapid expansion, maintaining consistency across franchises, navigating a saturated market, and managing operational costs, all of which tested the brand’s resilience and adaptability.
  • Their journey underscores the importance of strategic partnerships, passion, and perseverance in overcoming obstacles and achieving sustained growth in the competitive fast-casual dining sector.

The Pitch on Shark Tank

When Tom+Chee stepped onto the Shark Tank stage, they were seeking an investment to expand their innovative grilled cheese and tomato soup shop. Their pitch was both unique and mouth-watering, capturing the attention of the Sharks and the audience alike.

Tom+Chee founders presented their business model with enthusiasm, highlighting their already successful locations and ambitious growth plans. They asked for $600,000 in exchange for a stake in their company, confident in the value of their brand and its scalability. The Sharks showed immediate interest, intrigued by the concept of elevating a classic comfort food into a fast-casual dining experience.

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A lively negotiation ensued. Each Shark weighed the potential of Tom+Chee, considering the risks and rewards of investing in the fast-casual sector. The atmosphere was tense, but also filled with moments of laughter and camaraderie, typical of the show’s dynamic interactions.

Here’s how the figures broke down during the negotiation:

Shark Offer Decision
Mark Cuban $300,000 for 30% Counter-offer made
Barbara Corcoran $600,000 for 50% Declined
Kevin O’Leary $600,000 loan at 18% interest Declined
Daymond John Did not make an offer N/A
Lori Greiner Joined offer with Mark Cuban Accepted by Tom+Chee

Ultimately, Tom+Chee struck a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, a partnership that promised not just financial investment but also invaluable business acumen and mentoring. This pivotal moment marked a new chapter for Tom+Chee, setting the stage for their expansion and tackling the challenges that lay ahead in the fast-casual dining sector.

Who are Tom+Chee?

Tom+Chee stands as a testament to the power of simple yet innovative ideas in the fast-casual dining sector. Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush started with a humble tent at an ice-skating rink in Cincinnati, serving up their unique twist on the classic American comfort food combo: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Their passion and creativity quickly turned Tom+Chee into a local favorite, catching the eye of not just the locals but eventually the Sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank”.

At the heart of Tom+Chee’s popularity is their dedication to high-quality ingredients and inventive flavor combinations. They’ve taken the grilled cheese sandwich to new heights with offerings like the “Barbarque Bacon”, a tantalizing mix of cheese, bacon, and barbecue potato chips, and the famous “Grilled Cheese Donut”, a sweet and savory sensation that has gained them national attention. Meanwhile, their creamy, rich tomato soups serve as the perfect complement, providing warmth and comfort with every bite.

Their appearance on “Shark Tank” was not just memorable but also transformative. Pitching their business model with undeniable enthusiasm, Ward and Quackenbush sought to expand their vision beyond Cincinnati and bring their unique take on comfort food to a broader audience. After a lively negotiation, they struck a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, promising a new chapter of growth and exciting challenges ahead.

As Tom+Chee continues on its journey, its founders’ commitment to quality, innovation, and a pinch of fun remains at the core of their business. Now with several locations across different states, they’ve proven that a simple idea, when executed with passion and creativity, can leave a lasting mark on the food industry.

The Shark Tank Deal

When Tom+Chee took the stage on “Shark Tank,” they not only brought their mouth-watering grilled cheese and tomato soup but also a vision that captivated the Sharks and the audience alike. Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush sought a whopping $600,000 investment in exchange for a stake in their burgeoning company. They pitched with undeniable passion, illustrating not just a business but a dream poised for exponential growth.

The negotiation was a rollercoaster, showcasing the savvy and determination of both the entrepreneurs and the Sharks. It was Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner who eventually saw the immense potential in Tom+Chee, striking a deal that would become a pivotal moment for the company. The investment was significant, not just in financial terms but also in the confidence it instilled in the founders and their concept.

Sharks Involved Investment Stake Agreed Upon
Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner $600,000 Not publicly disclosed

This deal was more than monetary gain; it was a vote of confidence from some of the most astute minds in the business world. It also provided Tom+Chee the essential resources for expansion, propelling them into new markets and opportunities.

What’s particularly striking about Tom+Chee’s Shark Tank appearance is the immediate impact it had. The buzz from the show not only drew customers in droves but also opened doors to new locations and ventures. The founders’ dedication to quality and innovation resonated well with the Sharks and the audience, setting a solid foundation for their post-Shark Tank journey.

As they continue forward, Tom+Chee’s deal on Shark Tank remains a defining moment, showcasing the power of passion, quality, and a standout idea in the fiercely competitive culinary world.

Post-Shark Tank Successes

After their memorable pitch on Shark Tank, Tom+Chee experienced a rapid trajectory of growth and innovation that captured the attention of both the fast-casual dining market and Shark Tank enthusiasts. They leveraged their Shark partnership to full effect, harnessing the expertise and networks of Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner. It’s thrilling to witness how startups transform post-Shark Tank, and Tom+Chee are poster children for leveraging a Shark Tank appearance into tangible success.

In the immediate years following their appearance, Tom+Chee expanded their footprint significantly. They opened numerous locations, bringing their total to over 35 across various states. This expansion was not just a testament to their growth but also to the universal appeal of their comfort food concept. The brand’s dedication to quality and innovation remained a constant, with new menu items complementing their signature grilled cheese and tomato soup offerings.

The visibility from Shark Tank propelled Tom+Chee into the national spotlight, bringing in a surge of customers eager to experience what had intrigued the Sharks. This increase in patronage drove revenue growth, allowing for further expansion and experimentation with menu and concept.

Notably, Tom+Chee didn’t rest on their laurels. They continuously sought ways to innovate and improve, whether through menu development or exploring new market opportunities. Their story is a vivid illustration of how strategic partnerships, combined with a relentless pursuit of excellence, can catalyze growth in the competitive restaurant industry.

Year Significant Achievements
Post-Shark Tank Expansion to over 35 locations
Ongoing Continuous menu innovation and growth

As Tom+Chee navigates the challenges of the fast-casual marketplace, their journey from a Shark Tank pitch to a burgeoning franchise empire offers valuable insights into the power of strategic investment and the enduring appeal of comfort food. Their success serves as an inspiration for entrepreneurs and Shark Tank aficionados alike, proving that with the right mix of passion, partnership, and perseverance, the possibilities are endless.

Post-Shark Tank Challenges

Despite the surge of success following their appearance on “Shark Tank,” Tom+Chee faced their fair share of trials in the fast-paced world of fast-casual dining. The same visibility that fueled their rapid expansion also brought with it high expectations and challenges that tested the resilience of the brand and its founders.

One major hurdle was managing rapid growth. As Tom+Chee expanded to over 35 locations, the brand struggled with ensuring consistency across franchises. Maintaining the quality of food and service that fans had come to love became increasingly difficult as each new location aimed to replicate the original charm and deliciousness of Tom+Chee’s offerings.

Another significant challenge was navigating market saturation. The fast-casual dining scene is fiercely competitive, with many players vying for the attention and loyalty of the same demographic. Standing out in a crowded market required constant innovation and marketing savvy. Tom+Chee had to continuously work on distinguishing their brand and offerings in ways that resonated with their target audience.

Lastly, economic pressures also played a role in shaping Tom+Chee’s journey post-“Shark Tank.” Operational costs, including ingredients, labor, and rent, impacted profitability. Balancing the costs with the desire to keep menu prices affordable was a delicate dance that required careful strategy and sometimes, hard decisions.

Despite these hurdles, Tom+Chee’s founders remained committed to their vision, drawing upon the strengths of their partnership with the Sharks to navigate these choppy waters. Their story exemplifies the reality that even the most promising ventures face obstacles but with resilience and strategic thinking, challenges can be transformed into opportunities for growth and learning.


Tom+Chee’s journey from a small grilled cheese and tomato soup shop to a national franchise is a testament to the power of passion and strategic partnerships. Their appearance on Shark Tank not only secured them a deal that catalyzed growth but also showcased the importance of innovation and quality in the culinary world. Despite facing challenges inherent in the fast-casual dining industry, they’ve managed to navigate these waters with resilience and a commitment to their vision. Their story is not just about the success of a food franchise but a reminder of how strategic investments can transform a simple idea into a thriving business. It’s clear that the road ahead for Tom+Chee holds both challenges and opportunities, but with their proven track record of overcoming obstacles, they’re well-equipped to continue their journey of growth and innovation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What did Tom+Chee pitch on Shark Tank?

Tom+Chee pitched their business idea of expanding their grilled cheese and tomato soup shop on “Shark Tank”, seeking $600,000 in exchange for a stake in their company.

Who invested in Tom+Chee on Shark Tank?

Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner struck a deal with Tom+Chee, marking a significant chapter for the company’s expansion and development in the fast-casual dining sector.

How did Tom+Chee benefit from their Shark Tank appearance?

Their appearance on Shark Tank drew in more customers and opened doors to new locations and ventures. It also instilled confidence in the founders and their concept.

How many locations did Tom+Chee expand to after Shark Tank?

Post-Shark Tank, Tom+Chee expanded their footprint to over 35 locations across various states, leveraging the visibility and partnership gained from the show.

What challenges did Tom+Chee face in the fast-casual dining industry?

Tom+Chee faced challenges such as managing rapid growth, maintaining consistency across franchises, navigating market saturation, and dealing with economic pressures like operational costs.

How did Tom+Chee overcome these challenges?

Despite the hurdles, Tom+Chee’s founders remained committed to their vision, using their partnership with the Sharks to strategically navigate obstacles and turn challenges into opportunities for growth and learning.