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Cheesy Street Grill - VisitingNewEngland small business partnership

Cheesy Street Grill Becomes the Head Cheese for Dining Out on the Massachusetts Turnpike

Grilled cheese creations and tomato bisque highlight a creative gourmet menu not typical for highway eateries



Lisa Dowd, owner of Cheesy Street Grill at the Natick and Westborough, Mass. Service Stations
Lisa Dowd, owner of Cheesy Street Grill. Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

Article by Eric Hurwitz, @newenglandinfo. Story created on 10/7/2019.

Let's face it, finding something delicious to eat at highway service plazas isn't exactly like going down Easy Street.

On the Massachusetts Turnpike at the Natick and Westborough Service Plazas, however, dining out on mouthwatering foods is possible by going to Cheesy Street Grill.

The Cheesy Street Grill represents a new paradigm in highway dining by taking a simple culinary concept and taking it to a very high level. Gooey, oversized gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, warming flavorful tomato bisque that captures the essence of homemade and hearty mac and cheese looking like something out of a food magazine highlight an irresistible comfort foods menu. As one of the food stations with an adjacent communal sit-down dining area, visitors consistently populate the Cheesy Street Grill and with good reason.

First-timers see it as an alternative to the typical food court options. Repeated visitors view the Cheesy Street Grill as a food destination. Now when was the last time you heard about a highway food stop being a destination?

As one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" concepts, Cheesy Street Grill proves that the most brilliant ideas can be born out of something simple. Grilled cheese and tomato soup traditionally stand as one of the most happily married grand comfort food unions in America. Cheesy Street Grill owner, Lisa Dowd, thought, "Why not make a business out of that?"

Lisa, a Connecticut native, who worked in corporate insurance for 32 years, decided at age 50 to venture into another career after catching the "cooking bug" while recovering from surgery. Some of her TV cooking show influences: Rachael Ray, Julia Child and Ina Garten.

She could have gone any route when choosing a food business, but Lisa decided on grilled cheese.

"Grilled cheese appeals to all ages," said Lisa, 56. "I always had grilled cheese with tomato soup as a child."

The response to Cheesy Street Grill has been phenomenal with highly rated reviews and crowds lining up for lunch and dinner.

"People come up to us and say, 'This is the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever tasted!'" said Lisa. "It's the quality ingredients and winning flavor combinations, as well as excellent customer service, that draws customers in. We treat them like family."

The Makings of a Grilled Cheese Business

In 2014, Lisa's small business route first led to starting a food truck in Connecticut, catering to "many companies during the week" in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. She was busy, also, catering to farmers markets, country fairs, music festivals, charity events, weddings, birthdays and graduation parties.


Lisa's venture into her new career took on thoughts of expansion while traveling the Mass Turnpike when visiting her son attending college in Boston. Lisa noticed that the service plazas on Route 90 could have used a high-quality comfort foods option. Lisa sold the food truck in 2016 as a means to expand the business. Navigating a sometimes endless highway of "phone calls, meetings and contracts," the Natick Cheesy Street Grill opened on June 15, 2016, and the Westborough location a day later. Lisa recently opened her first business as a franchisor at the Boston Sports Institute in Wellesley, Mass. with a franchisee owner/operator for that location. All locations accept online orders for pickup, so customers can have their food ready when they stop in.

As a relatively new business, Cheesy Street Grill has earned some significant recognition. Much to Lisa's surprise, Rachael Ray featured Cheesy Street Grill on her show about three years ago.  The Boston Chamber of Commerce recognized Cheesy Street Grill as the Up and Coming 2018 Small Business of the Year. Reviewers give Cheesy Street Grill an average of 4.8 stars on Google Reviews
and 4.5 on Yelp, at this writing. And then there was this great review on The Phantom Gourmet!

Wow Factor Grilled Cheese, Tomato Bisque, Mac and Cheese and More

Grilled cheese is hard to screw up, but it's also near-impossible to create the perfect sandwich time after time. Cheesy Street Grill opts for perfection. Lisa and staff use a butter spreader machine to evenly spread the butter. Then it's off to the press. The whole process of making a grilled cheese sandwich takes about two-and-a-half-minutes, thus proving that a chef or cook doesn't have to go through painstaking processes to please the customer.

Many will find the plain grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque most satisfying. The overload of American cheese and perfectly grilled bread, complemented by some made-fresh-daily bisque is filling, addictive and great value for the money...

Grilled cheese and tomato bisque from Cheesy Street Grill at the Route 90 service stations  in Westborough and Natick, Mass.
Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque.
Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

Looking at the menu, however, encourages one to get more ambitious with grilled cheese combinations that you'd be hard-pressed (no pun intended) to find in the Boston to Worcester area. The Get Shorty combines beef short ribs with mac and cheese for a taste that can only be described as incredible...

Get Shorty grilled cheese sandwich with beef short ribs and chipotle mac and cheese from Cheesy Street Grill in Natick and Westborough, Mass.
Get Shorty Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Photo credit: Cheesy Street Grill. Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

The All Star features goat cheese, fig jam and red wine caramelized onions. As the timeless cliche goes, this is to die for...

The All Star grilled cheese sandwich from Cheesy Street Grill in Natick, Westborough and Wellesley, Mass. features goat cheese, fig jam and red wine caramelized onion
All Star grilled cheese sandwich.
Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

The creativity continues with the French Onion grilled cheese sandwich. This sandwich version of the classic soup contains Swiss Cheese and red wine caramelized onions...

French onion grilled cheese sandwich from the Cheesy Street Grill in Westborough, Natick and Wellesley, Mass.
French onion grilled cheese sandwich.

The Great Hambino, a take-off on baseball great Babe's Ruth nickname "The Great Bambino," is a hall of fame upgrade on the typical ham and cheese sandwich (Dijon mustard is added for the perfect flavor combination)...

Grilled cheese and ham with Dijon mustard from the Cheesy Street Grill in Westborough, Natick and Wellesley, Mass.
The Great Hambino.
Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

Cheesy Street Grill also makes a phenomenal mac and cheese (chipotle bread crumbs optional) with the following add-ons available: tomato, pesto, balsamic reduction, jalapenos,  pickles, banana peppers, red wine caramelized onions, guacamole, bacon, mushroom, roasted red peppers, beef short ribs, chicken and tuna.

Hiomemade mac and cheese with chipotle bread crumbs from Cheesy Street Grill in Natick, Westborough and Wellesley, Mass.
Mac and cheese with chipotle bread crumbs.
Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

Cheesy Street Grill isn't just about grilled cheese sandwiches,tomato bisque and mac and cheese, however. The Natick location offers Caesar and fruit and nut salads (romaine lettuce with pears, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette), as well as those childhood favorites, tater tots. Add-ons to the plain tots include bacon, cheddar/beer sauce, or cheddar/beer sauce/bacon. The loaded BBQ tots feature all of the above with jalapenos and sour cream added.

Loaded tater tots from Cheesy Street Grill in Natick, Westborough and Wellelsey, Mass.
Loaded BBQ tater tots. Photo credit: Todd Fairchild Photography, West Hartford, Conn.

Cheesy Street Grill meets latest 21st century customer demands and preferences, also. Example: Instead of using just a regular bread, Lisa sources from a high quality breadmaker.

"It's a hardy bread and toasts beautifully," said Lisa. And it can hold up the heftier items that go into the sandwiches."

Cheesy Street Grill also offer gluten free bread for those with sensitivities.

Conclusion

Cheesy Street Grill, Natick, MA.
Cheesy Street Grill at the Natick Service Plaza.

Local residents, business people, politicians and travelers have all taken notice of Cheesy Street Grill with a growing dedicated returning customer
base. People love their grilled cheese, but it seems Cheesy Street Grill's version even more.

"That's the best part about being on the Pike," said Lisa. "You meet people from all over the world. Transylvania, South Africa, it's just incredible. People from the local neighborhoods come here. We've had Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and (Massachusetts) Governor Charlie Baker, as well as various famous musicians, stop by."

At an age when most people are thinking retirement within the next 10 to 15 years, Lisa has strong ambitions of growing her business.

"My intent is to sell 200 franchises across the country," said Lisa with a smile and, simultaneously, a serious nature.


Editor's note: Lisa is selling Cheesy Street Grill franchising opportunities. For more information on becoming part of this exciting, emerging brand, click here and navigate toward bottom of the page for franchising link.

Cheesy Street Grill is located at:
117 Mile Post,  Massachusetts Turnpike, I-90 Eastbound, Natick MA 01760. Tel. 617-401-9660.
1044 Massachusetts Turnpike, I-90 Westbound, Westborough, MA 01580. Tel. 860-930-2472.
900 Worcester St., Wellesley, MA  02482. Tel. 781-489-5088.
Web Site:
https://cheesystreetgrill.com
Cheesy Street Grill menu: https://cheesystreetgrill.com/#menu

Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/cheesystgrill/
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/cheesystgrill
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/CheesyStGrill


Save the Cheesy Street Grill graphic below on Pinterest...
Cheesy Street Grill, on the Massachusetts Turnpike Service Plazas in Natick and Westborough, makes incredibly delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato bisque.



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Winsmith Mill Market, Norwood, Mass.





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