Photo courtesy of Grater Grilled Cheese.
Grater Grilled Cheese, which started in 2011 as a San Diego-based food truck business, has opened a new location in Otay Ranch.

Photo courtesy of Grater Grilled Cheese. Grater Grilled Cheese, which started in 2011 as a San Diego-based food truck business, has opened a new location in Otay Ranch.

Grater Grilled Cheese, a San Diego-based gourmet grilled cheese restaurant chain, is expanding.

Founded by husband and wife duo Bernardo Kanarek and Maya Kanarek, Grater Grilled Cheese recently opened its fourth brick and mortar location, in Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch neighborhood.

Within months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company recuperated roughly 90% of the business it had lost as a result, according to Joseph Karadakis, director of operations and culinary. The launch of the new store will hopefully continue to increase revenue for the $5 million company, he said.

Food Truck Operation

“Our soft opening was on Friday, Dec. 11. We were open strictly for take-out and it has been crazy – we sold out through our opening weekend,” said Maya Kanarek. While “these are difficult times to make projections,” Kanarek, who started the company as a food truck operation in 2011, said “we have a full commitment to the community and all of our team members to give our best efforts to stay afloat and continue to strive to be a top company within grilled cheese innovation.”

It goes without saying, the Grater Grilled Cheese executive team is optimistic.

Lobster Grilled Cheese

The Kanareks opened the first Grater Grilled Cheese store in 2014 in Mission Valley. Karadakis said the drive behind growing the operation at that point was when the team realized its loyal followers were driving long distances to eat some of Grater Grilled Cheese’s tasty creations; the Lobster grilled cheese, on two slices of sourdough bread with five slices of all natural, unprocessed cheese selection from Colby, swiss, Monterey jack, provolone and sharp cheddar, has long been a favorite, he said. Other menu items include the avocado grilled cheese, the Nashville hot and a create-your-own option, as well as a loaded mac n’ cheese, loaded pommes frites and burgers, including an Impossible Foods burger option.

Up to that point, the food truck business mainly consisted of servicing corporate offices around the county, said Karadakis, although it was also contracted for private events, he said. This included quinceañeras and partnerships with the likes of Stone Brewing Co. and the San Diego Zoo.

The Otay Ranch location is 1,400 square feet in size, said Karadakis, and it is only currently open for pick-up, take-out and delivery due to the coronavirus crisis. When restaurants are allowed indoor dining again, he said patrons will be pleased to be greeted by a very personalized, bistro-like experience. He said the décor is inspired by French eateries with metal chairs, marble top tables and hardwood floors, among other elements customers might not normally see in other fast-casual food places.

Full Experience

The atmosphere is just one of the aspects in which Grater Grilled Cheese sets itself apart from the competition, specifically The Melt, a La Jolla-based grilled cheese restaurant.

“Our top-quality ingredients set us apart,” said Maya Kanarek. “All of our sandwiches are crafted made to order and all of our recipes are unique. Even our bread is specifically made for us. We don’t just sell sandwiches, we serve a full experience.”

In the future, Grater Grilled Cheese plans to aggressively promote and continue to grow the business. With three other locations in Mission Valley, Irvine and Huntington Beach, the company hopes to open storefronts in North County and Los Angeles next.

“We are also excited to continue our franchising opportunities,” said Maya Kanarek, “and bring our brand and quality comfort food to additional markets.”