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Say Cheese Mac & Melt Co., located directly south of Costco at 815 23rd Ave. E., is set to open by the end of July, co-owner Jessica Johnson told The Forum.
Working alongside Johnson will be co-owner Kelly Visto, the restaurateur behind Big Erv’s in Horace, and general manager Heather Nygaard. The group is currently working to put the finishing touches on the interior of the restaurant and staff up in advance of the opening. “We’re plugging along, so we should be open by the last week of July if everything goes well,” Johnson commented.
Johnson and Visto first developed the concept for Say Cheese a few years ago as they were brainstorming unique ideas that didn’t yet exist in the metro area. A macaroni and cheese-focused establishment immediately became a front-runner for the pair. “A couple years ago, we were tossing around some ideas of something the Fargo-Moorhead area was missing, and we came up with a mac and cheese idea,” Johnson explained.
Johnson and Visto already had a head-start as well, as macaroni and cheese was already a customer-favorite at Big Erv’s. “They’re pretty well-known for their mac and cheese, so we just started thinking about how we could bring this into the Fargo-Moorhead area,” Johnson recalled. “‘Why not make a restaurant out of this?’”
Featuring their own signature sauce, macaroni and cheese will be at the forefront of Say Cheese’s menu. “It’s amazing. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Johnson said of the staple dish. “It’s just really, really good.”
To top things off, Say Cheese will also serve roughly 15 different toppings for their macaroni and cheese, including several homestyle options such as chicken, meatballs, prime rib and pot roast. “It’s really centered around the mac and cheese and having these really good comfort foods to go along with it,” Johnson said. “It’s those really good foods you think about growing up that just remind you of home.”
Beyond the basics, Say Cheese also features other specialty macaroni and cheese dishes. Johnson’s favorite is the jalapeño popper macaroni and cheese, which is Say Cheese’s base macaroni and cheese with jalapeños, candied bacon and onions, topped with raspberry cream cheese.
It’s just one of the several menu options which Johnson said makes Say Cheese one-of-a-kind in the Fargo-Moorhead area. “Kelly is a natural cook. We came up with all of these recipes on our own,” she said. “Some of them are pretty standardized, but then there are a couple of them that are a little more unique and out there.”
Also on the menu will be other pasta and sauce options, including a “zesty” red sauce, gluten-free items and cauliflower pastas.
Beyond pasta, Say Cheese will also dish up lavosh, salads, melts and other sandwiches. Another of Johnson’s favorites is the caprese sandwich, made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, avocado and cream cheese. Overall, Johnson is optimistic that from cheat foods to lighter options, the menu will offer something for everyone.
Considering it’s yet to open, Johnson said Say Cheese has generated a considerable buzz among the area’s cheese fanatics. “We’ve had an outpouring of response as far as people messaging us privately or even just stopping by,” she said. “As we’re inside painting or doing other things, people are stopping by taking pictures.”
Despite not having a background in the restaurant industry, Johnson decided to team up with Visto to bring the concept to life. She has another full-time job already, but she said her goal is to make Say Cheese a place for young residents to enter the workforce, with wages advertised between $12 and $18 per hour. “My investment comes from wanting to really make this something that my kids can work at one day and my nieces could come work at,” she said. “It’s just something to really have a positive work environment for children who maybe this is their first job.”
She’s also bullish on the restaurant idea itself and both Johnson and Visto are already eyeing a second metro area location, potentially in north Fargo near the North Dakota State University campus.
For now, the West Fargo location will be a trial run. “This is really kind of our prototype to see what works, what doesn’t work and only make it better so that we can open up another one,” Johnson said. “Within the next year or so, we’d like to have a second restaurant open.”
Johnson is also setting her gaze beyond the Fargo area, aiming to transform Say Cheese into a franchise. “We’d love for it to eventually become a franchise that started locally here in good old West Fargo,” she said. “We’re really swinging for the fences here.”
Read full article at INFORUM
16 July, 2021 - 05:01am
16 July, 2021 - 05:01am
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It’s comfort food — in a cone.
A limited-edition macaroni and cheese-flavored ice cream hit freezers nationwide this week, Brooklyn-based ice cream maker Van Leeuwen and Kraft Heinz announced.
The cheesy frozen treat went on sale for $12 a pint on Wednesday, marking National Macaroni & Cheese Day, the companies said.
It will be available for purchase in Van Leeuwen’s stores across the country as well as online while supplies last.
The companies described the ice cream as a "cool, creamy scoop of ice cream that brings that comforting, nostalgic feeling from a warm bowl of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese."
"We know that there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than ice cream. That is why we wanted to combine two of the most iconic comfort foods to create an ice cream with the unforgettable flavor of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese we all grew up with," said Emily Violett, a senior associate brand manager for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.
"As big fans of Van Leeuwen, we knew they’d be the perfect partner to create this ice cream with us. Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s also made with high quality ingredients and contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes just like our Kraft Macaroni & Cheese," Violett added.
Brothers Pete and Ben Van Leeuwen and Laura O’Neill founded Van Leeuwen in 2008, operating out of a yellow truck on the streets of New York City.
The idea was to use fair trade high-end ingredients, many of them organic, to make their own artisanal flavors that include Honeycomb, Marionberry Cheesecake, Vegan Earl Grey Tea and now, Kraft Mac & Cheese.
The company now has 23 "scoop shops" across New York City, Houston and Los Angeles and sells pints in grocery stores across the country.
This story first appeared in the New York Post