A California-based fast-casual chain has big plans for Houston. No, the long-simmering rumors of an In-N-Out invasion haven’t finally come true, but the new restaurant will serve both grilled cheese sandwiches and cheeseburgers.
Meet The Melt, a rapidly expanding chain known for its all-natural dishes that include grilled cheese sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and mac and cheese. To manage that growth, the company recently hired Ralph Bower to serve as its CEO. Bower brings his experiences as the former CEO of Pei Wei and the former president of Popeye’s to his role.
Bower tells CultureMap that The Melt’s all natural ingredients appealed to him when he was considering joining the company. As he lists some of the specific items used in the various dishes, it becomes clear that The Melt will join concepts like Hopdoddy and Shake Shack in bringing attention to the sources of its ingredients.
“There’s a lot of burger places out there, especially fast casual, but one of the things that makes us distinct is we use all natural Angus and wagyu beef,” he says. “We use real aged cheese. Our bread has no artificial ingredients. Even our soda is all natural with no high fructose corn syrup.”
The company has big plans for Houston. Its first location will open in Baybrook Mall in November, and the company expects to open three more in the Houston-area by the end of the year. All told, Bower tells CultureMap that he thinks the Houston-area could support as many as 20 locations.
“We’ve had a lot of success in California and in Denver,” Bower tells CultureMap. “What we’re finding is that our message is you can have the great food you grew up with without preservatives and chemicals has been really well-received. We thought Houston would be a great next step. It’s one of the largest markets in the country.”