The St. Louis area’s only Tom+Chee restaurant shuttered after the close of business Sunday night.
The restaurant, which was famous for its grilled cheese sandwiches made with donuts, was featured on the television show Shark Tank. The O’Fallon franchise opened in March of 2015 in Thoele Plaza.
Tom+Chee owner Doug Mating told 70 West Sentinel that the closure was due to decreasing business, which he said was mainly due to a lack of parking. That issue was compounded when a Monical’s Pizza restaurant opened in the same plaza. Mating, along with the owner of the Jimmy John’s store in the same plaza, went to the city with their concerns.
“The front parking lot was always jam-packed,” Mating said. When customers were unable to find parking in the front, he said, they went someplace else, even though there was additional parking behind the plaza.
“Nobody wants to park around the back. Show me any other strip center that has parking in the back,” Mating said. “Whether it was any other factor, I don’t know.”
Mating said that comments about the restaurant and the food were positive, and he went out of his way to please his customers. “I saw one woman just picking at her chicken salad, and I knew she wasn’t happy with her choice. I told her to pick anything else on the menu, on me.”
“No one left my restaurant unhappy if I could help it.”
Mating said that all of his employees will receive any pay due them. He personally made the announcement to the employees who were working Sunday night. Unfortunately, he said, the lines of communication broke down at that point and some employees found out about the restaurant’s closing via social media.
Plans for a second location of Tom+Chee in Richmond Heights have been scrapped. The St. Louis-area franchise territory is for sale, and interested persons can contact Mating through the store’s Facebook page.
Anyone with unused gift cards should contact the company’s corporate offices in Ohio for a refund.