Tom + Chee announces 2015 franchise expansion after July lay-offs

CINCINNATI -- A little more than a month since Tom + Chee laid off six employees, the Cincinnati-based restaurant announced Wednesday 13 new locations will open by spring.

“We’re very excited about the momentum we’re seeing going into the fourth quarter,” said co-founders Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush. “It’s going to lead to continued growth in 2015, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue to bring Tom+Chee into these new markets.”

In late July, the restaurant's owners let go members of their marketing, catering and training teams.

RELATED: Employees laid off at Tom + Chee headquarters over growth issues

One of those people, former Tom + Chee publicist Sharon Rudd, was surprised by the sudden announcement.

"I think we're all in shock," Rudd said. "(The meeting) was very impromptu."

In 2013, Quackenbush said Tom + Chee, an eatery that started in a tent location and known for its specialty grilled cheeses and tomato soup, was posed for rapid national expansion in late 2014.

In July, he cited tough business decisions to position his company for future  growth as the reason for the lay-offs.

“We love the people that work for us. We love everybody that has contributed to Tom + Chee's success – our fans, our stores, all of our employees,” Quackenbush said. “You know it's difficult decisions that companies have to make. They're hard on everybody and we just had to make the right choice for Tom + Chee.”

In Wednesday's announcement, Quackenbush and Ward said new franchises will open in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia and Nebraska.

The openings, set to start in late 2014, will double the number of Tom + Chee's nationally.

“Since we appeared on Shark Tank we’ve received more than 20,000 inquiries from people interested in operating their own Tom+Chee,” said Ward.  “It’s an exciting time for our company and it’s proof that hard work and good food can make your dreams come true.”

The owners also plan to have a grand re-opening of their first mortar-and-brick store located on Court Street this fall.

The new locations for Tom + Chee are in the following cities: Alpharetta and Buford, GA; Evansville, IN; Olathe, KS; Bossier, LA; Grand Rapids, MI; St. Louis, MO; Carboro, NC; Lincoln and Omaha, NE; Columbus and West Chester, OH; and Knoxville, TN.

The West Chester store will be located 9328 Union Center Boulevard, according to the Tom + Chee website.

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