I Heart Mac & Cheese, a fast-casual concept specializing in customizable, made-to-order macaroni and cheese bowls and grilled cheese sandwiches, announced a four-store franchise development agreement with Jason Mejia to bring the brand to California. The first location is planned to open in the Greater Los Angeles area near UCLA in November with the remaining restaurants opening in Westwood, Claremont and Fullerton in the coming months.
“I Heart Mac & Cheese is a fun, attractive concept and an affordable franchise model that is easy to operate, with support systems in place to help our partners be successful,” says Stephen Giordanella, I Heart Mac & Cheese CEO and Chairman. “We are thrilled to introduce our popular concept to the state of California. With four million residents and 50 million tourists to the City of Angels annually, we knew this was a great destination for celebrities, families and visitors to enjoy to everyone’s favorite childhood dishes.”
A California native, Mejia will manage and oversee operations for each I Heart Mac & Cheese restaurant. Mejia has spent his career in the business industry handling high level accounts and negotiating contacts while developing business relationships. He was initially attracted to I Heart Mac & Cheese as his children are passionate about the brand’s signature menu item – mac & cheese – and, after learning more about the franchise model, knew this venture would propel him into an opportunity to provide for his family for years to come.
“I’m excited to open four I Heart Mac & Cheese locations and help the brand make their West Coast expansion a reality in the heart of the Los Angeles community,” adds Mejia. “As soon as I met the I Heart Mac & Cheese leadership team, I knew it was the right entrepreneurial opportunity to help my dreams of becoming a franchisee a reality. My family and I cannot wait to welcome our guests and tourists from near and far, to a concept that offers dishes that are reminiscent of their favorite childhood memories.”
I Heart Mac & Cheese is well-known for custom, build-your-own macaroni and cheese bowls and grilled cheese sandwiches. Guests select a pasta, bread, quinoa, broccoli or cauliflower base along with seven different proteins, vegetables, and cheeses. Most recently, the brand unveiled a new vegan menu featuring plant-based options through an official partnership that was launched with Beyond Meat®. Gluten-free options are also available. Sesame ginger, mango habanero, buffalo, BBQ, and pesto are a few of the delicious dressings and sauces available to mix in or top off each creation. In addition to customized options, the menu includes specialty chef special items like Baked Chicken Parmesan, Baked Meatball Parmesan, The Cuban, Pepperoni Pizza, and Lobster & White Truffle Mac, among others. Guests can pair their meal with the perfect side of Tomato Soup and finish it with a selection of desserts such as Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies and Marshmallow Treats.
A unique franchise concept in the restaurant industry with no fryers, grease trap systems or hood systems, I Heart Mac & Cheese requires a low investment and can be opened in a small space, such as a mall kiosk or food court. Shopping malls, sports venues, areas close to colleges and universities, and high-traffic pedestrian areas are also ideal locations. With a home office in South Florida, I Heart Mac & Cheese offers franchise owner training, marketing support and ongoing development opportunities to ensure each location’s success.
This month, I Heart Mac & Cheese was selected by QSR Magazine as one of America’s hottest startup fast-casual brands on their annual 40/40 list showcasing emerging concepts with fewer than 40 locations. In 2019, I Heart Mac & Cheese was ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top new franchise opportunities. In addition to California, several other new locations have recently been announced, with upcoming openings in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas.