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Tuesday, January 7,2014

The sandwich district

Tom Chee, Firehouse Subs hold grand openings on Wednesday

by Kyle Koehler
Grilled cheese and tomato soup at Tom + Chee, celebrating its grand opening tomorrow in downtown Lansing. Allan I. Ross/City Pulse

Tuesday, Jan. 7 — If you’re looking to grab a sandwich, downtown Lansing has no shortage of choices. And Wednesday, Jan. 8, the two newest sandwich shops — Tom Chee, 123 S. Washington Square, and Firehouse Subs, 200 S. Washington Square — will hold grand openings, including a donut-eating contest at Tom Chee. Screw New Year’s resolutions; we’re squarely in carb-loading season now. 


At 11:30 a.m., Tom Chee co-owners Mark Wibel and Mike Wagner will celebrate the grand opening of Tom Chee, a Cincinnati-based chain that features a menu of creative takes on grilled cheese sandwiches and soups, including grilled cheese’s wingman, tomato soup. One of the original founders, Corey Ward, will be on hand to welcome newcomers.


The Lansing location will mark the first Tom Chee in Michigan, and the franchise’s eighth restaurant overall. It gained national attention when the idea was pitched on the reality TV show, “Shark Tank” with its twist on comfort food. Its signature dessert, the Grilled Cheese Donut, has been featured on ABC's “The Chew” and Travel Channel's “Man v. Food Nation.”


The restaurant offers many variations of the classic sandwich in addition to the Grilled Cheese Donut, including the Hippy Chee, which comes with hummus and vegetables, and the Flying Pig, which includes turkey, bacon and pickles.


In addition to the wide variety of sandwiches, the restaurant also boasts made-from-scratch soups and salads. All of the meats are roasted in-house and all dressings, sauces and spreads are made from scratch. The restaurant also serves gluten-free bread, vegan cheese and vegetarian and vegan soups.


Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, three guests will participate in the Baker's Dozen Donut Eating Challenge. The contestants must eat 13 Grilled Cheese Donuts in one sitting, with only one drink to help. And sorry, unless you’ve already registered, the best you can do is watch these three go to town.

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