Ben Wood is the co-owner of UMelt and CEO/Founder of Fire and Water Restaurant Group. Read on to see how he infuses gourmet into grilled cheese.
So the concept of UMelt is gourmet grilled cheese. How did you come up with this?
We really wanted to create something different that nobody had done before. The quick service world was saturated with the same stuff like burritos and burgers. We thought grilled cheese would be something fresh and unique so we went for it.
But it’s not just regular grilled cheese. Your sandwiches are unique and gourmet. What are some of your popular menu items?
A favorite seems to be the White Trash, which has pulled pork, cheddar cheese and mac n’ cheese on sourdough. It sounds like a lot, but people love it.
One of my favorites is the Wild. This one has Swiss cheese, sliced apple, caramelized onions and truffle oil.
What ingredients make your sandwiches a cut above?
Most everything is made from scratch in house. I think that really sets us apart in this industry. We make our own shallot fig jam, pesto, garlic aioli, pickles and more. We also roast our own turkey and make a delicious honey whipped goat cheese. All of our soups are hand crafted.
You’re on the URI campus. Do the college kids get into these sophisticated takes on the classic grilled cheese?
Surprisingly yes. The college crowd does not shy away from things like shallots and truffle oil. It’s wonderful to see. And the professors are equally pleased.
Will your menu change for the summer at all?
Our main change is that we will add cold gazpacho to our soup menu, also made from scratch in house.
What do you see in the future for UMelt?
We’re opening a second location in downtown Providence in the middle of June. We’ll see how that goes and take it from there.