Before Fort Worth had any food-truck parks, it had Lee’s Grilled Cheese.
But the owner of the rolling cafe of melted-cheese sandwiches — often in creative combos with meat, to the occasional consternation of vegetarians and grilled-cheese purists — has decided that it’s time to serve the last slice.
“After many tribulations and much soul searching, I have decided to go down a new path and leave Lee’s,” Lee Perez said Friday morning in a post on the Lee’s Grilled Cheese Facebook page.
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But this doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the truck. And if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you could have something to do with that.
“Like Willy Wonka or the Dread Pirate Roberts, I would love to find someone to continue our vision and maybe take it to the next level,” Perez says. “If you are seriously interested in purchasing Lee’s Grilled Cheese, you can email me for more info at Lee@LeesGrilledCheese.com.”
As noted in Perez’s post, Lee’s started seven years ago. According to Star-Telegrama archives, Perez, wife Veronica and Keith Lee Weber were all working for the same Grapevine video game developer, South Peak Games, when it hit serious financial problems. Weber began planning a food truck business, first hot dogs, then grilled cheese. When Lee Perez lost his job, they needed to get the business up and running to support their families.
The truck parked in places such as the Avoca Coffee lot on Magnolia Avenue, and it was a charter tenant at the Fort Worth Food Park when the park opened in late 2011. It offered mainstream grilled cheese but also such concoctions as the Back Breaker (barbecue pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and sharp cheddar on toasty bread).
The truck wasn’t limited to Fort Worth, making appearances in Dallas, Denton, Northeast Tarrant cities and elsewhere (the things you can do when you have wheels on your restaurant!). It proved so successful that a Lee’s Grilled Cheese brick-and-mortar opened in late 2012/early 2013 on North Tarrant Parkway in far north Fort Worth. And the truck kept rolling.
In May of this year, the brick-and-mortar shut down. Perez told the Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy that the busines had been great and that the closure was due to a lease dispute.
Don’t worry, there’s other grilled cheese out there. Sure, you could make your own, but there’s something comforting about having someone else make it for you. And they might even do things you wouldn’t think of, like make grilled-cheese doughnut sandwiches.
Gorgonzilla, another grilled-cheese-inspired truck, is still rolling, as is Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe. A Fort Worth location of national chain Tom+Chee is grilling in a brick-and-mortar in the sprawling Presidio Towne Crossing center in far north Fort Worth. There is also Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. in Oak Cliff.
But Grain & Dairy, an ambitious (and very good) grilled-cheese restaurant that opened in summer 2016 in Hurst, closed before its first year was up.