Family meals can sometimes be fraught affairs, with picky eaters and busy schedules making it tough to get everyone together to simply enjoy the same food in the same place. That’s exactly why locals Haley and Tony Fritz draw families in droves when they visit the Maple Grove Community Center for the farmers market with Bleu and Colby, the two food trucks that make up O’Cheeze, a mobile grilled cheese sandwich business that makes lunch a fun, filling event for kids and kids at heart.
“We get tons of families,” says Haley, noting that the most popular of O’Cheeze’s rotating menu of five inventive flavor combinations is the mac-and-cheese grilled cheese, which features macaroni noodles and a gooey sauce of Irish white cheddar, sharp cheddar and Havarti cheeses on O’Cheeze’s signature thin-cut, whole grain white bread. The optional addition of bacon makes this sandwich an impossibly rich, delicious meal that is both familiar and infinitely better than the average cheese sandwich. “The people we appeal to are adventurous parents who want to give their kids an experience,” Haley says.
When they started dating as college students at the University of North Dakota, Haley and Tony were juggling classes during the day and jobs at local restaurants at night, so “the only time we got to see each other was at lunch,” she says. “We ate lots of grilled cheeses as broke college kids.”
Upon graduation, the couple knew they wanted to own their own business, and they knew it had to be centered on something fun that they were passionate about; with Haley’s degree in marketing and their extensive list of creative grilled cheese recipes, they launched the first O’Cheeze food truck in 2013.
“The first year we were the only employees, and we weren’t entirely sure it would be lucrative,” Haley remembers. “We worked every shift six or seven days a week, and there were times when we got on the truck at 8 a.m., got off at 11 p.m. and went straight to the commissary kitchen to prep for the next day.”
That hard work paid off, and now the husband-and-wife team is serving up grilled cheeses across the metro. They will soon be opening a skyway location in downtown Minneapolis. “I can’t even express how nuts it’s been,” Haley says of their success. “We were expecting just to go out there and exist in the world, and people have just gobbled us up.”
Creating culinary wonders that appeal to kids’ taste buds and tap into their parents’ nostalgia for their childhood favorites is no small feat, but the Fritzes success with O’Cheeze encouraged them to start a new concept this past summer that takes everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure to a new level: Dough Dough, a dessert food truck serving heaping scoops of cookie dough in indulgent flavors from classic chocolate chip to salted caramel. The recipes are egg-free and use personally pasteurized flour, so it’s all the fun and none of the risk of real cookie batter.
“Some kids are scared to try it, but it’s all about adventure,” Haley says. “It’s something they can get excited about and go home and talk about; not something that melts in to their day, but an experience.”
Sharing those experiences around food is nourishing and fun for the Fritzes' and their happy customers, a chance to connect in big and small ways with each other on normal days and as well as on important occasions.
“The most gratifying is at a wedding, when we’re literally part of the big day, something they’ll talk about the rest of their lives,” Haley says. “It solidifies you in a teeny tiny part of history; we never thought we’d be doing something with impact like that.”