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Gourmet grilled cheese restaurant acquires downtown location

Brian Hartz

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Fo'Cheezy Twisted Meltz, the brainchild of chef Robert Hesse, will bring its brand of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to downtown St. Pete in June.

Fo’Cheezy Twisted Meltz, the grilled-cheese themed restaurant operated by celebrity chef Robert Hesse — who trained under Gordon Ramsay, the hot-tempered creator of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares — and restaurateur Chef Craig Munroe, has expanded to downtown St. Petersburg after opening its first location earlier this year in St. Pete Beach.

According to spokesman Daks Davis, Hesse and Munroe have agreed to lease the space formerly occupied by Five Guys Burgers and Fries at 111 Third St. N. They were due to take possession of the property at 3 p.m. today, Davis told the Catalyst.

The expansion coincides with National Grilled Cheese Day, which is today, and to celebrate, Fo’Cheezy Twisted Meltz will give away free grilled cheese sandwiches at its St. Pete Beach restaurant, located at 6305 Gulf Blvd., from 3 to 6 p.m.

Chef Robert Hesse, a St. Pete native, trained under master chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and the late Anthony Bourdain.

“We want to wish everyone a happy National Grilled Cheese Day, so you better make it on out here to get your free sandwich,” Hesse said.

Hesse is a St. Pete native and has been open about his checkered past. As a teenager, he struggled with homelessness, drugs, morbid obesity, a suicide attempt and jail time.

“Seeing other people go down in flames, I knew that that didn’t need to be me,” Hesse told the Catalyst. “I found myself in a halfway house as a necessity to stay off the street.”

Hesse eventually got his life on the right track, becoming an in-demand, high-profile chef whose resume includes experience at the Playboy Mansion, Las Vegas casinos and catering for the cast and crew of TV shows such as Breaking Bad.

However, Hesse has never forgotten his early troubles and, with Munroe’s help, launched No Kid 86’d, a charity that aims to help at-risk youth avoid the kind of trouble that Hesse got into when he was young. Fo’Cheezy contributes 2 percent of its revenue to the charity and has been doing so since it initially opened as a food-truck concept in March of 2020.

“We’re changing the world between two slices of bread,” Hesse said.

In restaurant industry lingo, Davis explained, “86’d” means something has been taken off the menu. He said Fo’Cheezy also supports Eckerd Connects, a local nonprofit whose programs helped Hesse when he was growing up in St. Pete.

“His big thing is not a handout but a hand up,” Davis said.

Hesse and Munroe spent months looking at locations in downtown St. Pete before settling on the former Five Guys space. They also considered the former Brass Bowl location in the trendy 600 block of Central Avenue.

“This is a big deal for them,” Davis said. “It took six months of negotiating and renegotiating.”

He said Hesse and Munro are planning a 60-day buildout for the new Fo’Cheezy, which should be open by the middle or end of June. They’ve hired well-known local muralist Matt Kress to paint the interior.

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