BOULDER, Colo. — Eco-Products has teamed up with The Melt to solve a mystery that has vexed chefs, restaurants and caterers for decades: how to keep grilled cheese sandwiches hot, crispy and “ooey gooey” until they’re delivered to their catering destination. The result has earned Eco-Products two industry honors for creating a compostable box that prevents grilled cheese sandwiches from getting soggy and stale and instead keeps them fresh, hot and crispy during their catering commute.
“These containers are a true marvel of engineering in food packaging,” said Wendell Simonson, Vice President for Eco-Products, based in Boulder, Colo.
The Melt, a rapidly growing fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in all-natural, better-for-you, real happy comfort foods, needed an inventive catering solution to deliver its signature grilled cheese sandwiches. Turning to its Silicon Valley roots, the company developed advanced technology to create the new “Smart Box” — the food industry’s first catering delivery system using sophisticated software to perfectly balance humidity, heat, and air circulation.
The Melt partnered with Eco-Products to design compostable containers that would complement the new Smart Box. The Eco-Products design team created a revolutionary new container that acts as a sort of portable convection oven to keep sandwiches tasting just as good at their destination as they do in the restaurant. In addition to grilled cheese, the new Eco-Products container works perfectly with The Melt’s cheeseburgers, too.
“We want to ensure the best product experience for our guests in store, at the office, or for any occasion,” said Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of The Melt. “We just couldn’t find an existing catering delivery solution that could do the job, so we invented one ourselves.”
The container is 100 percent compostable – meaning it’s not only good for customers, it’s good for the environment. The innovative box earned Eco-Products two prestigious awards this month from the Foodservice Packaging Institute and QSR magazine:
Ø The Second Place Award for Performance Innovation, presented for design innovations that improve product performance.
Ø The Third Place Award for the “Wow” Factor, presented for innovative packaging that best personifies the “Wow” effect when consumers or foodservice operators use or see the packaging.
“It’s great to see the industry honoring compostable packaging for innovation,” Simonson said. “It shows that environmentally friendly products perform just as well – and oftentimes even better – than conventional products.”
Eco-Products designed the box with a number of innovative features, including:
Ø Crisping ridges: These ridges elevate the sandwich off the base and allow air to flow around the sandwich. This prevents moisture from becoming trapped underneath the sandwich, keeping the bread hot and crispy.
Ø Moisture ventilation: Strategically placed ventilation slots allow moisture and cooler air to escape.
“The result is sandwiches delivered to your home or office that taste just as good as they do at the restaurant,” Simonson said. “It’s something you have to taste to believe.”
Thanks to its success in California, The Melt is now expanding into Colorado, with five planned locations. The first two locations opened last month in Lone Tree, Colo. and Denver Colo. with three other Metro Denver locations set to open in the next few months.
“We’re happy to see The Melt opening restaurants in our home state,” Simonson said. “We’re huge fans of natural, wholesome foods here, so we know The Melt will be successful.”
The Melt has already emerged as a leader in the fast casual restaurant space. The company recently was selected as one of FastCasual.com’s Top 50 Brands of 2015.
“We’re thrilled to be working with The Melt, an innovative company that really cares about its guests, its employees and its commitment to a cleaner planet,” Simonson said. “What they’re doing is truly ingenious.”
About Eco-Products®, Inc.
Eco-Products, based in Boulder, Colo., is the nation’s leading brand of single use foodservice products made from renewable and recycled resources. Their products are, relative to traditional counterparts, gentler on the environment because they require fewer virgin resources to produce, and make diversion from landfills an option upon disposal. Visit www.ecoproducts.com for more information.
About The Melt
Headquartered in San Francisco, The Melt is a fast casual eatery that combines chef-inspired, wholesome food with innovative technology and a mission to serve better food to families through 100 percent all-natural American classics. The Melt offers unique melts that are handcrafted and made-to-order with quality standards that prohibit hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives — really, no artificial anything. Using only the highest caliber ingredients, The Melt serves guests burgers crafted with a custom blend of Angus and Wagyu beef, grilled cheese melts – melted to order – made with real aged cheese, crispy fries, mac ‘n’ cheese, homemade soups and fresh salads. In July 2014, the company developed and launched its catering “Smart Box” to ensure the same quality of food and experience as in each store via the patented catering system. The growth of The Melt is fueled by a solid management team led by Flip Video founder Jonathan Kaplan and a top-tier board of directors including Ron Johnson, former head of retail operations at Apple; Mike Moritz, Bruce Dunlevie and Michael Marks, three prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists; and Michael Mina, a James Beard award winning chef and restaurateur.