A newcomer will be joining the ranks of Thayer Street businesses after a Providence Board of Licenses meeting Monday granted tentative approval for the opening of a U Melt on College Hill. The approval came the same day the owners received keys for their new location: the space at 267 Thayer formerly occupied by Nice Slice.
U Melt bills itself as a “gourmet grilled cheese store” offering a number of options ranging in complexity from the “Classic” sandwich of American cheese on white bread to a bevy of more specific delicacies.
“The Chipster,” for instance, elevates a simple cheddar and bacon on sourdough with the addition of BBQ Cape Cod potato chips. On a more sophisticated note, the “Turkey Brie” consists of brie cheese, roasted turkey and shallot fig jam on rye.
For those feeling a touch less sophisticated, the “White Trash” sandwich combines mac and cheese, cheddar and BBQ pulled pork on sourdough for a unique take on a traditionally simple dish.
At its downtown location, two salads are available — relatively tame interpretations of a Caesar and Greek — while another sandwich of sorts is available for dessert: the S’mores. Sandwiching Nutella, graham crackers and marshmallow fluff between two slices of raisin bread — the store’s singular sugary offering could even rival the fare of other Thayer Street sweet spots Ben & Jerry’s and Insomnia Cookies.
U Melt’s downtown location is adjacent to the campus of Johnson and Wales University, a factor co-founder Jonathan Kaufman said has been integral to the store’s success.
“Johnson and Wales is a great community,” Kaufman said, adding that the store has employed a number of JWU culinary students over the years who understand U Melt’s unconventional interpretations of grilled cheese.
“We get a little traffic from” College Hill, Kaufman said, “but we’re so excited now to share U Melt with the Brown and RISD communities, not to mention residents of the East Side.”
Establishing a location on Thayer has been a goal of Kaufman’s since he and co-owners Benjamin and Jessica Wood first opened U Melt in 2013. Kaufman met and befriended the couple while working for them during his studies at the University of Rhode Island and said that opening a restaurant together had been a mutual dream for years.
Renovations, menu tweaking and other logistical formalities must be completed before U Melt can open, but Kaufman said that the owners are aiming to be operational by the end of the summer.