Independents Week: Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese

About a month ago, we found out that Hammontree’s Take Home Gourmet was moving around the corner into the new Nightbird Books space, putting in a sit down restaurant, and adding a new menu.

Less than 30 days later, Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese has fully moved into their new space at 205 W. Dickson St., the new menus are printed, and they are open for business.

The concept of the restaurant is a little different, and the Hammontree’s are planning on scaling back the amount of take-home dishes. The focus of their menu is now on 15 different grilled cheese sandwiches, and Chad’s homemade soups.

We got in touch with Alison and Chad for our last Independents Week profile, and they were nice enough to answer some questions for us.

What have you been listening to lately?
Alison – Well, we have satellite radio at the new restaurant and we’ve been keeping it on the ‘Soul Town’ station, so since we pretty much live here right now, we’re listening to a lot of soul–Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Aretha…

Congrats on the new space on Dickson St. You guys now have one of the best patios in town. Any plans to expand it?
Chad – Thanks, we are pretty excited about the patio. Within the next couple of months we plan to build a deck that connects the deck on Dickson St., in front of the Nightbird Book store, to the brick patio in front of our place. We also have a deck outside our front door that will be connected as well. Right now we can seat about 20 outside, but after construction we will have five different outdoor seating areas and will be able to seat 40 – 50 guests.

What about music. Will you guys be doing some occasional live music on the patio?
Chad – Absolutely, we have been talking to some local musicians about doing a Wednesday night thing in the courtyard, and we’ve had a lot of interest. At this point, we are probably two of three weeks away from getting something together.

We’ve already heard good things about your grilled cheese sandwiches. How’d you get the idea to do gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches?
Chad – We wanted to do something a little different. There are lots of places where you can get BBQ or Pizza or Italian, but there’s nothing like our place in this area. We have fifteen different Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to choose from, and a half dozen Homemade Soups. Alison and I have been talking about doing a soup and grilled cheese restaurant for years. Recently we’ve drawn some inspiration from an annual event in Las Angeles called The Grilled Cheese Invitational, and just recently the Grilled Cheese Invitational has also been held in Austin, so we’re really hoping to represent Fayetteville in next year’s competition.

What’s your favorite menu item?
Chad – Man, that’s a hard one. If I had to pick one, I’d go with the Parmageddon. It has Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto, sautéed mushrooms, ricotta, our house cheese blend (Monterey Jack, White Cheddar, Asiago) on parmesan crusted sourdough with burgundy red sauce for dippin’. Its definitely one of my favorites, but it’s a close call. We have a bunch of good ones.

Alison – My favorite’s a little harder to pin down; it changes daily, depending on my mood. I love the Chupacabre, the Caprese Melt, the White Buffalo, the Ozark Monte Cristo, the Brie’s Company or the simple Rookie with some of Chad’s awesome soup.

We noticed you guys have a pretty unique beer list already. Are you microbrew fans? What are some of the beers you guys are offering now?
Chad – Right now we have about a dozen beers to choose from and only one is a domestic. To name a couple that are little unique and personal favorites: a Hefe Weissen (wheat beer) called Franziskaner and Morimoto’s (the Iron Chef) Soba Ale, brewed by Rogue. We also have the Diamond Bear Pale Ale, from Little Rock, on tap. We plan to keep our beer list growing, so if anyone has suggestions please let us know.

Alison – I’m a huge fan of Mexican beers in the summertime, so I find myself leaning towards the Dos Equis Lager on tap, or the Pacifico or Corona in bottles.

It’s Independents Week this week, and we’re doing what we can to give some shout-outs to some of the great independent businesses in town that make Fayetteville so awesome. What are some of your favorite Fayetteville independent businesses?
Chad – Hugo’s tops the list, as far as restaurants go. It’s one of the few remaining Fayetteville icons, and the food is great. Without Hugo’s, and my experience as the General Manager there, Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese would not exist. Alison and I have also been diggin’ on some of the Southside restaurants like El Camino and The Greenhouse Grill (looking forward to the new location!). Downtown, Tiny Tim’s is an old favorite of ours.

Alison – For a drink we love the Smoke & Barrel, The Crown Pub, and Brewski’s. And, of course, our neighbor Nightbird Books rocks as a bookstore and as a place to interact with writers and poets. This is just scratching the surface, though. One of the rad things about Fayetteville is that we still have a lot of great locally owned places, and we try to give our business to them as much as possible.