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by Steve Adams

BRAINTREE —What McDonald’s did to standardize the roadside burger, Michael Inwald wants to do with the humble grilled-cheese sandwich.

After making the comfort food classic a staple of his diet during his undergraduate days at Cornell University – “it was either Ramen noodles or grilled cheese” – Inwald opens a Cheeseboy kiosk Friday at South Shore Plaza’s food court.
It’s the third Cheeseboy location for Inwald, a Yale University School of Management student who is currently on leave from the school. He hopes to build a nationwide network of toasted cheese outlets. The lack of direct competitors gives Cheeseboy an advantage, Inwald said.

“Five Guys (Burgers and Fries) is probably the next big story, but it’s taking a concept that already existed,” he said. “Nobody is talking grilled cheese.”

Inwald, 30, attracted an angel investor for his concept in 2009 while attending a summer fellowship program sponsored by the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. After a positive reception at a series of country fairs in Connecticut, he opened his first location at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford that fall.

The mall location’s success gave Inwald and his financial backers confidence to expand to a second location at Boston’s South Station in October. The company moved its headquarters to Boston and hired Robert Brickles, a former executive with McDonald’s and Boston Market, as chief operating officer.

Inwald now is in negotiations for up to eight additional locations in the Northeast, including three that are expected to open within six months. His long-range goal is to start marketing the concept as a franchise on a nationwide scale. He estimated start-up costs at $200,000 to $500,000 per location.

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