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Toasty's expands to downtown Duluth

Duluthians downtown soon won't have to go far to get the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Toasty's, a restaurant at 1032 E. Ninth St. specializing in the classic sandwich, will open a second location downtown and start serving customers this fall.

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Rachael Hagen picks up an order at Toasty's on Wednesday. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Duluthians downtown soon won't have to go far to get the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Toasty's, a restaurant at 1032 E. Ninth St. specializing in the classic sandwich, will open a second location downtown and start serving customers this fall.

Expanding into other parts of the city has always been the plan for Toasty's owner Thomas Hagen. Hagen wanted to start the restaurant small and grow it based on customer reception.

"It was always the plan," Hagen said. "It was just a matter of finding the right spot and the right opportunity."

The right spot, 220 W. Superior St., is a location that has housed 10 other restaurants since the 1970s, - most recently, Farley's Grill. Hagen said he knows opening a new location so soon after launching the original restaurant is a risk, but that customers have provided helpful feedback.

The downtown location won't be a carbon copy of the original Toasty's. Hagen said the new space will allow the restaurant to broaden its horizons and serve things like pasta salads and more foods to go, and even roast its own meats.

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"Rather than concentrating solely on grilled cheese, we're going to be expanding both menus to try to get into a lot more cold and just non-cheese sandwiches," he said. "We'll have a lot just ready to go."

Hagen is confident that Toasty's will maintain its brand, despite the changes. He wants the restaurant to be known not just for its grilled cheese sandwiches, but its use of fresh, local ingredients - something he said will continue.

"Our brand for us is more based on providing high-quality functional food, (and) fresh functional food," Hagen said. "We are really into local fresh food."

Hagen decided it was time to expand the restaurant after customers asked that Toasty's start delivering. He said the restaurant was getting requests for orders of 20 to 40 sandwiches, something the current location could not handle.

"We decided, rather than starting delivery and then going into potentially opening another store downtown, to fully committing to opening our store downtown," Hagen said.

Even though plans for a delivery service have been shelved, it's still an option. The downtown location's proximity to Interstate 35 will make it easier to deliver to eastern and western areas of Duluth, Hagen said.

Christopae Guilloteau visits Duluth frequently and comes to Toasty's when he does. He said he would like to visit the downtown location once it opens.

"I think it's a good idea," he said. "I like the way people react to the customers, and I love the food."

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Guillotea's response is consistent with that of other customers, Hagen said.

"Our clientele has given us really good feedback," he said. "We've been very lucky with the strong support we've gotten from the community all the way around."

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