Frederick couples finds push to open food truck business amid pandemic


NEW MARKET, Md. (WDVM) — Faced with furloughs due to the coronavirus pandemic, a Frederick County couple decided to make the most of their time and launched a cheesy dream. 

It all started with a meal. Mike Passarelli was attempting to swoon Hillarie Hough during one of their first dates. His go-to move: cooking up lasagna.

“It was a bold move, and a timely process,” Passarelli said with a laugh.

It would become a process well worth it because the meal generated an idea the couple found worth chasing. 

“We’re sitting there eating and we’re like ‘This should be a grilled cheese! How good would it be encased in French bread? Made like a grilled cheese.’ The idea was born and we took off from there,” Hough explained. 

Their grilled cheese idea came in handy earlier this year as the couple faced job loss due to the shutdown of restaurants and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Hough had worked as a bartender in a local restaurant and in March saw the business temporarily close its doors.  She decided to put her 25 years of experience in the food industry to work, alongside Passarelli’s skills in carpentry and electrical work.

“We knew that unemployment [benefits] would only last for so long and we needed to make use of our time,” Hough said.

The couple embarked on a new journey to bring to life their grilled cheese business idea. They bought a food truck and spent two months installing electricity, insulation, plumbing and all the appliances need to cook their grilled cheese creations. 

Grilled Cheese Please! opened in September and has a list of six different sandwiches along with sides like tomatoes bisque. Since opening, they’ve sold nearly 4,000 grilled cheese sandwiches.

“We just got a flying start and it just hasn’t stopped.”

The fall weather has become a challenge, but plans are to continue stopping by wineries, breweries, and public parks. One thing’s for sure, their food truck will travel beyond the pandemic that kicked it into gear.

“It was one of those things that I dreamed of when I was 18 and then I had children and life moved on. I think that had not been for the pandemic, we would still be talking about it,” said Hough.

For more information on Grilled Cheese Please! click here.

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