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For the love of mac and cheese
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Ben and Tracy Bazar pose in front of the backdrop inside their new franchise restaurant, I Heart Mac and Cheese, which held a grand opening Monday in Turlock (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Name of Business: I Heart Mac & Cheese

Type of business: Restaurant

Specialty: Macaroni and cheese

Location:1205 W. Monte Vista Ave., Turlock

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Contact: (209) 250-1619


History of business:

Just over a year after the “I Heart Mac and Cheese” signs were installed at the shopping center at 1205 W. Monte Vista Ave. in Turlock, the fast-growing national chain officially opened their doors to the public on Monday as part of a special ribbon-cutting event alongside the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s amazing to finally open and see all these people,” said Ben Bazar, who opened the franchise location alongside his wife, Tracy. “It’s really a dream come true. It’s turning out better than I thought.

The couple signed up to be an I Heart Mac ad Cheese franchise in October of 2021, one month after Ben visited their location in Scottsdale, Arizona as he was scouting potential entrepreneurial ventures in the food industry.

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Jesus Pena-Ramirez of Turlock places the first order at I Heart Mac and Cheese on W. Monte Vista Ave. He was amongst the first 25 people in line who earned free mac and cheese for a year (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

“I Heart Mac and Cheese definitely stood out and caught my eye. Once I looked at the menu, and once I tried it, I fell in love with it. I knew this would be a hit,” he said.

As the name implies, there’s a lot of macaroni and cheese being served, whether it’s in a bowl, in sandwiches or in the form of fried bites.

Inside the Turlock location, yellow seats and a trendy backdrop with the restaurant logo caught the eye of many of the hundreds of customers, many posing to take photos to share on social media.

The hundreds of curious, hungry customers were drawn by the hype surrounding the chain that only has three other locations across California and only about 40 across the nation. They were also drawn by the fact that the first 25 people in line received a coupon for free mac and cheese for a meal (one meal per week).

Jesus Pena-Ramirez of Turlock was the first in line, settling into his spot at midnight.

“I saw the flyer and just thought I’d give it a try because I live around the corner, so I just came,” he said. “I drive trucks at night, so I’m up at night anyways, and I always like doing weird stuff like this, so I just challenged myself to get here first and stick it out. It’s like Black Friday, but for mac and cheese. You can’t go wrong with mac and cheese, it’s like a staple food.”

Ben explained that the most popular menu item from the other franchise locations is the Best of Both Worlds, a grilled cheese sandwich with mac and cheese. Also popular with customers is the Lobster Mac and Cheese, featuring lobster flown in from Maine. It also happens to be Tracy’s favorite dish.

And for those who need a break from the pasta, they have other options, including broccoli, cauliflower, quinoa and tater tot bases, as well as a handful of sandwiches.

“Come look at our menu,” Ben said. “We truly have something for everyone. It’s not just mac and cheese. We have a ton of other delicious menu items, and once you try it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”