Even though his product is available at every diner, deli and corner bodega, one New Yorker has found success selling grilled cheese on the black market.

The underground chef takes orders by text message, cooks his sandwiches on the stove in his brother’s East Village apartment, and then meets his customers on street corners.

“I feel like a drug dealer because I’m handing people a paper bag and they’re handing me cash,” the unlicensed cheese pusher, who, fearing reprisals from the Health Department, asked to be identified only as “Ronnie,” told the New York Post.

The sandwiches go for between $5 to $7 depending on the type of cheese and bread or the addition of extras like bacon or jalapeños.

He grills in a pan with unsalted butter, then wraps the sandwiches in tin foil and pops them into a 500-degree oven for a few minutes to achieve maximum crispiness — a trick he learned from his father.

It started with just a few friends, but now Ronnie is grilling 40 sandwiches a day, he said — a volume he can barely keep up with.

Mostly he’s worried that if he gets too big, he’s sure to draw the attention of health inspectors.

Photo by Allison Joyce.

Originally posted by Rich Whittle on July 29, 2014 in Ideas.

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