LOS ANGELES — The pandemic has created new opportunities for take-out and delivery-only businesses.

One new concept, Croqué, is serving fast, casual yet high-end croque monsieurs from a ghost kitchen.

The croque monsieur is a staple sandwich in France that Croqué chef Romuald Guiot would eat with his family. It’s simply made with mostly just cheese and ham.

“It’s something we know and we want it like it is normally. It’s like the cheeseburger,” said Guiot.

It's a dish so classic that it’s hardly ever messed with, until now. Guiot is actually a pastry chef who baked at Michelin starred restaurants on the French Riviera. He then moved to the U.S. to help open some famous bakeries. He never thought he would be cooking a unique spin on something no one dares alter back in France.

One sandwich on the menu has salmon, which Guiot says would never happen back home.

“No, absolutely not. By my formation, I am a pastry chef at the base. I’m not a cook chef at all. That’s the funny part. We have a vision of a cook chef, but we create this much like a pastry,” said Guiot.

His skills come in handy because all of the bread is handmade and gluten free. Owners Nicolas Garcia and Romain Petel wanted each part of this sandwich to be the highest quality. It is supposed to be a simple concept that’s quickly made for children. They decided to take it up a notch by breaking tradition with ingredients you will never find on a croque in France like goat cheese and turkey.

“The croque monsieur is a definition of what comfort food is. It is very filling, very tasty and very flavorful. The crunch of bread and very soft on the inside. We brought it to another level with a different kind of sandwich and different kind of bread. Even in France, you won’t find it, which is cool in my opinion,” said Garcia.

The friends came to the U.S. following their front-of-house careers in various restaurants, but always wanted to have something of their own. The pandemic was the perfect time to open a take-out and delivery concept in a cloud kitchen. The restaurant is fast casual, meets French precision.

Chef Guiot uses Parisian ham specifically flown in and even fills his creations with a classic béchamel made from flour, butter and milk saying, “When you eat it, it’s hot, very generous, something nice to it.”

Not only do they serve the classic croque monsieur, there is a truffle option, vegan and vegetarian creations and even seasonal specials like a play on Thanksgiving with butternut squash and cranberry. 

Another popular choice is the croque madame. It has the traditional ham and cheese center, but this sandwich has an egg placed on top resembling a woman’s hat, hence the name. The egg is called “perfect,” because it is cooked for an hour at a specific temperature to make it runny, but not too runny.

“It’s between a poached egg and a hard egg. It’s very creamy,” said Guiot.

They want to bring nostalgia and joy to Los Angeles through a sandwich they felt wasn’t well represented here.

“Food is already happiness and food bring memories. Technically every moment in your life is attached to some food,” said Guiot.

Croqué is located in the Melrose Food Co. kitchen for pick-up and delivery only.