Media Inquiries/Press Kit
Since September 2006, Cleveland’s Melt Bar and Grilled has offered gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and a plethora of beers to please any palate—150 at any given time, plus 20 or so on tap—in a relaxed, comfortable and often full-to-capacity atmosphere. Melt puts a new spin on the same-old bar food and the often predictable selection of brews, and it does so in a setting that provides something for everyone.
Don’t believe it? Well, the menu ranges from simple – the plain grilled cheese sandwich called the “Kindergarten,” which can be dressed up with almost anything you can think of, to the Reuben, a gyro and the immensely popular Parmageddon, which adds pierogies and fresh Napa vodka kraut to the basic grilled cheese. Menu staples are constantly complemented by innovative monthly specials that instantly become favorites.
As for the atmosphere, Melt boasts an incredible array of Ohio photography, sports memorabilia, local art and videos ranging from sporting events to musical performances and cartoons. Maybe that’s why owner Matt Fish describes eating at Melt “truly an experience,” rather than just another restaurant.
Fish, who’s been a chef for nearly two decades in area establishments like Johnny Mango and Fat Fish Blue, opened Melt to specialize in what he terms “comfort food dressed up.” The idea evolved from his lifelong appreciation for the grilled cheese sandwich. “It’s simple, it’s good, it’s filling,” he says, “and it’s easy to keep bread and cheese around.”
His concept evolved over the years—from learning the ropes of restaurant management in the classroom and in the kitchen. Fish coupled his ideas with the many experiences with food he encountered while touring as a musician on the road. “I just let it grow organically,” he says. “There was no scientific method to it.” About four years before opening the first Melt location, that concept was mostly finalized, right down to Melt’s menu.
The deeper layers to the Melt story are almost as simple as that basic grilled cheese sandwich itself. Fish had worked closely with owners of restaurants and loved the feel of a small, family-like staff. Creating that same environment at Melt was right up there with creating awesome food and giving people a truly memorable eating experience.
Following culinary school, Fish was in no hurry to establish his longtime goal—especially as a few more important components had to be assembled. He knew doing it right would take time, and the last thing he wanted was to rush into a plan of action that didn’t match up with his vision and dream. For one, Fish wanted his restaurant to be an active contributor to the local community, not just a place that slaps down a no-frills grilled cheese sandwich and run-of-the-mill beer in front of its customers. He wanted his guests to feel like just that—guests. Furthermore, having fresh, top-quality, local ingredients was important, too. Melt’s suppliers include Cleveland-area butchers, produce suppliers and beverage distributors. And Melt also takes part in a number of local festivals, charitable events and community-building functions.
All of those components make up the “Melt family.” But the most important part is the people. As Fish describes it, that idea encompasses “me, the staff, the customers … we’re all part of Melt.” From the close interaction Melt maintains on its web site, on Facebook (with nearly 64,000 fans, plus another 24,000 likes for individual Melt locations) and Twitter (with more than 14,000 followers) to the “Big Cheese Club” monthly e-mails, the Melt Challenge and Melt tattoos, the restaurant epitomizes the word “engaging. “
“Have fun, be friendly and work hard.” That’s the motto for the Melt staff, so it should come as no surprise that Melt regulars are numerous and visit frequently. From locals who might stop in twice a week to the monthly patrons who drive from as far as an hour away, it’s this last detail that really crystallizes the Melt experience. “I want the customers to meet ‘The Real Person,’ not ‘The Restaurant,’” Fish says. So far, it’s worked. Melt’s original “West Side” location has more than doubled in size, and four additional Melt locations have opened their doors in Ohio as well: Cleveland Heights, Independence, Mentor and Columbus.
Now serving thousands of grilled cheese sandwiches every day—along with all of the other menu options from burgers and salads to starters and desserts, and of course, beers—Fish still manages to meet his goal: to have fun. And others are spreading the word about Melt, which has become nationally known through media and word of mouth.
So what more is in store for Melt? Who’s knows? But Matt Fish can’t wait to find out.