Spotlight: Melt Bar & Grilled

Learn all about Melt Bar & Grilled here with our spotlight this week! 

What is your first memory of Melt?

Walking into the existing bar that would eventually become the original Melt Bar and Grilled.  I discovered the former owner was selling the business and liquor license.  It was a cold day in January 2006 when I walked through the back door for the first time.  That memory (and smells) will be with me forever.  

How does that compare to what the company has become today?

We could not be farther from that moment if we tried.  The original location was renovated for 7 months before opening on September 22, 2006, as Melt Bar and Grilled.  I and 12 original employees helped to change the restaurant landscape of Lakewood, Cleveland, and Ohio.

The formative years at Melt were a huge learning experience for me and my team. Discovering what would work and stick and what needed to be changed.  The original philosophies, approach to food and service and core beliefs are all still the same.  However, the operation and execution are very much improved.  

Who are some of the coolest people you’ve met since you started?

I have had the opportunity to meet many celebrities, cool random guests and have had many awesome experiences.  However, the greatest people again are the Melt Family (our staff).  I have met some of the nicest, hard-working, dedicated, crazy, passionate, creative and talented people over the last 11 years.  Honestly, they have all been employed in some way by Melt Bar and Grilled.  

What might we be surprised to learn about Melt?

The restaurant was definitely started on a small budget with no safety net.  We were in intense survival mode for many of the first few years.  That caused much stress and sleepless nights at the beginning – however, it did add the element of excitement and drive.  Failure was never an option.

Also, when Melt first opened in September 2006 I had only tested about half the menu.  I wrote the majority of all the recipes in the last 2 weeks before opening for business.  The first time I made half of them was on opening day!  Talk about stress!

How do you think Melt will change within the next 5 years?

We will likely start to expand out of Ohio.  We have been pushing ourselves to become more of a regional restaurant for the last few years.  Expanding into Columbus, Akron & Dayton has gotten us more exposure in Ohio.  However, the next big challenge and change will be expanding into neighboring states in the next 5 years.  

What has been your main goal with Melt?

To create a restaurant utopia for not only myself but my staff and ultimately our guests.  I wanted Melt to mean something special to everyone.  I wanted to create a very unique dining and drinking experience in my hometown of Cleveland.

Why CLE?

Cleveland chose me.  I was born here in 1973 and it has been my home and favorite place on earth since birth.  I would never have considered opening my first business in any other place except greater Cleveland.  To succeed in Cleveland was always my ultimate goal.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

It varies so much.  Some days are spent exclusively in Melt locations and some days are spent exclusively in the office.  Most of the time they are split between the two.  I still work 6-7 days a week and putting in 10-12 hour days.

What has been the most satisfying thing about running Melt?

Knowing all the bills are paid and all the employees paychecks cash each week.  In some ways, we are still in survival mode and may never get out of it… My initial goal was to open a restaurant 100% on my own and on my terms.  When the first guest was served I achieved my goal.  Everything after that has been icing on the Melt cake.

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