Odds are if you live in or around the Akron/Cleveland area of good ol’ Ohio you have probably heard of a little place called Melt Bar & Grilled (aka Melt). Honestly though if you have no idea of this Melt I speak of you might live inside a box and do not read this blog very often. As many readers of BHP know, I have a slight obsession with the establishment.
How obsessed you ask? Well not only to I try and make it there once a month but I also am one of those folk who prove their undying love for Melt by sporting a Melt tattoo (25% off for life yo). I even have gone so far as to attend a filming of a Man vs. Food episode at the Lakewood, OH location just a couple months back and will enjoy watching myself scream/cheer at Adam Richman as he took on the Melt challenge. The episode will be showing sometime this summer on the Travel Channel as the all new season is starting on June 16th.
I love the place and I can honestly say I am not the only one. With a 2+ hour wait on most days just to be seated to grab a delicious bite to eat, I would say that most folk in this neck of the woods have at one time enjoyed some Melt. The gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, owned and operated by Matt Fish, recently spawned (pun intended) across Cleveland for a second location in Cleveland Hts.
This little babble blog is about that new location.
A few weeks back I had received a piece of mail with the Melt logo on it. Having no idea what it was I opened it up and there it was, an invitation to a pre-grand opening to the new location. I seriously felt like Charlie from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory as this was my “golden ticket” to a special event. I was invited to check out the new location before the public and might have been a little excited about it.
So about a week later I headed out to Cleveland Hts. to check out the new eatery. I had heard bits and pieces about the location and the extent of the renovations it took to turn what used to be the Rhythm Room (RIP) at one time into the new Melt.
Anyone remember that place?
The Rhythm Room was less of a room and more of a a hole-in-the-floor bar. When you walked in the bar there was a large opening that peered down into the basement where the stage was. There is more to that of course with rails and a stairwell but it was always interesting to see a punk show there. You would either cram in the basement or hang out above and lean on the rails to watch the shows.
I miss that place a lot and have some fond memories thanks to my good friends who used to be in the “Clevland” punk rock band The Narcoleptics x5. I used to hang out there a lot actually and saw my fair share of local independent punk acts as well as even caught The Unseen there. Sadly the place stopped hosting punk shows and morphed into a reggae club before finally calling it quits.
Enter Matt Fish and his idea to expand his amazing creation. I am not sure how or why he chose the location but I am in the works of interviewing him so that will be told at a later time. Knowing though on what the place used to look like I was highly curious to see how he was going to pull it off.
Walking up to the building nested on the corner of Cedar and South Taylor I started having mini flashbacks of fun times with my pals usually fueled by cheap beer but it all stopped as soon as I looked up and saw the giant Melt sign located just above the entrance. Imagine if you would a giant grilled cheese and crossbones… All I could do was smile as I opened the doors and made my way in.
I was wowed by what I saw. The place looked nothing like the Rhythm Room and was completely renovated. There was a large bar in the center of the building that spanned over where the hole-in-the-floor used to be. Retro decor graced the walls of the much larger new restaurant including a giant Dairy Queen sign on the wall over by where I sat. There were arcade signs incorporated into the liquor racks, old advertisements, and of course random plastic light up pumpkins and other holiday items that make Melt so unique over many other places. I even spotted some broken bottle stained glass windows over the entrance – sounds crazy unless you have seen them at the Lakewood location. Flat screen TVs hung about showed The Goonies while music blasted from a very impressive PA system.
The place looked like the Lakewood Melt in a sense but was much larger and just…new. Staff ran around the floors seating other special guests and basically getting a preview for what they were hired for. With in about 20 minutes of me being there the place was packed. It was no surprise to me at all and I can see this being a trend from here on out.
In the back left corner at the pick-up window I could see that Matt Fish in the kitchen area showing all of the new cooks how it was done helping prepare countless amounts of various grilled cheeses. Plate after plate was picked up by the waiters and waitresses and delivered to happy customers.
I wanted to try something new on the menu but went to my default and grabbed a Big Popper. I lied to myself and said it was healthy for me. There is nothing good for you about a jalapeno grilled cheese sandwich that is battered and then deep fried other than the guilty pleasure and the taste for that matter. The fries and cole slaw too make it a pretty kick ass meal.
As I destroyed the sandwich I saw some familiar faces some of who were staff from Lakewood that came out to help train and others who were at the Man vs. Food event. As if I was not full enough I decided to try the fried Twinkie for dessert and must say…amazing. I left that place a full and happy man…maybe a little too full.
If you live in the Cleveland area you really have no excuse to hit up a Melt Bar & Grilled and try one of their gourmet grilled cheeses. The new Cleveland Hts. location is located on the corner of Cedar Ave. and South Taylor Rd. Parking is available on the streets or in a small metered area that is free after 6pm if I am not mistaken. If you are not from the area and are worried you might not be able to find the restaurant, just look for the giant Melt sign at the corner. You can not miss it.