If you asked me six years ago if I thought I would be sitting in a Melt Bar & Grilled with hundreds of people who share the same love and passion for carbs and cheese to the point they dedicated a part of their skin to showcase it, I probably would have believed you.
Back in 2009, Melt’s founder and creator, Matt Fish, announced a fun promotion of sorts: Get a Melt tattoo and receive 25% off of your Melt purchase for life.
My question to myself immediately was, “am I bold enough to get a permanent coupon?” The answer was a quick “yes.”
Being the type of guy who acts now and asks later, I set up an appointment as soon as I could with my favorite tattoo artist, Mr. Ronnie Castro, and got a hand-sized Melt-inspired tattoo right on my forearm for the world to see.
Initially, I wanted to take the NOFX Never Trust a Hippie album cover and alter Jesus to be holding a grilled cheese, but my tattoo artist was thinking of something a little bit more traditional. Sometimes I wish would have gone with what I initially wanted, but I do love what he came up with:
I waited for my tattoo to heal fully before making it up to the Lakewood location to sign up for the tattoo club causing my membership number to increase some. For anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo, I am sure you can understand why I waited. No one wanted to see a scabby mess, especially when it is going to be showcased on the restaurant’s Melt Tattoo Family website page.
I was presented with tattoo member #47. At least I made it into the top 50, right?
Hell, this tattoo is what got me my in to the Cleveland Man vs. Food episode:
As of today, there are over 500 members. Talk about dedication folks. With locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and most recently in Akron, it only makes sense that this one time promotion has turned into a following of sorts.
Last night, Fish and crew wanted to show their appreciation and love to all of the Melt Tattoo Family members by hosting the first ever Melt Tattoo Family Reunion.
Open to the first 200 members (plus 1 guest) to RSVP, the private event had a free appetizer buffet, photo booth, opportunity to be filmed for an upcoming Melt documentary, and best of all, a one-of-a-kind Derek Hess print. They also offered a healthy discount on drinks and food too.
Arriving just after the event’s start, I waited in a decent sized line to get checked in and secure my Hess poster (photo to follow once I take one, it is a sweet print).
From there, I snagged some free eats and found a spot up at the bar to camp out at. The free eats I speak of were beyond generous-sized offerings and consisted of most of the appetizer menu items including fried pickles, mac and cheese bites, and even s’mores bread pudding.
As I waited for my Dude Abides sandwich, I sipped on a couple of Melt City Lights and just looked at all of the people in there. Everyone was happy, having a good time, and all had something in common with me. They all felt inspired enough to put something permanent on their skin not only to achieve a discount, but to show support to a man and the company he created.
I started up a conversation with a couple sitting by me just to hear their story. They were married for 25 years, loved Melt, and the husband got a tattoo and the wife plans on one soon. They found Melt when they were looking for a restaurant in Cleveland with a good beer list. They found the beer list that intrigued them and then they found the food. Hailing from Canton, the couple drives to the Independence location frequently to enjoy a meal before having a night out and prefer it over the new Melt in Akron.
Before heading out, I decided to get my ugly mug on camera for the documentary they were filming. It was kind of cool to be able to stand there and just explain why I got the tattoo and what it means to be in a family like this.
Fish and I chatted a few times throughout the night and he just looked so happy. Can you blame him? His comfort food idea has turned into a cheesy empire with thousands of adorning fans.
Tattooed or not, people love what Fish has built up over the last 10 years. Here’s to 10 more years of cheesy goodness.