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Issue Date: January 2010

Most Interesting People 2010 - Matt Fish

by Jennifer Bowen, Katie Dragga, Emily Garvey, Lauren Hennen, Christina Ipavec, Brittany Moffat, Kim Schneider, Colleen Smitek, Beth Stallings, Carly Toyzan, Erick Trickey & Jim Vickers; edited by Colleen Smitek
Matt Fish
Restaurateur | 36

Why he’s interesting … He’s the man behind Lakewood’s Melt Bar and Grilled. What started as a neighborhood bar three years ago has morphed into a temple of gourmet grilled cheese. Fish is bringing his monster-sized sandwiches to a second location, Cleveland Heights, this year.

Early influences … Fish worked at Marco Polo’s in Brecksville, Fat Fish Blue downtown and Johnny Mango World Café in Ohio City.

On the power of grilled cheese … Fish often made one for himself at the end of the night. Inevitably, co-workers would ask him to make one for them, too. “I saw the intrigue,” he recalls. “As soon as you say ‘grilled cheese’ and tell someone you’re going to make one for them, their eyes light up.”

Expectations for Melt … “I originally thought I was opening a bar that served really good beer and just happened to have this grilled cheese menu. If I served 100 people in a weekend, that would be really crazy busy.”

Reality … “If we don’t serve close to 600 sandwiches on a Friday or Saturday night, something is wrong.”

Comfort mood … A recent special was a melt stacked with meatloaf, chipotle ketchup, mashed potatoes and Muenster cheese. “I want people to have some sort of memory trigger with what we do. I want them to associate it with something positive or heartwarming.”

Loyal customers … In September, he offered a lifetime 25 percent discount to those with a Melt logo-inspired tattoo. By mid-December, 50 people had been inked. “People are getting way into it,” Fish says. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010 9:59:56 AM by Anonymous
tattoos are dumb.
Thursday, July 22, 2010 4:09:14 PM by Anonymous
Grilled Cheese is good.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:28:01 PM by Anonymous
I wonder if he ever had to wait close to 2 hours for a supposed flavorful sandwich that ended up tasting like heavily buttered toast? I dig the concept, just poorly executed... That or quantity outweighs quality these days at Melt. He should ditch the broom closet kitchen and relocate in Lakewood. People like a gimmick though and seem to flock. I think it's all a bit "cheesy". The swag at the locations, the ads I see Matt in on TV.. Reminds me of Fieri promoting Friday's. All about the buck. Get one's name out there and get rich quick.

Now that I think about it? More powrr to him. Take the blind cattle herding through those doors every night for all their worth... That have nothing to show for their visit but a gut load, 5 hours less to live, and a dumb tattoo the owner won't even get. Go Fish!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 1:09:14 PM by Anonymous
gonna have to agree. the sub-hipster staff who doesnt care if you get served is brutal. doesnt matter what time of the day you walk through the door, they smile and say "its going to be about an hour :-D" prices are not good. i like how they put in a waiting room the size of the dining room for people to sit in and not get served, when they could be serving way more people faster. tattoo'ed goons always defend their favorite grilled cheese place by saying "they have a small kitchen" bad excuse, work harder! melt sucks!
Monday, January 17, 2011 11:13:29 AM by Anonymous
If you even read the article you commented on or met the guy in person, you would see it wasn't his intention to "get rich quick". Melt isn't just about the food, it's about the atmosphere too. If you didn't want to wait 2 hours, you could have left at any time and made your own sandwich at home. If you don't like it, don't go back, but obviously Melt is doing something right (amazing food and a fun atmosphere) to inspire such a following. Sounds like the two of you consider yourselves "too cool" for it, so go somewhere more pretentious and pay 3x as much for poorer quality food. The "tattoo'ed goons" and I will enjoy our Melt.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 4:28:53 PM by Anonymous
It's a bar over a restaurant, so yeah it may take a little bit of time to get your food. Just relax and enjoy a beer. The available brews is massive.
Friday, March 11, 2011 1:49:04 PM by Anonymous
So basically I have to wait two hours for a sandwich if I don't drink beer or alcohol? Sounds lame. Pass. I'll take my pretentious ass somewhere else thanks
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 7:19:13 AM by Anonymous
Try the angry bastard brew. Great place . Great bartenders !! Got me through picket duty for the rite aid workers strike . Strike settled.

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