East siders, get ready to loosen your pants. The Cleveland Heights Melt is officially set to open May 21. Is it too early to call dibs on a table?
1. What’s your favorite thing about Cleveland and what drives you nuts? There are so many things about Cleveland that I love. Putting my finger on just one “favorite” thing would be impossible. One of my favorite aspects of spending my life in Cleveland is the small town feeling in a large metropolis. There are so many “big city” advantages and opportunities
in Cleveland but it still remains relatively small and homey. The culture, the diversity, the music scene and restaurant scene are all on par with any other major city. I love that I can’t really go anywhere in the city and not run into a few people that I know. It is definitely a tight knit group
of people that watch out for each other and defend when necessary.
2. If you could make a grilled cheese for anyone in the world, who would it be? This will probably sound sappy but I wish I could make a grilled cheese sandwich for my mother. She lost her battle with breast cancer in 2000. She was a major factor and contributor in the formation of my personality and passion. I owe her so much and I wish she could be here to share my joy and successes. It would also be cool to make some sandwiches for the
original members of KISS. They all must be in full make-up and costume while eating them. Imagine the photo opportunity!
3. How many people have accepted the tattoo discount? As of today (4-9-2010), we have 101 people who have taken the plunge and joined the Melt tattoo family.
4. What sandwich did you try but it just failed? I have been fortunate so far that every new sandwich I have tried has worked and really been a success. I am toying with a few ideas in my head that just might not be possible though. I have wanted to offer a taco type sandwich for a while but all the crazy ways I’ve tried to approach it hasn’t worked yet. I will make it happen someday!
5. Longest anyone has ever waited for a table? The weeks following our Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episode on The Food Network we were on 3-3.5 hour waits on Friday and Saturday nights. That is definitely the longest people have waited.
6. Favorite restaurant in Cleveland and which one do you miss? I would have to say that Johnny Mango is still my favorite restaurant in Cleveland. It was my favorite before I had the opportunity to run their kitchen for 5 years and it still remains my favorite. There are so many
other greats but I still love eating at JM. The restaurant that I miss the most is Lola. I know what you are going to say – what are you talking about, Lola still exists… Sure the Lola on E 4th does exist and is darn good but I really miss the original Lola in Tremont. Years ago myself and a group of kitchen guys that I worked with had a seasonal pilgrimage to Tremont. The menu would change with every season and we would love to see and try the new items. I have since become a vegetarian so it probably would not be as much fun but I still miss the place. It had a coolness that has yet to be matched in Cleveland.
7. Favorite guilty pleasure? Chocolate, Chocolate and Chocolate!
8. Conan or Leno (these questions first went out during the midst of the late night drama)? Between the two, I choose Conan but I would still take Letterman over them both!
9. Last song you downloaded? Believe it or not I don’t like downloading music. I have actually never done it. I still love going to the record store and leafing through the bins and finding some killer jems. I like the cover art, the pictures and the liner notes. I have friends that burn music for me though so it is probably the same thing. Really into Thin Lizzy records lately and the last
record that I bought was a used copy of the first Baroness record from My Mind’s Eye Records in Lakewood.
10. What TV show do you never miss? I have a standing date with my awesome girlfriend every Thursday night to watch Project Runway on Lifetime. She sucked me into it and now I am
totally hooked. I think I am into it more than she is!
11. Where did you grow up and what’s your favorite meal from your childhood? I have lived in northeast Ohio my whole life spending the majority of my formative years in Parma. One of my favorite meals was my mother’s macaroni & cheese. She made it from scratch and always baked it extra long so the top would get all toasted. She also made these amazing homemade croutons that covered the entire top. Damn, I am getting hungry!
12. Worst part about owning a restaurant? That is a tough question because I really love what I do. But I would say the daily stresses that come along with ownership are the worst part. I love the challenges but sometimes when you have those days when EVERYTHING seems to go wrong it can be a bit overwhelming.
13. Last meal on earth? I am a sucker for really killer authentic Italian food. The richer, saucier and cheesier the better. My last meal would be restaurant hopping in Little Italy and literally eating myself to death.
14. What was your first job and what would you be doing if you weren’t in the restaurant business? My first job was delivering the PD as a kid in my neighborhood. If I was not in the restaurant business I would probably be working with people somehow. I originally started college with the intention of becoming a grade school teacher. I think rock star would be a pretty nice profession to possibly get into…
15. Aside from opening a Cleveland Heights location, what’s next for Melt? I want to concentrate on the Cleveland Heights location for 6-12 months and hopefully ensure its success and longevity. Hire and train the correct people to take it over and continue its (hopeful) success. I would like to then start to work on Melt #3 and possibly #4 in the greater Cleveland area. If that can prove to be successful then I would like to grow regionally.