We Sneak In The Back Door At Melt For A Peek And Talk With Cleveland Restaurant Royalty, Matt Fish

The man himself, Matt Fish, at the new back door.

Perhaps no single business or restaurant has done more for building the Lakewood brand and our name as a destination for food and entertainment than Matt Fish’s Melt Restaurant.

Not only is it the go-to place in the city with its unique menu, but Matt Fish and his team are just promotional machines. From the moment Matt put his twist on Melted Cheese in what was Bud’s White Door, it has become the darling of the Food Network, Cooking Network, Playboy Magazine, Esquire Magazine, Cleveland Magazine, TV, Radio and on and on and on.

Whenever I have a friend or client stopping in Lakewood, no matter where they are from they always have one request, “Can we go to Melt?” As I mentioned it has become a nationwide obsession, and the crown jewel in Foodwood. For decades it was Pier W and their upscale dining, (see article next page) but now Melt is the one.

Matt was just added to the very prestigious group of Cleveland Culinary Royalty this year by Noelle Celeste’s “Cleveland Eats” publication. And it is well deserved.

Starting from a small but new idea in a tiny bar, he quickly expanded next door, and has reluctantly expanded the concept to 13 locations. I say reluctantly because when he first opened he had no desire to do anything but grow and get better in Lakewood. But anything this good with this amount of press brings on imitators and wannabees. So Matt bit the bullet, and has taken this award-winning concept on the road. 

Never one to rest on his laurels, this rock drummer turned chef with wife and soon to be mother Jessica on his arm has increased not just the number of stores but even dabbles in publishing. Recently he entered the book world with artist/publisher Jake Kelly/Publishing 1984, creating a must-have coffee table book with longtime poster and former Lakewoodite artist John Greiner. The best seller is called, “Sandwich Anarchy;" it was featured last year as a must-buy Christmas gift for anyone who loves Melt, or great graphics.

Which brings us to why we are writing this piece. Taking a breath, and sitting in the restaurant, Matt decided it was time to go back to the beginning, the original Melt Restaurant in the heart of Lakewood, a city and community he loves. “When we started this we never thought it would get this big. It blew up. Before we knew it, there were long waits for tables, and then people trying to copy our menu. So I started the other Melts, which now feature 13 places you can get Melt sandwiches including Jacob’s Field and Cedar Point. I kind of got sidetracked.” He  shook his head as he looked back over the past 10 years. “So I came back to Lakewood, and built a better kitchen, nicer bathrooms, and a better plan. I really did it for the community that gave it the start, and my staff and friends.” Seating has not increased, but it features a better kitchen and a nicer layout for the customers. Which should make the “entire experience nicer for staff and patrons."

Matt promises to continue to serve the food we have all come to love. I then walked in the back door with my camera to take a sneak peek while the build-out was happening.

It will be open again this Friday.
Melt is at:
14718 Detroit Avenue
Sunday - Thursday 11am - 10pm
Friday & Saturday 11am - 11pm

Jim O'Bryan

Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.

Read More on Foodwood©
Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:39 PM, 05.01.2018