True Life: Owner of Melt Bar & Grilled Got His Start at Tri-C

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By: Daniela Cacho, West Campus Writer

The traditional grilled cheese sandwich has slipped into mediocrity and inasmuch rendered a relic in the realm of dining, that is until “Melt Bar & Grilled” opened its doors in Lakewood, Ohio. Even the Columbus area is not immune to this trend and it can be felt northward from there through the Akron/Canton area and the whole of Cleveland. In fact, “The Food Network” has made mention of this staples decline. “Melt Bar & Grilled” gives a delicious twist on a well-known American meal and has garnered a robust clientele since it first opened in September 2006.

“Melt Bar & Grilled” has eye popping, mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches on their menu (printed on backs of vinyl covers) such as the Lake Erie Monster (dedicated to a legend myth and or hockey team), Parmageddon (the genius of putting  pierogies between two slices of bread), and Peanut Butter & Banana (the childhood favorite) just to name a few of the creative grilled cheese options. Melt Bar and Grilled has been recognized as having one of the best sandwiches in America and it was all created by Tri-C graduate, Matt Fish.

Matt Fish started his education at Tri-C Western Campus, which he then transferred to the Metropolitan Campus in pursuit of majoring in Culinary Arts – Hospitality Management. After completing his coursework, he then earned his degree in 1997. Matt did not originally see his future going where he took it. At first, he saw himself becoming an elementary school teacher. He had always enjoyed being around people, but it was not until he got a job at a restaurant in Parma that he was inspired to become a restaurateur. “Once I stumbled into the restaurant world I fell in love with it, like the light bulb went off and the stars aligned and I said, oh okay, I’ve always wanted to do something. I’ve always wanted to own my own thing so now it’s going to be a bar and a restaurant.”

Tri-C was paramount in helping Matt Fish reach his goals, with their affordable tuition costs and nurturing faculty. “I was honest with myself, I said look, I want to go to college. I want to learn. I want to do something I just don’t know what it’s going to be. That’s why I decided to take general classes that I knew would transfer anywhere.” Soon after graduating he began the arduous task of opening a restaurant and his dedication has never faltered since.

Fish enjoyed attending Tri-C and even with the small class ratios which proved to be an advantage rather than a hindrance. He learned much more than was in the curriculum though, such as soft-skills and life-skills. “Especially for the hospitality management classes.” Fish expresses. “I’ve always preached how well it’s operated. How great the education is. How great the instructors are. How small the class sizes are. You get such personal attention.” Matt still visits his past culinary classes from time to time to talk about the reward that comes from hard work, and how fulfilling it is owning your own restaurant.

There will soon be a total of nine “Melt Bar and Grilled” restaurants. Dayton and Sandusky (Cedar Point) will soon have their share of interestingly tasty grilled cheese sandwiches by the beginning of summer 2017. All of this put together by the works of Matt Fish a Cuyahoga Community College graduate. Where there was once a deficit in regards to this tasty staple, and that void is now being filled with a plethora of locations to sate desires for a classic meal.

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