It's been nearly four months since Melt Bar & Grilled opened a Mentor location, but a trip there still reveals a packed house on most nights. That's clearly not a problem for owner Matt Fish, who opened his first location in Lakewood about seven years ago.
"It's been a great experience out here — I know I don't have to tell you guys how fantastic your community is," Fish told the audience at the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week. "This is a community I was eyeballing for many years with our growth."
The Chamber invited Fish to the luncheon to discuss restaurant entrepreneurship and how to make it a success. He shared the stage with Joe Longo, who announced that his family would open a new restaurant in Mentor later this year.
Fish also made an announcement of his own — he recently signed a lease in Columbus to open his fifth gourmet grilled cheese restaurant. At that point, his company will have a total of 350 to 360 employees.
One of his key pieces of advice for Chamber members was finding a way to let employees be themselves, regardless the atmosphere.
"I will not ask them to do anything I don't personally do or haven't done in the past," he said. "I treat them like family ... we've retained about 80 percent of our employee base.
"Everybody in my establishment has a say, has a voice. We're very big on people's personalities shining."
That's part of what Fish said her learned during Melt's transition from a "Punk Rock bar to a corporation," he said.
"It's been a learning expereince, an eye-opening experience," Fish said. "I went to culinary school, went to business management school, but they don't prepare you for anything, unfortunately.
"It gives you the foundation and the basis, but you learn in on-the-job training ... I kind of embrace the fact that I've screwed up a lot. I learned from those things."
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GALLERY: Melt Opens Mentor Location