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A Regional Gourmet Sandwich Chain Has Just Filed For Bankruptcy

The grilled cheese hotspot has been struggling with "growing economic issues."

The number of restaurant chain bankruptcies keeps growing in 2024. From smaller concepts like Portland, Ore.-based Boxer to national brands like Red Lobster, the industry is rife with businesses facing economic struggles. Most recently, an Ohio-based restaurant chain known for its gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches has been added to the unfortunate list.

On June 14, Cleveland-based Melt Bar & Grilled declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company has been losing money and struggling to pay its landlords, vendors, and service providers, according to News 5 Cleveland.

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Melt was founded in 2006 and has four standalone restaurants in Akron, Columbus, Lakewood, and Mentor, Ohio. The chain also has two units at Cleveland's Progressive Field and Case Western Reserve University. Melt's menu includes gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, wings, soups, salads, and more.

melt bar & grilled akron, ohio restaurant
Melt Bar & Grilled

According to court documents, the rising cost of goods and labor, along with the "major shifts and changes in the service industry" have "hurt [Melt's] operations tremendously." The bankruptcy is intended to ensure "immediate survival and long-term future success."

The filing says that Melt's liabilities are $1 million to $10 million, while the chain has about $500,000 to $1 million in assets.

"​​Navigating the restaurant industry in the post-pandemic world with growing economic issues is becoming increasingly difficult… The world and the industry are rapidly changing around us," Matt Fish, Melt's founder, said in a statement shared with Fox 8, adding, "[The bankruptcy filing] gives us the best opportunity to reorganize and rebuild the company."

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Melt was once a fast-growing chain with more than a dozen locations. It was also featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dive's in 2009 and the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food in 2010

The restaurant chain has closed three locations in 2024, most recently shuttering a Cedar Point, Ohio, unit in May.

Melt isn't the only restaurant chain that has declared bankruptcy this month. At the beginning of June, Rubio's Coastal Grill, a fast-casual chain known for its fish tacos, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Factors driving this decision included rising costs, declining customer traffic, and California's recent minimum wage increase for fast-food workers. This is Rubio's second bankruptcy, with the chain filing its first in 2020.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna