Popular sandwich chain made famous by Diners, Drive-ins and Dives files for bankruptcy

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After years of growth and then downsizing, a gourmet sandwich chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Renowned Melt Bar and Grilled, with six locations left in Ohio, has warned it is struggling to pay its landlords and suppliers.

After being founded in 2006, it grew to a 14 outlets in the state and by 2013 it was winning industry awards for its fancy grilled cheese sandwiches and craft beers.

Melt Bar and founder Matt Fish featured on inconic Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show with Guy Fieri on Food Network.

Fish also appeared alongside Happy Days actor Henry Winkler on Fox 8 News, one of his many appearances in local media.

Melt Bar and Grilled owner Matt Fish  on Fox 8 News with actor Henry Winkler (left) who played The Fonz in TV show Happy Days

Melt Bar and Grilled owner Matt Fish  on Fox 8 News with actor Henry Winkler (left) who played The Fonz in TV show Happy Days

Melt Bar & Grilled and its owner Matt Fish (right) featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with its famous host Guy Fieri

Melt Bar & Grilled and its owner Matt Fish (right) featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with its famous host Guy Fieri

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But on Friday, the Melt Bar filed for bankrupcty.

It is the latest restaurant chain to struggle to cope with the aftershocks of the pandemic, which caused lobor issues, inflation and a change to how Americans eat out.

Melt Bar had shut down its Cedar Point location, east of Cleveland, in May, after closing five others recently too.

Court documents show Melt Bar was badly impacted by rising costs of ingredients and labor. Restructuring will 'ensure its immediate survival and long-term future success.'

Melt remains open in Lakewood - the original location - Mentor, Akron and Columbus.

It also has satellite spots at Case Western Reserve University and Progressive Field in Cleveland

Owner Matt Fish said: 'Navigating the restaurant industry in the post-pandemic world with growing economic issues is becoming more and more difficult.

'The world and the industry are rapidly changing around us,' he continues.

'We realized in early 2023, a smaller restaurant group would be much better for us to manage regarding operations and guest experience, while setting ourselves up for future success.'

He added: 'We have not only survived but have thrived for almost 18 years in the Cleveland restaurant scene.

'I refuse to let the company I have put my entire life into for the past nearly two decades end. I sincerely hope our staff, friends and loyal guests will continue to support us through this difficult decision and transition. I am truly excited for what the future will bring to Melt Bar and Grilled.'

Problems for Melt first arose in November 2020 - a tough time for many small chains after almost a year of pandemic-related closures - when the company shut the Cleveland Heights location.

Melt's outlet in Columbus' Short North neighborhood went in 2022, then the Canton and Dayton restaurants both in January 2023.

Melt Bar & Grilled once had 14 outlets but is now down to four, but owner Matt Fish is still confident the hugely popular chain has a future

Melt Bar & Grilled once had 14 outlets but is now down to four, but owner Matt Fish is still confident the hugely popular chain has a future

One of Melt Bar & Grilled famous sandwiches

One of Melt Bar & Grilled famous sandwiches

Earlier this year, the Avon branch shut, followed by one in Independence and then in May the satellite spot in Cedar Point.

Melt remains open in Lakewood - the original location - Mentor, Akron and Columbus.

It also has satellite spots at Case Western Reserve University and Progressive Field in Cleveland.

In 2013, Melt Bar was named a Breakout Brand by respected trade outlet Nation's Restaurant News.

Plus magazine Esquire described its 'Parmageddon' - a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with a pierogi, sauteed onions and Napa vodka kraut - as one of its 'Best Sandwiches in America.'

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