The Melt is the second soup-and-sandwich store to open on Telegraph Avenue in the last year, following Toaster Oven, and is one of numerous restaurants in the heavily trafficked area.
The San Francisco-based business now located on the corner of Telegraph and Channing Way offers a limited selection of just five types of grilled cheese sandwiches and soups, according to the eatery’s Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Coletta.
“When you think about it, there are lots of other restaurants,” Colletta said. “We do one thing, and we do it really well — it allows us to make sure that everything on the menu is the best it could be.”
Al Geyer, chair of the Telegraph Merchants Association and owner of Annapurna, said restaurants have traditionally done well on Telegraph and that he is sure The Melt will become a Berkeley hotspot.
“I think it’s a great location — it has been underutilized for years, despite it being the most heavily trafficked zone in Berkeley,” Geyer said. “We are hoping the opening of The Melt will bring students further down Telegraph and be a renaissance for the area.”
Geyer said the area has suffered a significant loss of business ever since the Haste Street fire last November, which burned down two popular eateries on Telegraph and temporarily closed down nearby stores.
“I think there are too many eateries on Telegraph, but it’s all good,” said Cheese n’ Stuff owner Sam Juha, whose store is located between Durant Avenue and Channing Way. Juha said he does not see The Melt as competition, since the two stores serve entirely different menus.
“The Melt does not make the same sandwiches as I do,” he said. “They do soup and cheese sandwiches, and I do mostly meat.”
Customers who purchase grilled cheese sandwiches from the newly opened eatery can choose at the cash register to help fund a local campaign to end world hunger as part of an opt-in program where customers can round their bill up to the nearest dollar, with the difference being donated to FeelGood — an organization that runs various nonprofit delis and whose profits are invested in organizations that aim to eradicate global hunger.
UC Berkeley freshman Katya Abelsky said she and her friend were enticed to try out the new business by the strong smell of freshly made melts.
“It was really good,” Abelsky said. “We are going to have to prevent ourselves from coming here every night. The food was not cheap, but it’s wholesome.”
Coletta acknowledges that almost $5 for a melt or almost $9 for soup is more than some students can afford, but he added that the store’s goal is not to offer the lowest price but the best value.
“We are trying to reach customers who are willing to pay a little extra for good-quality food,” Coletta said.
Contact Aliyah Mohammed at [email protected]