Unique and intimate, the fondue specialist also is a family restaurant.
Back in 1975, at the height of the “fondue explosion”, the Melting Pot opened in Maitland. It didn’t take long for three enterprising brothers, Mark, Mike and Bob Johnston, to realize that much could be made of restaurants of its nature – intimate and unique – that ranged far beyond the fad of the moment. So they pooled their money, opened a Melting Pot in Tallahassee.
By 1985, they had purchased all rights to the Melting Pot brand. And today the chain has nearly 150 locations in 37 states, including the highly successful restaurant at The Avenue Viera.
“With the Johnston brothers, it was a family restaurant and this also truly is a family restaurant,” says manager Jessica O’Hagan, whose brother, Bernard Letzinger, owns the franchise here and whose other family members serve as managers at the venue. “People don’t realize that our restaurant is individually owned and operated, which plays an important role in getting that family feel.
“We try to provide the perfect dining experience for people who want to spend some time…over a really nice meal. It’s unique, not just because of our food, but because of the ambiance and that it’s not a run-in-run-out atmosphere. The average meal here probably lasts about two hours.”
The popular “Big Nights Out” are very big indeed at Melting Pot Viera. They are all-inclusive, with four courses (cheese fondue; salad; meat, seafood and pasta fondue; and chocolate dessert fondue) with three choices of content. “It’s a great way for people who have never dined here to experience a little of everything about Melting Pot,” O’Hagan says.
“We’re a great place for a special occasion. We call part of our restaurant ‘Lovers’ Lane’ because it has intimate dining tables for two people, blocked off so that the only other person you see or hear from is your server.”
“The only thing we ask is that people make reservations. People continue to come to the Melting Pot and we fill up pretty quickly. That’s not a bad thing at all.”
I. Things people may not realize about the Melting Pot in The Avenue Viera
— You don’t have to order a package meal, but can come in and have cheese fondue, salad and/or chocolate fondue. “A lot of people just come for dessert,” manager Jessica O’Hagan says.
— The Melting Pot has one of the most popular martini bars in the area, thanks to longtime area bartender Ravenel Gianiliana, whose drink creations have been honored nationwide. He’s the creator of the famed “Love” martini.
— The Melting Pot’s patio-bar area also offers a menu of “small plates” and appetizers as well as fondues.
— The Melting Pot offers a number of specials – Happy Hour is 4 to 6 p.m. daily, “Martini Nights” take place Tuesdays. Kids eat free every Thursday; people in the service industries (police, fire, military) get a 30 percent discount Wednesdays. For additional information, go to www.meltingpot.com
II. Five desserts fondues you can get at the Melting Pot in The Avenue Viera:
1. The Original: milk chocolate swirled with peanut butter
2. DiSaronno Meltdown: white chocolate swirled with amaretto, flambéed at the table
3. Chocolate S’mores: milk chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers, flambéed.
4. Yin and Yang: Half dark chocolate, half white chocolate
5. Special Event: Pick your own chocolate and mix it with your choice of liqueurs
The Melting Pot:
2230 Town Center Ave., Suite 101, The Avenue Viera
Hours: 1 to 9 p.m. Sundays; 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 4 to midnight Tuesdays; 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays; 1 p.m. to midnight Saturdays