Sweet Melissa finally opened its doors to John Carroll University students and local residents after postponing opening day from November to March 23. This destination for refreshing mimosas, stacked sandwiches and mouthwatering desserts has taken over North Parke Grille on John Carroll Boulevard.
Sweet Melissa’s other location is in Rocky River, Ohio. All of the pastries located at the restaurant in University Heights are made daily at the Rocky River location. These include a variety of tortes, cheesecakes, fruit tarts, brownies and specialty cakes. The company bakes with organic eggs, butter and cream in all of their pastries. They also offer healthier options including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian meals and desserts. These options are made with rice flour, tofu and butter substitute.
The restaurant also has a coffee bar located next door. The coffee bar serves drinks, including hot chocolate, lattes, Carroll Cappuccinos and Fairmount Mochas. They also have muffins, bagels and scones, along with all of their other sweet treats you can grab on the go. Katie Darley, a barista at Sweet Melissa, recommended their cakes and cheesecake for college students on a budget.
“The triple chocolate cake is to die for. I also love the lemon budino,” Darley said. “It is similar to a cheesecake but light and airy. Both are signature dishes that we always sell out of and only cost five dollars.”
It is clear to Sweet Melissa patrons that a lot of time and work went into the design of the restaurant. It has a chic modern feel with slate gray and white walls. The booths and tables are sleek and finished with dark wood and black leather. The ceiling is adorned with pendant lights that provide the perfect mood lighting. Behind the hostess stand is a wall decorated with signature wines, which leads straight into the kitchen. The restaurant is also quiet and provides the perfect atmosphere to grab a cup of coffee and study.
Sweet Melissa also has a diverse menu. For brunch, they have the classics, including pancakes, eggs and bacon. They also have unique meals, such as corned beef hash, tofu scramble and bagel sandwiches with salmon, eggs, tomatoes, avocado and goat cheese. Their lunch and dinner menus offer a variety of salads, sandwiches, seafood and soup.
Shawn Paul, a local business owner who stopped in on opening day, ordered the fajita wrap. He described it saying, “I thought the wrap was inventive and delicious. The brussel sprouts were fantastic. It was all just the right amount.”
Although Sweet Melissa offers a refreshing change of venue for locals, it does have some problems that could prove to be major issues in the foreseeable future. The menu does not feature a lot of traditional or classic restaurant dishes. When dining at Sweet Melissa, visitors must be willing to have an open mind and try unique dishes such as pistachio encrusted barramundi or brook’s blackened mahimahi tacos.
Other drawbacks to dining at Sweet Melissa are the prices. Most entrées offered for lunch and dinner range anywhere from $12 to $22.
Sweet Melissa also only serves brunch until 11 a.m. This may prove problematic, considering large portions of the restaurant’s customers – college students – don’t wake up until noon on the weekends.
Another problem was the staff. The waiters and waitresses took a while to bring out food and checks. My waitress was unable to answer any of my questions and had to go and get the hostess. The staff seemed confused on prices, the menu and what time the restaurant stopped serving both brunch and lunch.
Freshman Sammy Sloat said that overall, her first experience with Sweet Melissa was very disappointing.
“I thought the place was cute but it wasn’t accommodating for college students. I know that it was opening day, but our waitress didn’t know anything,” she said. “I ordered a hot chocolate and it was the worst hot chocolate I have ever had. It was lukewarm and tasted like watered down chocolate milk. I paid $5 for something I could have made better in my dorm room.”
Sweet Melissa has many improvements to make after opening day. The best option for college students may prove to be the coffee bar, where they can grab a latte and bagel to-go. However, the restaurant’s food is unique and tastes phenomenal. In the upcoming weeks, it will be made clear if Sweet Melissa will be a hit or miss restaurant with the local community.
Freshman Christine Gaab is optimistic of the future of Sweet Melissa.
“I really liked the atmosphere,” she said. “I think that the restaurant has a lot of potential, and hopefully I will go back and they will have worked out all of the kinks.”
The University Heights location is open daily. Brunch is served until 11 a.m., lunch ends at 4 p.m., and dinner is served until closing. Visit www.melissa-rriver.com/locations for more information.