After being closed for eight weeks, Melton’s App & Tap reopened on Dec. 30, and owner Aaron Melton said he and his staff have had trouble keeping up with the number of patrons coming in.
“We’ve reopened with almost our entire old staff,” Melton said. “That being said the staff was big enough to handle the crowds prior to this, but since we’ve reopened I’ve had to hire four new cooks and one more server just to handle the volume.”
In November, the restaurant voluntarily closed its doors to deal with a rodent problem, which Melton said was caused by the neglect of the Pet Supermarket store next door. Melton’s, which has been at 2500 North Decatur Road for more than a decade, had never had a problem before.
According to Melton, rodents had broken through a dividing wall attached to the restaurant and Pet Supermarket. On Nov. 6, after evidence and several sightings of rodents, Melton decided enough was enough. He said when the restaurant closed he turned to the courts for help.
“We were basically trying to see what was being done next door to figure out what we needed to do because it didn’t make sense for us to tear the whole place down and rebuild the place just to find out the problem is coming right back,” Melton said.
Eventually, Melton decided to renovate the entire restaurant, an endeavor he said cost upwards of $200,000. Melton said he brought contractors in and repaired the ceiling, installed a new HVAC system and fixed the breaches from the wall adjoining Pet Supermarket. Now, he is suing Pet Supermarket for part of the repair cost.
“There is an ongoing lawsuit and it’s in the beginning stages and we don’t know too many details on that right now. What we’re trying to focus on is taking care of the customers that come in here,” Melton said.
Officials from Pet Supermarket said they were unable to comment on an ongoing lawsuit.
Melton said all of the repairs created a barrier between Pet Supermarket, the outside and the roof. In addition to the cosmetic work, Melton’s has hired a company to inspect the restaurant each month and make sure it is rodent safe.
Now, Melton said his main concern is keeping his customers happy and helping his cooks manage the lunch rush. He said the incident might have helped bring more patrons into the restaurant who heard about its difficulties on the news.
“We won’t really be able to tell for another month’s time what the real sales levels are but we’re hoping it’s going to settle in higher than we were before we closed down. Right now, it’s ridiculously higher…we’re definitely making up for lost time,” Melton said.
Melton said without his loyal staff and customer base he doubts he would have been able to reopen.
“I didn’t know if everyone was going to turn on us. It went in the opposite direction and it was such an overwhelming show of support,” Melton said. “Within 24 hours I went from thinking that I might have to close down forever, to thinking without a doubt I was going to reopen the doors.”