The Melting Pot has 160 seats, but you’d never know it—it’s crisscrossed by so many nooks and crannies that each table feels intimate and unique. And if those aren’t private enough for you, specifically request a table on “lovers’ lane”—a particularly secluded strip of small booths.
Owners Mark and Lisa Shaw fell in love thirteen years ago at a Melting Pot in Rockville, Maryland. He was a Silicon Valley lawyer and she was in finance, but about three years ago they decided to move back to Michigan to be closer to his parents, who live near Ann Arbor. They opened a Melting Pot in Grand Rapids and put in a bid for an Ann Arbor franchise.
The much-delayed debut of the Ann Arbor Melting Pot isn’t a subject the Shaws like to discuss. They reluctantly explain that the city building department seized on a particularly hard-line reading of an ambiguous section of the International Mechanical Code to insist that each table, as a functioning cooktop, should have its own ventilation hood. Rather than duking it out in a legal arena, the Shaws chose to wait for a change in the code. That came through in September and allowed them to open.