Grillers features more than 60 kinds of beer in bottles, while four taps offer a changing variety of local and regional crafts and microbrews. Pictured with owner Chuck Johnson (right) are Johnny Zambounis, and Chuck’s daughter Alex Johnson.
by Ken McEntee
Chuck Johnson’s motto for his intimate establishment is “Little Kitchen, Big Flavor.”
“Everything we serve is as fresh as it can be,” insists Chuck, owner of Grillers Pub, a Parma watering hole where you can live large on great food, unique beers and hot music. “We don’t have a choice. Our kitchen is 10 by 10. We don’t even have room for a walk-in freezer.”
The compact setting at Grillers is by design. It’s exactly what Chuck was looking for when he bought the place a year and a half ago. Having spent 20 years in the food and beverage business—some of it in impersonal corporate venues—Chuck yearned for his own place that he could define with his creative personality.
“I love interacting with people, and on any given day you don’t know what can happen here,” he says. “Because this is my own place, I can be as creative as I want in the kitchen and get a little crazy. But it’s the quality of our food that keeps people coming in. It’s definitely a step above your everyday bar food. It’s possible that you might find a burger as good as ours, but you definitely won’t find one better.”
That’s because Grillers uses its own special blend of beef, with Chuck’s own unique seasoning. And he has his own Mac and Cheese recipe, too.
“It’s one of our best sellers,” Chuck says. “We make it to order with a special cheese reduction sauce and we add chicken, shrimp or bacon. It is to die for.”
Visit Grillers on Tuesday nights and find out why their tacos were recently featured in Cleveland Magazine. Taco Tuesdays means $2 slow roasted pork carnitas jumbo soft tacos with lettuce, salsa and cheese, with $3 Hornitos margaritas to wash them down. Grillers’ specialty tacos, which change weekly, are truly unique. They can contain anything from chipotle mahi mahi or shrimp tempura with mango salsa and pickled peaches to fried chicken with balsamic cream, and corn and black bean salsa.
“You never know what we’ll come up with next,” Chuck challenges.
He likes to keep beer lovers guessing as well.
Grillers features more than 60 kinds of beer in bottles, while his four taps offer a changing variety of local and regional crafts and microbrews.
Grillers offers a jump start to the weekend every Thursday night. Not only do they serve Chuck’s special chicken paprikash and handmade spaetzles and signature sauce—a big bowl for only $5—but Grillers also hosts a weekly Thursday Jam Night.
“It’s a Who’s Who of Cleveland’s classic rock and blues,” Chuck says. “It’s hosted by Butch Armstrong and Tower City Blues. People love to grab a beer, a bite to eat and kick back and watch it all happen.”
The jam was a long-running Thursday night tradition at another local bar, but was recently discontinued. Chuck jumped at the chance to play host.
“The timing was perfect,” Chuck recalls. “Butch Armstrong came in and said they were looking for a place to keep the tradition alive, and I didn’t even have to think about it. It’s been gangbusters ever since.”
The joint is also jumping with Friday night karaoke and live music on Saturdays.
And if you like barbecue, you may want to drop into Grillers on Sundays. That’s when they fire up the smoker in the back lot. Each week, the specials change and may include items like their special ribs, pulled pork or barbecue chicken.
Grillers also features dart leagues and a comfortable outdoor patio. You can say hello to Chuck, his daughter Alexandria, and Johnny Zambounis at Grillers Pub, located at 5455 State Road, in Parma. You can call them at 216-741-7200, or get more information by visiting www.grillerspub.com. The website includes their full menu and a calendar of events. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on their Facebook page and on Twitter @GrillersPub.