Gastropubs provide new elements of dining, create laid-back environment

While places like Buffalo Wild Wings and other sports bars have their appeal, sophomore Emily Skibski acknowledges a need for eateries of a different sort.

“I don’t really watch sports,” she said. “Not everybody likes that loud sports atmosphere.”

An answer to these louder establishments may be coming in the form of “gastropubs,” a term that to many is unfamiliar.

At its most basic level, a gastropub is a relaxed bar setting that features both high-end food and drinks, such as craft beer.

This sort of laid-back atmosphere is what defines a gastropub, said Ammar Mufleh, owner of The Melt Shoppe downtown. He emphasized the importance of both good food and good drinks, but said the combination is what matters.

“It’s this idea of developing a synergy between the drink and the eats,” Mufleh said.

Gastropubs, according to Mufleh, are a phenomenon that’s been around for a while, but has only recently made its way into the area.

“It’s something that has really been a mainstay in other parts of the country,” Mufleh said.

Higher-end restaurants and bars have been gaining traction in the U.S. lately.

Mufleh said his time living in other cities, and observing and participating in gastropub scenes in other cities, helped inspire The Melt Shoppe.

“Part of my ideas come from my experience in Chicago on the north side,” Mufleh said. “[And] in Austin, which has an amazing scene for culinary, artistic, musical— just amazing, amazing outlets for that.”

A gastropub can have any number of angles or draws. Social., a gastropub in Perrysburg, specializes in a clean modern style, while Bar145 in Toledo has an emphasis on live music. While The Melt Shoppe sports a Prohibition-style feel to attract customers, Dave Garlock, floor manager for Social., said they strive for a more baseline gastropub feel.

“The theme itself is honestly just ‘gastropub’ in itself,” Garlock said. “Gastropub by definition is a pub that specializes in high quality food, and I think we definitely execute that portion of it.”

Above all, Garlock said Social. strives to serve high quality food, regardless of what culture it originated from.

“We have Asian influence, Mexican, Americana,” he said. “It really just depends on what we think is good.”

Junior Conor Mutter said he supports restaurants that bring new experiences to downtown.

“[It] brings more business to the community, so I don’t see any negative,” he said.

While Mufleh said he was excited about using the “gastropub” branding, he still had one thing in mind: the experience.

“I’m a big fan of good food [and] reasonable prices aligned with nice spirits,” Mufleh said. “I’ve always been interested in enjoying an environment that is relaxing, allows you to enjoy conversation with your friends or family where you’re not bombarded by really loud music.”