Today we’d like to introduce you to Ralph Bower, CEO of The Melt.
Ralph, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Before my restaurant career began, I attended and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Navy as an officer on the U.S.S. Dalghren. Soon after I became Admiral’s assistant in the Pentagon. When it was time to go back out to sea on the U.S.S. Dalghren when I was newly married with a one-year-old. Instantly, I knew that I couldn’t leave my wife and son, so I made the decision to pursue a career close to home.
I saw a newspaper ad noting that General Managers at Domino’s Pizza earned wages as high as my Admiral in the Pentagon, and I knew that it was a good place to start.
Eventually, I worked my way up through the Domino’s franchise management system and learned how much I loved the retail food industry. The opportunity to grow within the industry is boundless from an hourly team member to management, to CEO. This passion and dedication led me through a 30-year career with a variety of restaurant corporations, including Pei Wei, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Yum! Brands, Inc., KFC Corporation, and now The Melt as CEO.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I first started Domino’s management program, I was only making $4.75 an hour, with a family to provide for! My parents thought I was crazy and did not support my career change, but my passion for food kept me motivated.
The Melt – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Melt is a fast-casual eatery with a mission of delivering an “I Love It Here” experience to each and every guest. We’re headquartered in San Francisco with locations throughout California, and we’re known for serving all things melted. Our menu of all-American favorites features handcrafted grilled cheeses, MeltBurgers made from a custom blend of Angus and Wagyu beef, homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, crispy fries, and handspun milkshakes. Our entire menu is made with 100% all-natural ingredients—all void of hydrogenated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
I’m extremely proud of our high-quality standards and our commitment to serving food made with only all-natural ingredients. This has been a core component of our mission since the inception of The Melt, and it’s something that we were doing long before it became popular. I’m thrilled that it’s become the norm for restaurants, and I’m proud to say that we were paving the way from the beginning.
What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
Growing up in New Orleans, I had a passion for flight, but my vision exams determined that I could never be a fighter pilot. Now I get to oversee The Melt taking flight, and playing a role in building up this brand is very rewarding.