Dining trends come and go — but the burger endures. It graces nearly every menu in Cleveland’s longest-lasting restaurants, but few inspire drooling dreams of ecstasy like the burger at Hecks of Ohio City, which opened in 1954. No matter what you throw on it — eggs, braised short rib or brie — the expertly blended beef patty shines through. After Fadi Daoud purchased the historic Ohio City restaurant in 2005, the iconic burger even survived a total menu rehaul when the kitchen began making everything 100% from-scratch. Here, Daoud tells us why the dish lives on.
In Cleveland, people are always hunting for good burgers. It’s not just a safe item on a menu — it’s an American classic, like pizza in Italy. People will judge you on your burger even if you’re not a burger place. When you say “Hecks,” people think of a good burger. We’ve been voted best burger in Cleveland. We’ve been featured on the Food Network. It’s our most-selling dish. But food is like fashion — things change.
People’s taste buds change. We needed to meet the requests of the people who have been coming for 40 or 50 years, but also the young millennial or professional who just moved to the neighborhood. People understand what they’re eating, and they’re looking for more. With everything people put on them these days, the burger is not just a sandwich anymore. It’s an entree. So 10 years ago, we switched to a grass-fed beef, locally grown.
People taste the difference. I asked someone once, “What’s so different about a Hecks burger?” She told me, “When you taste it, you don’t know what it is, but you just want to come back and get more.” It’s hard to define, but our burger is something no one can touch. And it’s only getting better. I think that’s what people are looking for. — as told to Dillon Stewart
When You Go: Hecks, 2927 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, 216-861-5464; 35514 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-937-3200, heckscafe.com
Read More: Click here to read the full list of 18 Classic Cleveland Restaurants.