Since purchasing Heck’s Café
a few years back, Fadi Daoud has been on a roll. Daoud inherited a celebrated local institution that had floundered in recent years. In its prime, the Heck’s brand was synonymous with burger royalty, with thriving outposts in Woodmere and Rocky River. By the time he took over, however, there was just the mother ship in Ohio City, and business there was nowhere near the level it had once been.
But since that time, Daoud both improved and expanded the decades-old Ohio City shop (2927 Bridge Ave., 216-861-5464, heckscafe.com). He brought in experienced culinary talent, who immediately upgraded the quality of the menu, including the gourmet burgers, which were switched to local grass-fed, custom-blended beef from Blue Ribbon. The owner next expanded into an adjacent property, adding a much-needed bar and enlarged dining area.
Next for the burger entrepreneur was a second location, which opened a few weeks back in Avon (35514 Detroit Rd., 440-937-3200, heckscafe.com). His neighbors in the new development include Mitchell’s Ice Cream and Cambria Hotel.
“Avon is really, really going on fire,” he says. “There’s so much going on over here.”
We’ll take his word on that, but the truth is, the Heck’s brand once again is on the rise. The far west side spot is larger than the Ohio City location, measuring in at 4,300 square feet and seating 160 diners indoors and out. Daoud once again has brought in an experienced chef, this time Jerod Bergen, formerly of Flour and Dante, to lead the way forward.
“He’s the opening chef here in Avon," Daoud says of Bergen. "But he’ll eventually move [all shops] forward from there.”
For now, diners in Avon will enjoy the same menu as their counterparts in Ohio City. That means baked brie, crab cakes and tuna nachos to start, and half-pound burgers, mushroom ravioli and blackened salmon for dinner. But in the coming months, both locations will undergo seasonal adjustments that will net lighter, fresher and more creative fare, promises Daoud. Recent specials like chicken Milanese and ribeye steak with yakitori steak sauce and veggie fried rice offer hints at what’s to come.
Of course, the goal is to adjust with the times without alienating longtime fans, says Daoud.
“It’s still Heck’s; we have to keep the staples there.”
In addition to planned (but not yet finalized) new locations, Heck’s will be featured on an upcoming episode of “Burgers, Brew and 'Que,” the new Food Network show hosted by Cleveland’s own Michael Symon. Also likely to be featured on that program are Flying Fig, Great Lakes Brewing, Butcher and the Brewer and Oak & Embers.