Saucy new restaurant: The Melting Pot brings fondue dining to Tacoma

A building that once housed a sheet-metal plant is now home to one of the more interesting dining experiences in Tacoma.

The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant located at 2121 Pacific Ave., opened for business on June 26.

The restaurant occupies a unique niche in the South Sound.

“There are not many fondue restaurants around,” said Deserae Shipman, assistant general manager. “It was popular in the 70s.”

Today, fondue dining is something people tend to do at home, rather than at a restaurants, Shipman explained.

For those who missed out on the 1970s fad or are otherwise unclear on exactly what fondue is, fondue is a dish that consists of small pieces of food, such as meat or fruit, cooked in or dipped into a hot liquid, such as melted cheese or chocolate.

Customers at The Melting Pot can enjoy a four-course meal that includes participation in preparing the meal, with diners cooking their food on hot plates in each table.

Hungry patrons can dine on beef, boneless chicken breast, duck, lobster, shrimp, scallops and salmon, including cheese fondues, breads, vegetables and salads.

Dessert includes fruit and chocolate fondues.

Opening a restaurant in the midst of heavy construction along Pacific Avenue as part of the Tacoma Link light rail system was a concern, Shipman confessed.

“Actually, we’ve done really well,” she said of business three weeks since opening. “People are still willing to come out.”

Reservations account for about 95 percent of business, she said.

“It’s a lengthy dining experience,” Shipman said.

With the average stay lasting about two hours, that explains why reservations make up the vast majority of business, she said.

Handling all that business are about 50 employees in all departments, she said, as well as four managers.

The average cost per person of eating at The Melting Pot is $40, she said.

The Melting Pot is open only for dinner, although the banquet rooms of the two-floor, 8000-square-foot brick eatery can be rented during the day.

The building is owned by Michael Bartlet of Oakland, Calif.

Issaquah architect Nick Fisher designed and oversaw modifications to the former sheet-metal plant.

Lane Scelzi, a native of Puyallup, owns the restaurant.

He is also owner of the popular The Melting Pot in Seattle’s lower Queen Ann neighborhood, which opened in 1998.

Scelzi is currently looking into the possibility of opening a The Melting Pot in Bellevue.

The Melting Pot in Tacoma is open Monday through Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., with the lounge open from 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dining, with the lounge open from 4 p.m. to midnight; and on Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Melting Pot can be reached at 253/535-3939.

Shipman urged customers to bring their appetites.

“You definitely do not leave hungry,” she said.