GLENDALE, WIS (CBS 58) – On North Port Washington Road, you’ll find a Glendale staple. Solly grid.
Inside you’ll find owner Glenn Fieber. He says the business started with his father-in-law in 1936.
“Solly opened his little cafe on 3rd Street or Green Bay Ave or Martin Luther King Ave or Drive Now. He kept going until 1971 and in 1971 he closed the business on the 3rd street and moved here to Glendale I then bought my mother’s business in 1993 The city of Glendale came to me in the year 2000 and they asked if I would stay if they renovated everything the block. They helped us move the building here and helped us remodel it a bit and here we are today.”
Fieber says his favorite part of running the restaurant is interacting with the people and his staff, who all look to the menu.
“Solly was the kind of person who liked to eat burgers with lots of butter. Melting butter, you know. We can burn 130 to 150 pounds a week. We have 24 places and we eat a lot of butter.”
Fieber’s favorite item on the menu? The classic butter burger, served with a heaping tablespoon of butter.
“Solly’s butter, melty cheese and secret onions, you put it all together, you just had Shangri-La in your mouth, it’s beautiful.”
Some love burgers so much they got their own official headquarters.
“People who made a difference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin or even America, we like to put those people on the edge of the counter here to give them a little notoriety.”
But at some point, those seats were in jeopardy, as this beloved restaurant nearly closed its doors.
“The COVID experience was not a fun experience for us. I was going to the bank one day and spending my last $500 in cash during COVID. We were probably going to close the next day. I got a call while I was on my way to the bank from the Barstool company, they financed us all summer and we are not alone.”
Now Fieber has a lot more to celebrate than just being open. Solly’s Grille is one of six American restaurants honored with the James Beard America’s Classic Award. These awards recognize culinary excellence across the country.
CBS 58 spoke with the company’s chief operating officer, Darcey Henderson. She says she was the first to hear the news.
“It was shocking, I was the one who took the call. It was just a shock, I’m just speechless, I don’t even know what to say, I’m so happy for him that he got this .”
“We received the award for maintaining the Solly’s story that my stepfather started and I’m very honored by this award. I can’t believe we got this award, it’s phenomenal. In 37 years working here and running this business and then this award. It’s like a miracle. It’s a good time, what a good time. Did the Almighty do this? The time was amazing in my career.
Today, this beloved company is focused on growth and the future.
“We’ll hold on as long as we have the solid staff we have, we’ll keep going,” Henderson said.
“We’re moving like a big semi that’s not going to stop,” Fieber said.
Fieber says they are adding several items to the menu and have new burgers for the community to try. He hopes you’ll stop by for a taste of the tradition.