By Nancy Tannler
One of the most interesting experiences of life is hearing stories from the people who live and work in this community. Everyone has their own trajectory and the revelation of how they end up being here and doing what they do makes for good copy. Clint Melville of Rip City Grill is no exception.
Raised on a farm in the lush San Joaquin Valley, Melville was surrounded by the miracle of growing food. “Ever since I was ten years old, I would tell my mother when we passed by this landmark diner that one day I was going to open a restaurant there,” Melville said. The road to a brick and mortar restaurant has finally happened although not where he originally thought it would.
All through college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Melville worked as a cook to help pay his way. After graduation, he gravitated right away into the food industry with one of his first adult jobs as a manager for the Chipotle chain in Denver. He made a smart decision to invest in their stock and when they went public, he sold it for a good profit. This helped provide the seed money for the next phase of his life.
Portland called him, so thirteen years ago he came north working for various restaurants until he launched upon the idea to open a food cart. The location of the Rip City Grill on the south waterfront park and his specialty of the Tri Tip Steak sandwiches proved to be a successful combination and his business took off.
Working with food is labor intensive and working for himself provided the perk of being able to close the cart down for a few months during the winter and pursue his passion for golf. So the cart menu expanded, and catering became another extension of what the Rip City Grill did.
First came love, than marriage and now Melville and his wife are expecting their second child. They took the next leap four months ago and he and partner Julius Rivera opened the Rip City Grill at 60th & SE Division. “I’ve been looking for the right fit and was glad to have stumbled onto this location,” Melville said.
Now along with the food cart and the catering business, Rip City Grill has a storefront to serve their food in all year long. The secret to their Tri Tip Steak sandwich and burgers is the certified naturally raised Angus beef. He uses a Santa Maria style woodfire grill that he learned about while living in California and brought here to the northwest. “When we are catering our cedar plank salmon dinner we use white oak to fire the grill,” Melville said. The flavor is exceptional. Their catering serves anywhere from 10 – 600 people.
The menu includes a solid selection of grillable foods like chicken, toasted cheese, Portobello mushroom, Tri Tip chili with chorizo, several tasty additions and sides of roasted potatoes, carrots, salad and corn bread muffins. The prices are affordable and quality ingredients are a key component.
Fortunately, the strip of restaurants and a health center at this location has a large parking lot so there’s easy access for people in the neighborhood. Located just east of the building, their full menu can be viewed at ripcitygrill.com.