Beloved Milwaukee-area restaurant Solly's Grille wins prestigious award

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GLENDALE, WIS (CBS 58) -- On North Port Washington Road, you'll find a Glendale staple. Solly's Grille.

Inside, you'll find owner Glenn Fieber. He says the business began with his stepfather in 1936.

"Solly started his little Café on 3rd street or Green Bay Avenue or Martin Luther King Avenue or Drive now. He went on until 1971 and in 1971 he shut the business down on 3rd street and moved here into Glendale. I then bought the business from my mother in 1993. The city of Glendale came at me in the year 2000 and they asked me if I would stay if they remodeled the whole block. They helped us move the building here and helped us remodel a bit and here we stand today. "

Fieber says his favorite part of running the restaurant is interacting with the people and his staff, whom all flip for the menu.

"Solly was the type of person who loved to have hamburgers with a lot of butter. Melting butter, you know. We can go through 130-150 pounds a week. We have 24 seats, and we go through a lot of butter."

Fieber's favorite item on the menu? The classic butter burger, complete with a heaping tablespoon of butter.

"The butter, the melting cheese and Solly's secret onions, you put all that stuff together you've just got Shangri-La in your mouth, it's beautiful."

Some love the burgers so much they've been given their own official seat.

"People that have made a difference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin or even America we like to put these people on the edge of the counter here to give them a little notoriety."

But at one point, those seats were at risk, as this beloved restaurant almost had to close its doors.

"The COVID experience was not a fun experience for us. I was going to the bank one day and I was going through my last $500 in cash during COVID. We were probably going to close the next day. I got a call as I was on my way to the bank from the Barstool company, they funded us through the summer and not we're on our own two feet."

Now, Fieber has a lot more to celebrate than just being open. Solly's Grille is among six U.S. restaurants being honored with the James Beard America’s Classic Award. These awards honor culinary excellence across the country.

CBS 58 spoke with Company Overhead Manager Darcey Henderson. She says she was the one who first received the news.

"It was shocking, I was the one who took the phone call. It was just shock I am just speechless I don't even know what to say I am so happy for him that he got that."

"We got the award for maintaining the history of Solly's that my stepfather started and I'm very honored by this award I can't believe we got this award is phenomenal. In 37 years of working here and running this business and then this award comes it's like a miracle. This is great timing, what great timing this is. Did the almighty do this? The timing was unbelievable in my career."

Now, this beloved business is focused on growth and moving forward.

"We will hold on as long as we have the strong staff that we have we will keep it going," said Henderson.

"We're moving like a big semi that's not going to stop," said Fieber.

Fieber says they are adding several items to the menu and have new burgers for the community to try. He hopes you'll stop in to get a taste of tradition.

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