words by Yvonne Villasenor
When it comes to burgers and brews, we’d argue no one does it better than this heavy metal club house. Since opening their Alhambra-based brick and mortar in 2013, Grill ‘Em All has become the perfect place for metalheads and wrestling fans to slay their hunger with awesome food and drinks seven days a week.
For owners Matt Chernus and Ryan Harkins, Grill ‘Em All means “absolute power, no mercy and extreme party” … which is exactly what they’ve cooked up for Angelenos and anyone who makes the trip to their hard-hitting, heavy metal haven.
Praised for their mouthwatering half-pound burgers and hand-cut fries, Grill ‘Em All has had the honor of serving rock and roll icons like Dee Snider, Dave Mustaine, Tommy Lee, Zakk Wylde, Nita Strauss, Kerry King, the guys in Obituary, among many others. Professional wrestlers including Rob Van Dam, Rikishi, Paul London, Dolph Ziggler, Frankie Kazarian, Willie Mack, Priscilla Kelly, Darby Allin, Marty Scurll and Brody King have also gladly taken burgs to the face.
Considering the mark they’ve made, it’s hard to imagine the unholy alliance of Chernus, a former professional wrestler, and Harkins, a chef, having different aspirations prior to Grill ‘Em All’s inception.
Chernus describes what life was like before their burger Valhalla:
“Ryan and I moved to LA from Cleveland, Ohio to work in the music industry, but a few months into that, we both ended up back in hospitality to pay the rent,” Chernus says. “We were treading water, just kind of living by the skin of our teeth when we started discussing what it would be like to open our own place. The food truck thing was just starting to become hip with Kogi and their long lines. We saw that and decided to jump on the bandwagon.”
In 2009, the tag team decided they’d cook up meat and mayhem, all the while proclaiming death to false burgers, or “shitty burgers,” Chernus says.
After getting their own trucks—“The Beast” and “Son of Beast”—and winning over customers with their gourmet grub and rebellious nature, the demand for their killer food grew. That demand exploded even more so following Chernus and Harkins’ appearances on the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
They made every ghoul’s dreams come true in January 2013 when they opened their brick and mortar location with an expanded menu. They’ve since hosted meet and greets, record release parties, in-store jam sessions and live podcasts.
“People always say do what you love, so we took that too far and made a club house where we can blare metal and watch rassling while ‘working,’” Chernus says. For emphasis, If he had to name his all-time favorite pay-per-view, album, and burger and brew pairing, his choices would be ECW Barely Legal, the entire Motorhead catalog, and a High on Fire with a Coors Banquet.
Upon making your entrance into this electrifying burger joint, you’ll be stoked to be welcomed by face-melting solos, five-star matches on TV and a one-of-a-kind menu.
Just about every item, whether permanent or temporary, is named after a heavy metal or professional wrestling influence. A few examples include: Dee Snider, Samoa Joe, Cowboy from Hell, No More Mr. Nice Fries, Super King of Bros tots, etc. Each name suits the accompanied item’s ingredients to a t!
When it comes to deciding on the names, Chernus explains:
“Sometimes it is as easy as a band or record label coming to us and wanting to work on a burger for something. Then, we can do something the band wants or riff with them on a collaboration. But usually the name comes from something in the burger like an ingredient, spice, or the origin place of a particular dish. Other times, it’s way stupider. Like the Dee Snider was named that because the color of the jelly and Sriracha mixed together reminded us of Dee back in the ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ days.”
Once it’s time to find the best seat in the house to get your grub on, you’ll find the walls filled with signatures from rockers and wrestlers, along with autographed memorabilia, photos, skate decks, accolades and artwork. This is a spot that makes you feel right at home, seriously.
Reflecting on over a decade of Grill ‘Em All’s wild adventures and glorious experiences, Chernus says if his and Harkins’ younger selves told them what the future held for their rocking restaurant, they “would have told us to shut up and slam another beer, for sure.”
So, what’s next for this beloved heavy metal burger hangout?
Well, what we all hope to someday accomplish. Simply put: world domination and the paying off of bills, Chernus says.
Want to arrive, raise hell and eat?
Grill ‘Em All is located at 19 E. Main St, Alhambra, CA, 91801. They’re open every day from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. To keep up on the latest burgs, brews, and events, follow Grill ‘Em All on Instagram — HERE