One needn't own a grill to enjoy grilled food on their patio. Not since Fishers Foods opened The Grill at Fishers Foods earlier this year.

"This is Alexander Fisher's concept," said Joe Pileggi of North Canton, the catering director and Deli, Marketplace and Seafood supervisor at Fishers. "The Grill has been open since February, so it is relatively new. We have been researching the menu and came up items people can order for lunch or dinner."

Cutting edge

Fisher, who serves as Fishers Foods' director of store operations, is always looking for ways to update his family's stores and give customers choices and new ideas of what to expect from their local grocer.

"I wanted to do something in the realm of food," he said. "Prepared food is becoming more popular and not just going out to dinner, but fast casual restaurants. I wanted to bring a concept to our customers that showcases what we do well and bring something new to the table, and having it quick and prepared right in front of the customer."

Currently, The Grill is located only at Fishers' Fulton Drive store. However, they are considering opening grills at some of their other stores in the future.

"The customer can see everything going on while their food is being grilled," said Fisher, who lives in Canton. "The quality of food is what I am going for. I want to ensure the food we are showcasing on the grill is great quality. It is non GMO. Not necessarily organic, but the spinach we offer is organic, and the beef is grass fed beef, a leaner type beef, but not as fatty."

Fisher said the concept of the menu was kept simple.

"We just wanted three things that are staples basically, and then a build-your-own burger, and who doesn't like the opportunity of building their own burger?" he said. "The whole other side of The Grill, is that there is just not a menu to choose from but customers can also pick out of the service meat case or fresh seafood or meat case and we grill it for you right there on the spot."

Fishers uses Spice Cave Seasonings, which uses non GMO (genetically modified organism) spices.

Back to the future

"There is no charge for grilling,"said Pileggi. "We've had a couple months for a growth period, and it is going well."

Local is key, said Pileggi.

"We try to use everything that is local," he said, adding that everything, including seasonings used at The Grill, is available in the store. "We use products we sell, so if a consumer likes a certain sauce or seasoning, it is here. We focus on texture and flavor."

In addition, the fresh food counters are located near The Grill, so diners can whip together a side dish or two to go with their grilled protein. Menu items include a Gerber chicken sandwich served on Fishers Italian 5-grain bread, topped with Swiss cheese, sprouts and a honey-basil aioli ($6.99); Simply Essentials shaved bottom sirloin steak served on Fishers French baguette, topped with provolone cheese, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and onions ($8.99); Grilled salmon sandwich with Spice Cave Sea Seasoning served on Fishers Italian 5-grain bread, topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato ($8.99); and a build-your-own burger made with grass-fed beef served on a Fishers bun with lettuce and tomato ($8.99). There is also a list of toppings that can be added to the sandwich.

Lunch and the afternoon hours are the busiest times for The Grill right now. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Grill chef

Kevin Stinchcomb of Perry Township is the chief grill cook at Fishers.

"I started out in the catering department a couple years ago. Our grill cook decided to move on, and so about six months ago, I moved up," he said, noting the real secret to grilling food perfectly is the thermometer and a good piece of meat. "We definitely have the best steaks and seafood in town. Knowing what temperatures to grill to for that particular piece is important."

He grills to order, saying some want to take their food with them and others want to eat at the store. When it is a to-go order, he said he grills the meat to a few degrees less than the customer wants because meat tends to continue cooking during a rest period.

"A lot of people don't know what we do here, but really, anything they want, we can cook it, for free," he said. "It is what I do best. I have always been a home cook having learned about cooking and food from my grandmother. She instilled my passion for cooking." 

Stinchcomb, a nurse by training and degree, decided to follow his passion in cooking and food.

Taste testers

Shopper Anna Jones of Jackson Township stopped by The Grill to say a steak she bought and had grilled for her husband turned out perfectly.

"I don't eat meat, really," she said. "My husband is a meat eater and I kind of depend on whoever is waiting on me to pick out good pieces of meat. My husband likes a fillet well done, but not dry. I told that gentleman there (pointing to Stinchcomb) and he said OK. My husband said it was the best steak ever."

Eating food cooked on the grill seemed too good to pass up, so The Canton Repository's taste testers decided to try it for themselves.

My cheeseburger ($5.99) was cooked to medium temperature and was juicy, grilled to perfection. I had cheddar cheese added and it comes with lettuce and tomato. I asked for mayonnaise to be added. Perfect. 

Here are what the others had to say:

Laura Kessel:

This was my second visit to The Grill, and the second was as satisfying as the first.

On that first visit, my husband and I stopped in to pick up a Friday dinner. We surveyed the meat case adjacent to The Grill, then checked out what was in the nearby meat case. I went for a strip steak, while my husband chose a piece of salmon. Both were well cooked. For the salmon, my husband had a choice of some sauces and different spices, including a couple rubs. I went with simply grilled for the steak.

When we hit The Grill for lunch last week, the Burger of the Month caught my eye. A Caprese Burger ($7.99), it was loaded with the makings of a caprese salad — mozzarella cheese, basil, tomato and balsamic vinegar. High quality pieces made up the toppings here. A thick slice of mozzarella was placed on the grill to soften up before it was placed on the burger. The tomato was fresh and thickly sliced. The basil was a huge, deeply flavored leaf. The vinegar was a balsamic glaze that was supremely tasty. The flavors blended very well and held their own against the burger.

This burger was delicious. It's early in the month, so I will have plenty of time to have another couple before the special changes in September.

One thing I won't do is add an egg to it. I did that for our taste test. Among the many toppings you can add are a cage-free fried egg for $1; bacon for $1; onion rings for 50 cents; and sauteed mushrooms and onions for 50 cents. The egg would be ideal for the burger Denise tried, or one that doesn't have its own sauce. If it's presauced, trust what Fishers is serving up. I really only ordered it to see how they cooked it. Turns out, the over-easy egg at times got in the way of the balsamic topping.

Jessica Holbrook:

I've often grabbed a rotisserie chicken or a to-go sandwich from the grocery store on nights when I'm too busy, or too lazy, to make dinner. But I don't think I've ever had a grocery store sandwich quite like this one.

I had the Gerber chicken sandwich (6.99), made with locally sourced chicken. The sandwich is really well balanced with perfectly seasoned chicken that pairs well with the honey-basil aioli. I loved the addition of sprouts — one of my favorite sandwich toppings — and the whole grain bread was hearty and delicious but sliced thin enough that it didn't distract from the rest of the sandwich. The chicken is topped with a forgettable slice of Swiss cheese that's lost in combination with the other ingredients. I'd leave it off next time.

I loved the panko crusted broccoli that we ordered as a side dish. I often make roasted broccoli at home, but I'd never thought to add panko and red peppers into the mix.

The only downside: The Grill is not fast. If you've got a short lunch break, I'd plan accordingly.

Dan Kane:

I was very impressed with my grilled salmon BLT sandwich at The Grill at Fisher Foods. The thick piece of fresh salmon was moist and mild and had a nice grilled flavor, enhanced with Spice Cave Sea Seasoning.

I really liked the grilled 5-grain bread that it was served on, and the lettuce, perfectly ripe tomato slice and thick-sliced bacon that topped it. To kick up the flavor a notch, I added a bit of sriracha mayo. I like how the sandwich was served for in-store eating, on a melamine, not Styrofoam plate, and there was real silverware, not plastic. The delicious sandwich was accompanied by house made potato chips and a dill spear. $8.99 seemed a fair price.

Reach Denise at 330-580-8321 or denise.sautters@cantonrep.com. On Twitter:@dsauttersREP