George’s Lounge | Behind the Food

It was on First Friday in August 2012 that a downtown Canton standby, George’s Lounge, reopened with three new owners. “We’re all from Canton. We saw what was happening downtown, and we thought the location was perfect,” said Ryan McMichael, who partnered with his twin brother, Aaron, with whom he has a chiropractic business, and John Degenhardt, a friend of theirs since elementary school.

It was on First Friday in August 2012 that a downtown Canton standby, George’s Lounge, reopened with three new owners.

“We’re all from Canton. We saw what was happening downtown, and we thought the location was perfect,” said Ryan McMichael, who partnered with his twin brother, Aaron, with whom he has a chiropractic business, and John Degenhardt, a friend of theirs since elementary school.

“If there was anything we all would find interesting, it was a local-based adventure in the business world in some shape or form,” Ryan said. George’s, open since 1959, “was small enough, it was an old place, it had an established presence. It was a comfortable investment.”

George’s in almost eight years has become one of downtown’s beloved spots, with stellar burgers and fries, live music, a friendly staff and a winning old-school dive-bar vibe. Ryan spoke with fondness about George’s, which he describes as “like another living room that you go to.”

Q. When you first opened George’s, there was no food, just drinks. How did the burgers evolve?
A.
“Food was always definitely part of the plan, but we didn’t know it would be that popular. It was never my goal to be the place with people’s favorite burger. When we took over, the kitchen had been closed for three or four years. We didn’t start serving food until September 2013.”

Q. It’s cool that George’s is dedicated to using fresh and local products.
A.
“We always wanted to use good-quality ingredients, even in comfort food. Every single appetizer is handmade, all of our sauces are made in house; nothing is frozen. It makes it more costly, but it’s what we want to do.

Q. Tell me about your burger-of-the-month program. Is it challenging to keep inventing new burgers after all these years?
A.
“It’s up to the head cook, but they don’t make it onto the menu without us tasting it and modifying. We usually encourage them to come up with a sauce and a spirit of some sort and use fresh herbs. I don’t think it’s ever been as weird as we want, but there’s a balance between getting attention and giving pleasure. The first burger of the month was in December 2013, Jolly Jammin’ Santa. It comes back every year.”

Q. The oval-shaped bar at George’s is great for people-watching. Tell me about the clientele.
A.
“It’s everything from business people downtown to the late-night young college crowd. You can see 39 other people (at the bar), and I think that’s great. The bartenders are all interesting, too. You’ll see all kinds of people. We’re the only place within miles that serves food until 2 a.m.”

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass