Our latest shoot was our Iconic LA shoot which we had so much fun working on! We did some shots inside Mels Diner on Hollywood and got chatting to Chasen Weiss who is actually the founders grandson! We decided to do a little Q&A with him as we were fascinated by Mels and wanted to find out more…
What’s the story behind Mel’s Diner?
Mels Drive In is a family business, opened in 1947 by Mel Weiss and his partner Harold Dobbs. Mels was one of the first drive in concept restaurants in California, the agreeable climate and car culture made it a great fit. Mels continued to thrive well into the 1960s, when the chain was sold and the last remaining Mels was slated for demolition.
Fortunately, the original San Francisco Mel’s on Geary St was chosen as the location for the classic 1973 film “American Graffiti.” The popularity of the film and the nostalgia inspired Mels son Steven Weiss to open a new generation of Mels Drive In, first in San Francisco and then later in Southern California. Today we have 7 locations with an 8th location in Santa Monica opening this summer.
Do you often see celebrities in the diners?
We see tons of celebrities, particularly at the Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd locations. Our Sunset Blvd location is open 24 hours and late night is prime for spotting celebrities, particularly young Hollywood faces and lots of folks from the music industry.
Do you think Instagram has made the diners more popular in the last few
Social media has definitely increased visibility for restaurants in general, but diners are special in that they evoke feelings of nostalgia and comfort for people of all ages. Instagram has given us the opportunity to showcase not only our food, but its also given customers and fans a chance to take and share photos in a unique, retro atmosphere.
Has the menu changed a lot since when it first opened?
Our classic, American favorites that were on the menu when we first opened are still going strong. You can still get the same chicken noodle soup here today that your grandparents enjoyed in 1947, and of course our burgers continue to ne the best in the business. We’ve updated the menu to reflect the tastes and needs of our customers over the years, with lots of veggie and vegan friendly options and a Healthy Kids Menu, but we’re big fans of the classics and that will never change.
What would you recommend to order if you haven’t been to Mels before?
Can’t beat our burgers and shakes! A customer favorite is our Sunset Burger, served on grilled sourdough with cheddar cheese, bacon and avocado. Oreo is our most popular shake flavor, but for a special treat we recommend the Banana Split!
Read more about Mels Diner HERE