|Director, George Lucas standing between a '58 Impala & a '66 Citroen across the street from Mels.|
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE MELS
|Mel Weiss (far right) & unidentified others stand proudly at the entrance of the new restaurant.|
In a 1991 interview with the Modesto Bee, Mel Weiss recalled that when the carhop eatery first opened they only expected modest success. However, much to their surprise the restaurant was a hit from the start. "We did $120,000 the first month," he recalled. If Mr. Weiss recollections are correct, the drive-in’s first months gross almost paid for the cost of building the entire restaurant. The cost of building the super drive-in was approximately $135,000.
| As many as 14 girl carhops prompted fast service and many repeat customers.|
1948 FIRE MAP
|The 1948 fire map above shows that Mels drive-in (highlighted area) was surrounded by a used car dealership, service station, welding shop and other businesses with streets that received plenty of traffic. The property included a huge parking lot to accomidate many customers.|
MORE OF A GOOD THING
|Motivated by the success of their first drive-in, Mel Weiss and Steve Dobbs opened their second Mels around 1951 on Mission & Geneva in San Francisco.|
Mels became a fixture of contemporary life, with lurid neon lighting, carhops, and a pre-fast food menu. During the 1950s and '60s you could find one or more Mels drive-ins located throughout Northern California, in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, San Jose, Walnut Creek, and Salinas.
|A typical billboard advertising 3 Mels locations in San Francisco. circa 1950s|
|Mels @ 16th & E. Santa Clara, San Jose, CA.|
|Mels Bowl @ 2580 El Camino, Redwood City, CA. (Opened:1960. Closed: 2011)|
|Mel's 909 South Main, Salinas, CA. circa 1955.|
- Bayer, Patricia. Art Deco Architecture. London: Thomas and Hudson, Ltd., 1992.
- Burger Chain Delivers Mels on Wheels Cruising Modesto. The Modesto Bee. Oct. 5, 1991.
- California Living Magazine, November 20, 1983.
- Freeman, Jo. From Freedom Now! to Free Speech: How the 1963-64 Bay Area Civil Rights demonstrations Paved the Way to Campus Protest. Website. Retrieved 8/13/2012. http://www.jofreeman.com/sixtiesprotest/baycivil.htm
- Freeman, Jo. At Berkeley in the Sixties: Education of an Activist, 1961-1965. Indiana University Press
- Hurley, Andrew. Diners, Bowling Alleys and Trailer Parks. New York: Basic Books, 2001.
- Mels Drive-in Web Page. Retrieved 8/12/2012. www.melsdrivein.com.
- Obituaries. San Francisco Chronicle. August 18, 1994. H. Dobbs, Began Famed Drive-in Eatery. Sun Sentinel.com Retrieved 1/27/2013. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1994-08-18/news/9408170431_1_mel-s-drive-in-restaurant-san-diego-mel-weiss
- Online Archive of California; Specialty Real Estate Web Page. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2012. www.specialtyrealestate.com/issues/nov98/aclassickeepsonrockin.htm