Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mel's Drive-In - an Homage To Happy Days TV

Hollywood had drive-in restaurants from the beginning of Sunset Boulevard. Hollywood gave the world the drive-in waitress on roller skates, slinging sandwiches and drinks on a tray that hung from the car window. And not in scenes in films. Really, waitresses on roller skates. Right up to your car window. The authentic waitress, not an actress in a show.

The last of the original drive-ins was Tiny Naylor's at Sunset Blvd. and La Brea Avenue. I saw girls on skates there in the late 60s. The original Los Angeles drive-ins were: Ben Frank's, Tiny Naylors, and Bob's Big Boy, while The Copper Penny, and Norms are diners but no car hop (carhop?) service.

There were drive-in restaurants in the city where I grew up as a teenager. I used to order "orange Cokes". Coca-Cola with orange syrup mixed in. All the kids in town hung out there. I met my first long term girl friend there. Ah, nostalgia!

Today's picture, of Mel's Drive-In, is on La Brea, immediately south of Hollywood Blvd. Mel's was the name of the drive-in from the television show: Happy Days. This restaurant is a reproduction of the fictional place in the TV show. Your Hollywood Rounder has been to diner's throughout the USA and if you have a question about diner's, I'm your man.

There are a number of restaurant chains that try to re-create the diner experience. Ruby's Diner, Johnny Rockets and Mel's are the ones in Hollywood. They are not original to Hollywood, however. They are reproduction restaurants, like a Picasso print. Having said that, the food at them is much like the food at the drive-ins of the 1940s to the 1970s.

Drive-ins were great fun and Bob's Big Boy in Burbank still holds a once-a-month classic hot rod "show". If you go there, you may see a greaser.

Drive-ins should not be confused with drive-thrus, like McDonald's.

All photos on the Rounder's pages can be enlarged by clicking them.