Meet You at Mel’s

Hungry? Try some “corrugated cookies and two on the rail.” That is the original Mel’s Drive-In translation for waffles and two cokes according to Stephen Dobbs. Stephen is the son of Harold and Annette Dobbs, owners of the flagship Mel’s Drive that was located at 140 South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco in the 1960s. He worked summers at the restaurant when he was a teenager and said, “My first publication was a book made on a ditto machine of the slang the servers used to order the food.”

The family sold the restaurant chain and the building was scheduled to be torn down in 1972 when film director George Lucas chose the site for his classic film about teenagers…American Graffiti. 

If you are nostalgic for the real Mel’s, check out some great photos in this YouTube clip tribute to the film:

In addition to San Francisco, American Graffiti was scheduled to be filmed in San Rafael in Marin County. When the San Rafael City Council withdrew permission for filming because of the disruption to local businesses, Lucas moved the location to Petaluma in Sonoma County. In 2005, a group of Petaluma volunteers decided to produce a “Salute to American Graffiti, Where were you in ’62?” event and their nonprofit organization is called Cruisin’ the Boulevard, Inc. They produce an annual festival in downtown Petaluma and profits go to community projects, including education, arts and history. Check out a clip from last year’s event:

Here is the group’s Web site, including an American Graffiti filming locations map. If you like vintage cars, dancing to a live band and a classic car cruise down Petaluma Boulevard, then  – be there or be square – for the 40th anniversary of the 1973 release of the film, scheduled for Friday night, May 17 and all day Saturday, May 18.

Best wishes,