Mel’s Drive-In abruptly closes

The Rancho Cucamonga Mel’s Drive-In (11550 Fourth St.) shut down yesterday.

I received a tip (via email to dine909@inlandnewspapers.com) from a reader who had gone there with her husband for a late lunch and were informed by the employees that they had been told that it was their last day.

Sure enough, I went by today and saw a pair of notes on the door that read:

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“MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2010

CLOSED

The Signature Center and Mel’s Drive-In announce that Mel’s Drive-In will be closing its Rancho Cucamonga location on October 25, 2010. Mel’s has made a decision to focus on expanding its flagship locations. Mel’s values its customers and welcomes its Rancho Cucamonga customers at all of its other locations. The Signature Center is actively working with a tenant to operate in the Mel’s building and will make an announcement as soon as possible.

Please watch for announcements.”

“To Our guests:

As of Sunday Oct. 24th Mel’s Drive-In Rancho Cucamonga Will be closing its doors for business.

Thank you for your patronage and we will miss you.

The staff and management”

Apparently people who were showing up for cruise night had no idea that it would be the Rancho Cucamonga Mel’s last.

And hey, how about that note?

Mel’s Rancho Cucamonga customers are welcome at all the other locations? I didn’t realize there was some sort of residency policy for restaurant entry. If you live in Ontario, does that mean you’re not welcome?

I kid.

I only visited that Mel’s once — on a rainy day — for dessert. The sundae was a bit overpriced, and there were about half a dozen buckets here and there catching drips coming out of the ceiling.

There was only one other occupied table in the restaurant.

In other words, I’m not surprised by the closure.

I think that they were a little out of place in that Ontario Mills-adjacent location. They kind of got lost in the shuffle.

If you wanted breakfast, IHOP and Coco’s were nearby. If you wanted a burger, Fuddrucker’s was across the street. If you wanted a salad or a sandwich, there were any number of places to go. If you wanted a shake or a malt, Sonic was less than a block away.

In fact, Sonic was probably the final nail in their coffin.

I think they would’ve had a better chance at Victoria Gardens. But there’s already a Richie’s Real American Diner there, which has a similar retro diner vibe.

What do you think? Were you a fan of Mel’s, or did you miss out on your opportunity to give them a try?

Feel free to comment below.

Update: Daily Bulletin Columnist David Allen was a fan and has written a nice eulogy for the diner. You can read it here.

  • Good Bye Mel

    I was there once – about three months after they first opened. Perhaps they relied on their LA-cred, but there wasn’t much buzz for it compared to Sonic (people were talking about it for weeks!)

    My opinion is that not many people knew about it. They should have picked a location closer to the freeway where cars could see them, or a bigger and flashier retro sign, like the one they have in L.A.

    Now that they’re gone, I hope a Tommy’s Chili Burgers takes it’s spot!