BROOKLIN AND THE MELS DRIVE IN RESTAURANT
Posted by BROOKLIN MODELS
In 1947 Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs opened the first drive-in restaurant in San Francisco, Mels drive-in. At that time the drive-in restaurants were just beginning in America and the nice California weather was ideal for year round carhop service. It consisted of a large parking for 110 cars and a building with a dining room capacity of 75 people. The cooker was able to turn out 180 hamburgers per minute. Due to the success of the first drive-in, more restaurants were opened in the following years in several cities of California. The menu consisted of the famous Melburger, several choices of American-style food and various beverages, desserts and fountain specials. The Mels drive-in on South Van Ness was immortalized by appearing in the film “American Graffiti” of 1973.
SAN FRANCISCO BY BROOKLIN CLUB
The 1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible was chosen as the 9th anniversary Brooklin special for the S.F.B.B.C.. The factory modified the Impala with a candy apple red paint job, interior and tonneau cover in off-white, blackwall tyres on mag-type wheels and a chromed tachometer on the dashboard, representing the beautiful customized cars and hot rods that cruised the boulevards of San Francisco in the 50's and 60's, stopping at that American icon, the drive-in restaurant. Maintaining a San Francisco theme, the spotlight was put on Mels Drive-In restaurants, San Francisco landmarks back then and continuing even today, celebrating their 50th year in 1997. To add a few touches of realism to the drive-in scene, the Club asked the resident artist, Roger Cairns, to create the appropriate sketches for Mels carhop and customer figures. Bill Truscott negotiated with Arttista Models in Pennsylvania for the creation of the masters and 200 castings of each of the figures. The carhop and the seated customer in the car are figures unique to the Club. The carhop wears a white blouse, black pants, red Mels cap and white roller skates and carries a tray with hamburger, fries, and a chocolate milkshake. The customer is dressed in white T-shirt and blue jeans, sports a duck-tail haircut and a cigarette pack tucked in his shirt sleeve. Seated in the driver’s seat, he’s looking for a refill for his glass of Coke. A small cast-metal Mel’s sign and a card insert outlining the history of the American drive-in and Mel’s completes the set. A certificate was made to go with this model with the addresses of Mels Drive-in’s, of the S.F.B.B.C. club and of Brooklin Models, showing also a sample menu of the restaurant. A total of 200 customized Impalas were produced, each with the designation “SFBBC 1997 1 of 200” on the baseplate.
200 pieces of the 1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertibles in candy apple red were ordered by the S.F.B.B.C. in 1997 to use for their annual Club special model. When the models arrived in San Francisco, they were rejected and returned to the factory because the color was not as requested. These Impalas, in metallic rose, were later released as a factory special color, differing from the Club model not only in body color but in having the seats in rose and having white wall tyres instead of blackwall tyres.
Author: Gianluigi Cappi
You may find more pictures and information on this model plus many other Brooklin stories in the Brooklin Models Collectors Guide.