2019 Update: Happy to say not much has changed at Mel's and that glorious sign still brightens up Lebanon!
Original 2010 Post:
On a sunny summer Friday without a husband or dog to head home to, the road was a'calling, so I headed out west on 422 towards Mel's Diner in Lebanon PA. I remembered the great vintage sign and wanted to see what the interior was like on this vintage stainless diner, and I was not disappointed by either.
First, that beautiful sign, made better by the golden setting sun:
Swoonworthy, no? Especially in our neck of the woods where we don't get many fancy signs like this.
Mel's Diner, a 1955 vintage O'Mahony used to be called the Lincoln Diner and if you look closely at the sign you can see where the painted "Mel's" sign is used to cover up where it used to be the Lincoln Diner (or you can look here at Spencer Stewart's Diner Hunter entry on Mel's Diner with his photos from a few years back, and you can definitely see where it used to be the Lincoln). Covered up by a metal awning along the front and some mustard colored panels, the diner is still in good shape and open 7 days a week.
Happy to have made it to the diner while they were still open, I was greeted by the friendly waitstaff and told I could sit wherever I'd like. And where does Mod Betty sit, when she has the chance? In the corner booth! I loved the way the sunlight was streaming in and highlighting this clean and cheery diner interior, done up in shades of blue and burgundy.
And as I turned to my table, I saw a familiar sight, a Seeburg Consolette vintage juke box, just like the one in my Hacienda kitchen (a gift from a dear pal) and I was pleased to see that it was in even better condition than my version!
They even had the consolettes still at the counter, a very cool touch.
While perusing the menu I was a tad bummed to not see chicken croquettes on the menu, as that is a go-to for me to try at a diner. I actually wasn't that starving to be honest, so I went with my #1 sandwich on the planet, a BLT with mayo on white toast. And WOW, was I right to order this!
I was so enamored with this flavorful sandwich that I didn't even think to snap a photo until one half was already consumed, but just take a look at that great tomato! As red as the sign outside and bursting with seasonal flavor, it took what is already a wonderful mixture of flavors and elevated this sandwich to a delightful experience. When I told the waitress how much I enjoyed the tomato she said that they do get a lot of their produce from a local farmer, which got a thumbs up in my book. Once you get a juicy tomato like this the hard styrofoam ones from the store just don't cut it.
While devouring my sandwich I loved overhearing the banter between the folks working and the folks dining. The lament about the lack of rice pudding or tapioca brought stories of an ill-fated experiment into cracker pudding, (a Pennsylvania Dutch treat that sounds pretty good to me) and the sharing that a family recipe for shoo-fly pie had been handed down and was ready to try. The waitresses seemed well acquainted with the folks dining here, and with a friendly smile, I felt like I was welcomed into the fold, even in those short minutes I wolfed down that delectable sandwich and was on my way.