Mel’s Diner Opens In Plattsburgh Keeping That Hometown Feel

Mels Diner

Photo Brian Kachejian 2024

A few months ago, I paid tribute to the legendary Duke’s Diner in the city of Plattsburgh, New York. I have been going there for years and planned to write a restaurant review when I discovered Duke had sold it. So, the article became more of a tribute than a review. However, a waitress who had worked at the diner for a short period of time opened up a new diner in the exact location called Mel’s Diner. The name has nothing to do with the famous diner from the TV sitcom Alice, but rather, it’s named after Melanie Desso, the new owner.

Today, I stopped by Mel’s Diner with my son Cole to have lunch at a place that has always been one of many favorite dining experiences in Plattsburgh. While I am happy to say there is still a bit of the old Duke’s Diner ambiance echoing throughout the establishment, Melanie has brought her own style, flair, and recipes to the eatery, making for a fresh and very enjoyable dining experience.

I have never been a fan of chain restaurants. They are boring. Is there anything different about eating at Applebees in New York than in Pennsylvania or even Georgia? You will find the same food and recipes in each location. What fun is that? I will always argue that eating at local restaurants will provide a richer culinary experience that defines the culture of a particular city or region. It doesn’t get more local than that at Mel’s Diner. Here’s why…….

When I entered the diner, we were told to sit anywhere we wanted to. Now, that’s the way to start off well. We walked in around noon on a Sunday. It was pretty crowded. In fact, it was the most crowded I had ever seen the restaurant. Gone were the old 1950s style booths replaced with very modern comfortable tables and chairs. They were able to fit a lot more seating in the restaurant the way it was now set up. Smart business move. There was plenty of room between tables, so it was pretty comfortable no matter where one chose to sit. The walls had fresh coats of paint all around the diner. There were plenty of photos hanging on the walls with a heavy 1960s music vibe. Of course, there was also plenty of 1950s nostalgia and more. The atmosphere was both clean and inviting.

The waitress quickly approached my table, asking what I wanted to drink. I asked the waitress her name, and she said “Melanie.” “Hmmm,” I said, “are you the Mel in Melanie? ” She replied, “Yes, that’s me.”  Now, you will never find the owner of Applebees or The Red Lobster taking your order and serving your food. Yet in a local restaurant like Mel’s Diner, that is exactly what you could find. How could you not love that?

My son Cole ordered his traditional bacon cheeseburger. I ordered a Turkey sandwich, an item that the menu specially stated was “real turkey,” meaning not processed cold-cut turkey like most places serve.  It was interesting that when Melanie asked if I wanted french fries or homemade fries, I thought she was offering me the choice between home fries and french fries. What she was really asking was the choice between french fries made from a frozen bag or fresh french fries made from fresh potatoes. Of course, I opted for the fresh french fries made from potatoes. The addition of gravy was also offered, which I accepted with a smile. Who doesn’t want gravy from a home-style restaurant like this? Below are photos of the food that was served.

The turkey was incredibly fresh. The gravy had that traditional Thanksgiving taste. What was a real surprise was the macaroni slaw. I ate it in about two seconds. Make sure to pick that when given the choice. My son loved his bacon cheeseburger which came with fresh potato chips and a pickle.

Closed Hot Turkey sandwich with gravy. Homemade french fries and macaroni slaw.

Mels Diner

Photo Brian Kachejian 2024

Bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and onions.

Mels Diner Plattsburgh

Photo Brian Kachejian 2024

What I have learned from past dining experiences and local restaurants is that many of the mom and pop shops like this tend to have really good homemade desserts. I asked Melanie what she had on the dessert menu and she offered me a selection of homemade pies. These were special homemade pies. They were made by her mother. Melanie’s mother, Nancy, had owned the restaurant Nancy’s Village Cafe in Plattsburgh. However, the pandemic put the restaurant out of business just like it did for thousands of independently owned restaurants in this country and, for most parts, worldwide. It’s a story I have heard many times, especially in the city of Plattsburgh. However, Melanie’s mom’s legendary baking skills are now serving the people of Plattsburgh through her daughter’s magnificent new restaurant.

As Melanie finished her listing of her mom’s pies, she also noted that she had homemade strawberry shortcake. For whatever reason, when I hear the words strawberry shortcake, I think of the Little Rascals tv series. I looked her straight in the eyes and said two words….” strawberry shortcake.” When it came out, I could feel the sugar rushing through my veins before I even had a bite. It was sensational!

Mels Diner Plattsburgh

Photo Brian Kachejian 2024

If you are looking for a restaurant with an old-school hometown feel with great food, I highly recommend Mels Diner. The prices are very fair, and the food I have sampled so far has been exceptional. What I enjoyed most about it was the atmosphere. It’s not often that you can go to a restaurant and have the owner serve you the food. You know when the owner is serving you the food that everything on your plate will be perfect……. and it was. Stay tuned as this article will be updated with future visits. There was so much great stuff on the menu that I need to try.

Photo by Cole Kachejian

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