Thursday, February 02, 2006

Original Mel's to Open Restaurant in Geri-Towne Mall

Original Mel's to Open Restaurant in Geri-Towne Mall
By Christine Cube

FAIRFIELD - A slice of 1950s Americana is coming to Fairfield.

Original Mel's, which has seven diners across Northern California, plans to open a new location at Geri-Towne Mall.

The next closest Original Mel's is on Nut Tree Parkway in Vacaville.

The new restaurant will open around May 1, said Don Yakel, president and general manager of Original Mel's.

Total investment in the 3,700-square-foot diner will be roughly $1.7 million, which includes construction and leasing. The Fairfield restaurant will feature 110 to 115 seats and patio dining for up to another 30 customers.

"We thought we would be a new face in the area . . . we've been looking at Fairfield for five years," Yakel said. "I'm excited for our people. We've got a very good group of people who have worked very hard to make it successful. Mel's is a name; the people make it successful."

Original Mel's officials initially scouted the Gateway Plaza area for a spot but nothing was available.

Crews actively are performing tenant improvements to the Geri-Towne Mall space, which formerly housed Sacramento Savings Bank.

Original Mel's serves close to 2 million customers a year. It's a family-oriented diner famous for its big selection of breakfast entrees, hamburgers, sandwiches, sides and shakes. Each Original Mel's comes with lots of personality, vintage memorabilia, a juke box with 600 selections and enthusiastic employees.

The diner isn't associated with the Mel's Drive-In Restaurant chain or the Mel's Diner in Florida.

Retail neighbors are ready for the arrival of the Original Mel's. Some are happy; others not so much.

A Denny's manager remained confident about the competition.

"It's down the street," Sandy Bordsen said. "Competition is a good thing."

Yakel is confident Original Mel's will succeed here.

"Roseville has every type of restaurant possible and the Original Mel's there goes up in volume every year," he said. "I think we do very well against our competitors. We work hard to be a value to our customer."

The first Original Mel's opened in Walnut Creek 10 years ago. That restaurant is now being sold.

"It's been a very successful restaurant but it's just a little too far for us to go. We were made an offer we couldn't refuse by someone who operates another restaurant," Yakel said, mentioning the Walnut Creek location at 1,700 square feet is about half the size of the rest of the restaurants.

Original Mel's employs 240 people in Northern California.

In addition to the Solano County locations, the company has diners in Folsom, Sacramento and Reno. There also is a new restaurant in planning for Natomas.

Reach Christine Cube at 427-6934 or

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