Neighborhood Highlight: Mel's Drive-In

Mel’s Drive-in at Van Ness Ave & Geary is the third in the franchise, opening in 1998. Mel’s Drive-In was made famous when its original location at 140 South Van Ness was featured in the George Lucas film “American Graffiti.” Built in 1947, it really was a drive-in, a style of restaurant had become very popular in southern California, where the warm weather made eating in your car comfortable year round. Mel's was one of the few drive-ins in northern California, and it was, and is, a huge success.

Today Mel’s serves as a late night diner for the neighborhood, and is an iconic place to grab a bite after catching a movie at the AMC 14 Van Ness Theatre, or a show at The Great American Music Hall, The Fillmore, or The Warfield Theatre.


  • Sunday-Wednesday: 6:00am-1:00am
  • Thursday: 6:00am-2:00am
  • Friday-Saturday: 6:00am-4:00am

Learn more about the history of Mel's on their website and on this write up by Mark Groesbeck.