Eating on your own is always a strange experience. And never more so than when you’re in Hollywood on a Friday night. Thankfully, it’s the kind of occasion that diners were invented for. Having walked around for a while (which is Brit Out Of Water code for “made my way to the nearest record shop to buy CDs, plus box sets of TV shows I’ve missed”), I happened upon Mel’s Drive In.
Even though I’ve only been to LA once before, I’ve still managed to go to a Mel’s Drive In before – there’s a few of them around the West Coast, and the outpost on Sunset Boulevard proved useful after a boozy night out on my last trip here. Tonight’s meal showed the Jekyll and Hyde nature of diners in America, with possibly the worst
chickenbuffalo wings I’ve ever had (supremely soggy chicken skin, anyone?) and a fantastic cheeseburger that actually tasted of meat.
But it was three other things that particularly drew my attention at Mel’s Drive In.
1. As far as I could make out, it wasn’t a Drive In. You could park your car right next to the restaurant, admittedly, but I guess “Mel’s Drive Up To” wasn’t as compelling a name.
2. Los Angeles may well be the one place on earth where people wear bluetooth headsets on a permanent basis, despite not being on the phone. That they manage to wear the headsets and yet not demonstrate any visible sign of embarrassment or self-awareness speaks volumes for the confidence of these people.
3. There is only one door at Mel’s Drive In, making it the only way that you can get into the restaurant. Inside, above the door, is a sign that reads “This door to remain unlocked during business hours”.
With business insight like that, it’s no wonder that America is the leader of the capitalist world.