BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
Mel’s Burger opened on August 26th. The flickering neon sign reminiscent of Times Square circa 1940 is an inviting homage to what is now kitschy, old New York. Located in the heart of Columbia University territory, I expected to see a flood of college kids swarming the place and perhaps a stale beer smell from nights past. Instead, I walked into a rather large restaurant with an interesting selection of clientele ranging from senior citizens to families with young children, to of course, Columbia students. The interior was decked from head to toe in rustic wood and accented with fun elements like a black and white checkered floor, a large painting with the not-so-subliminal message “hamburgers delicious”, and the restaurant’s namesake spelled out in perfectly made-to-look-dingy lights.
The staff was energized and seemingly happy to be at work. Their number 1 concern for the entire time I was there was that I was having fun and that I was trying out as many beers on their impressive, craft heavy, list as I could possibly muster.
Reading over the menu, with items ranging from their spiked milk shakes to their homage to the “original” Louis’ Lunch burger (let’s give credit where credit is due!) to the hand cut buffalo and disco fries and onion strings, I could tell that Mel’s really was all about having fun and enjoying food on a college student’s budget (burgers ranging from $8.50 to $12.50).
While the stale beer smell may come with time, and the staff might not always be so giddy for work, it is safe to say that as long as they don’t change the special spice blend they use for their burgers and the recipe they use for their delicious french fries, Mel’s will be a staple in the lives of many Columbia students and the residents of Morningside Heights for years to come.