Mel’s Drive-In, a classic Los Angeles diner icon, has appeared in a multitude of movies over the years. There are several locations across the Golden State, with the LA restaurants being most well-known. Even Universal Studios created a replica in honor of its impact throughout cinema. Although famous for their classic California diner vibe, Mel’s Drive-In has a rocky history with discriminatory instances in the past. People of color were unable to work in a visible front of the restaurant and were only hired to be present in the back. This was mainly to keep a pristine image in the minds of the majority of racist white people, creating a further divide within the Angeleno community. Sit-ins became a regular activity and eventually people of color were able to show their faces in the front of the establishment. Not even liberal Southern California could escape the filthy discriminatory dirt of the 1900s.
Now, I was showing my Orange County friend, someone who had never really toured Los Angeles, around the city when our tummies started rumbling. We were on Sunset Boulevard when we decided to venture into this restaurant, not really knowing what to expect. The food was rather average and no real flavor stood out, but the scene around us is what called to her attention. A few booths away her favorite rapper happened to be sitting and indulging on a burger with his family. Fans continuously were making the intimidating trek to his table in hopes of receiving an autographed napkin. This was the most stereotypical Southern Californian day that I have ever experienced, but I secretly loved it.