The landmark Melrose Diner in South Philadelphia will reopen Wednesday, Sept. 11, about six weeks after what was first believed to be a minor fire.
The 24-hour diner will reopen that day at 8 a.m. and will offer a 50 percent discount until 8 p.m.
During the dinner hour on July 24, employees and customers noticed smoke coming from a vent in an exterior-facing wall at the Melrose, which opened in 1954 on the former site of a police and fire station on 15th Street between Snyder and West Passyunk Avenues. Firefighters quickly contained the blaze and no injuries were reported.
Owner Michael Petrogiannis, who initially had expected to reopen within a week, said damage to the roof and ventilation system was more severe than he first thought. While commissioning the repairs, he said he decided to add new features. What’ll it be? “This will be a surprise,” he said last week.
Petrogiannis relocated more than a dozen employees to his other restaurants, notably the nearby Broad Street Diner. The Melrose waitresses continued to wear their black shirts, while the Broad Street Diner waitresses wore their customary red.
Petrogiannis owns 10 diners as well as the swank La Veranda near Penn’s Landing.
The Melrose dates to 1935, when German immigrant Richard W. Kubach Sr. rented a building at 1610 W. Passyunk Ave., outfitted it with furnishings bought from the Salvation Army, and opened a 19-seat diner. Kubach got the name from a brand of canned tomatoes that featured a rose on its label.
Kubach moved and expanded several times before 1954, when he settled at the current location, across Passyunk Avenue from the original spot. He died in 1998 at age 90. His son, Richard Jr., sold the diner to Petrogiannis in 2007.