Owner hopes to re-open fire-damaged Melrose Diner in a week

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A corner of the Melrose Diner, at 15th Street and Snyder Avenue, is boarded up Thursday morning. Wires are dangling, and a smoky smell still lingers in the air after a fire Wednesday evening sent customers scattering from the 84-year-old South Philly institution.

Whether it’s early in the morning for breakfast or a midnight snack to soak up the suds, this place is always open.

It's shocking for neighbors like Rob Hartsell to see the 24-hour diner closed. He says he's been eating there for 26 years. 

"Drop in here for breakfast, brunch, maybe an afternoon sandwich. It's always a favorite palce to come when you'e in a hurry and you don't want to cook breakfast," Hartsell said. "Family type place, yes, very much part of the community. Very sad to see it."

Crews got to work early this morning at the Melrose Diner. The owner is hopeful they can reopen next week. @KYWNewsradio pic.twitter.com/Brsi6WVDu8

— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) July 25, 2019

Walking by with his two dogs Thursday morning was Arlen Ask, who worked at the Melrose for 42 years, starting in 1959. If anyone knows what this place means to a lot of neighbors, it's him.

"When I worked here, we had customers that came in and ate every day," he said. "I don't know that they knew how to boil water, becasue they always come here to eat."

The fire began around 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Workers tried to put out the flames with buckets of water as smoke filled the air. No one was hurt as all the customers got out safely.

Firefighters quickly got the fire under control and contained it to a discrete section of the building.

It is believed to have been an electrical fire.

There is a lot of work to do to clean up and repair the business, but the owner says he wants to open up again as soon as next week.