Homey Little Coffee Shop, Day and Night

When was the last time you had real Texas-style chili--you know, the kind with big chunks of sirloin in it, and corn and beans and all that good stuff? Chili with that rich flavor that comes from putting 10 bottles of dark beer into every batch.

Well, actually, according to Bob Miller, general manager of Mel 'n Rose's Coffee Shop, 10 bottles of beer are supposed to go into every pot of Mel's Bombadier Chili. But he jokes that two of them probably go into the cook. But there you are. Good cooks, like other artists, immerse themselves in their work, body and soul. And judging by the chili, Mel 'n Rose's chef is an artist well worth the two bottles.

There aren't many places in the fashionable Melrose area where one can go 24 hours a day for good, home-style food--flapjacks fresh off the griddle, bagels and cream cheese, salads, omelets and hot and cold sandwiches. And, of course, good coffee.

Apocryphal Legend

Though "The Legend of Mel and Rose" printed on the back of the menus is largely apocryphal, the coffee shop was indeed founded by a real Mr. and Mrs. Mel and Rose Cohen. Obviously, though, the choice of location was premeditated.

A couple of doors west of the Groundling Theatre (two blocks west of La Brea Avenue), Mel 'n Rose's opened in August in a space that has seen a number of businesses come and go recently. Last time around it was a New Wave Japanese restaurant. But in Los Angeles you just never know what will fly and what won't.

Meanwhile, Mel 'n Rose's is soaring. After only five months, the place is packed day after day, attracting a crowd as eclectic as that on the sidewalks of Melrose Avenue. For those going to the theater, shopping or just hanging out and cruising, the coffee shop is a great place to frequent. In fact, it has already attracted a faithful neighborhood following.

Watching the People

At 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., the long, old-fashioned diner-like restaurant is a fun place to sit and people-watch: young punks in their leather jackets and chains; well-to-do yuppies in their expensive casuals with their expensive dates, stately bankers and producers, actors and musicians--they're all there.

The fact that Mel 'n Rose's doesn't yet have a liquor license (they expect to be serving beer and wine soon) doesn't appear to have hurt its popularity. Another thing that might contribute to the coffee shop's success is the absence of a blaring jukebox. Visitors can converse without having to scream.

The only problem with the place, when it first opened, was that one sometimes had a long wait for food. This, though, says Bob Miller, is no longer the case, as the formerly tiny kitchen has been enlarged and the staff has been expanded.

Mel 'n Rose's Coffee Shop, 7313 Melrose Ave., open 24 hours; (213) 930-0256.

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