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Mel’s Diner draws people to Eagle Bend, Minn.

Mel’s Diner

Address: 202 Highway 71 S., Eagle Bend, Minn.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Customers’ favorite: The sausage gravy over biscuits offered every Saturday morning. The meal includes two eggs and costs $2.50. Mel’s Diner offers breakfasts all day. The homemade soup, also a hit with patrons, includes chicken dumpling, chicken noodle and creamy potato with bacon or ham. Soup and sandwich costs $4.50.

Telephone: (218) 738-5063

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EAGLE BEND, Minn. — Anyone looking for a six-foot burly male cook at Eagle Bend’s Mel’s Diner will instead find petite five-foot Mel (Melissa) Wolf running the place.

The 27-year-old purchased the restaurant two years ago and its adjacent gas station and convenience store, Mel’s One Stop, last year.

She’s decorated the diner in a 1950’s theme that will soon have a renovated jukebox, she said. The menu is a combination of 50s era favorites including malts, hamburgers and fries; and lighter fare of salads, sandwiches, homemade soups and dinner specials. She recently added broasted chicken and offers a three-piece meal or take-out buckets.

Wolf has learned her management and cooking skills on the job, she said. She waitressed while growing up in South Dakota and did take one year of a restaurant-hotel management course at Alexandria Technical College. Wolf gained experience ordering food items as an assistant manager at an Alexandria convenience store and developed cooking skills during her four years as the town’s senior citizens’ nutrition center cook.

She was working at the nutrition center when she saw a for sale ad for the town’s restaurant and convenience store. She decided to start with the cafe purchase and possibly buy the convenience store later, she said.

Wolf is often asked if Flo and Alice are at the restaurant. The two are characters from the movie and TV sitcom "Alice," a story set at a cafe also called Mel’s Diner. She never saw the show that ran from the mid 1970s to 1980s. She merely named the restaurant after herself, but has since learned of a chain of Mel’s Diners in Florida.

The businesses are in a prime location on Eagle Bend’s southside along U.S. Highway 71. Next month, business will increase as cabin owners, traveling to their summer homes near Park Rapids, will make their stop at the cafe for a cup of Mel’s 75-cent coffee made from freshly ground beans.

She opened the diner on daughter Shantel’s third birthday. She’s due to deliver her second child on Mother’s Day weekend, which is also the fishing opener and the area’s prom weekend.

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"That will be another interesting weekend in our family’s and restaurant’s life," she said.

She’s also a step-mom to husband Todd’s sons, Brett and Evan.

Wolf has good employees to help her with the two businesses. There are five workers employed at the convenience store and nine at the restaurant, she said. Wolf splits her time between the two and often opens the cafe at 6 a.m.

The gas station opens at 6 and closes at 11, she said.

— Carol Stender

If you have a favorite restaurant that you would like to have featured in Agri News, drop us a note. You can write us at Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903. Or you can call us at (507) 285-7659 or e-mail wilmes@agrinews.com.

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