But now, the iconic diner, which is opened all year round except Christmas, is shut down after a fire on Wednesday.
Originally, owner Michael Petrogiannis thought it would be closed for months, but he is now setting an ambitious goal - to reopen the Melrose Diner as early as next week.
The call came in around 5:45 p.m. for a fire at the landmark establishment located on the 1500 block of Snyder Avenue.
The owner of Melrose Diner says he believes it started as an electrical fire. He’s been inside and says it looks bad. No word on how long the 24 hour diner that’s a South Philly staple will be closed for. @6abc pic.twitter.com/b5qt3gUV7L— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) July 24, 2019
"I kept pouring water everywhere to stop it!" said Paige, who works as a waitress at the diner.
Paige said she saw the flames erupt from under a vent and did everything she could to put it out until help arrived.
“I kept pouring water everywhere to stop it!”- Paige, a waitress at Melrose Diner says she saw the flames erupt from under a vent and did everything she could to put it out until help arrived. @DannCuellar will have the details tonight on @6abc pic.twitter.com/SSI38qPsWG— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) July 24, 2019
The one-alarm fire was quickly contained by firefighters. The owner of the landmark diner was later allowed to go inside and was heartbroken with what he saw.
"It's a lot of damage inside," said Petrogiannis.
Petrogiannis said a fire official told him initially the fire appeared to have been caused by an electrical failure.
The Melrose Diner, a longstanding tradition since 1935, is a place where many come to get buttercream cakes, creamed chipped beef, or hot apple pie in vanilla sauce with some coffee.
Marie Brumbaugh, 86, is a longtime customer.
"My husband is 91, we come here every day," said Brumbaugh.
And Anthony Bozza of South Philadelphia said, "I've been coming here since I was like 16-17 years old. I like the people. I like the atmosphere."
Petrogiannis, who owns 22 other businesses, including the Broad Street Diner, promises to rebuild the iconic Melrose.
"A beautiful place. I did this. I remodeled about eight years ago. I promised [the employees]I will be back before they know," said Petrogiannis.
The owner said he's grateful the staff and the handful of customers who were inside at the time were not injured.
He is hoping to relocate staff to the Broad Street Diner about a mile away until the Melrose reopens for business.