Mel’s Commonwealth Cafe: a neighborhood meeting place


Credit: Courtesy of Mel's Commonwealth Cafe

Pictued above is the entrance of Mel’s Commonwealth Cafe. The cafe was established in Wayland more than 60 years ago and continues to serve and connect the community. “I don’t live in Wayland but I know people better here than where I do live,” owner Stu Bloomstein said. “This is where my friends and family are.”

Joyce Wu and Allie Nunn

You step into the cafe, the aroma of sizzling bacon and freshly grilled pancakes wafting towards the door. To the left, an array of various muffins and assorted pastries sits in a glass case. You notice the checkered pattern on the walls and the cheerful buzz that occupies the dining area. The hostess greets you with a smile. “Hi, welcome to Mel’s.”

Located on Commonwealth Road in Cochituate, Mel’s Commonwealth Cafe has become one of the most popular family-owned breakfast diners among WHS students. The diner opened in 1958, and it was initially named the Elmwood Donut Shop. Currently, the restaurant is in its second generation of ownership, with Paul and Stuart Bloomstein currently running operations.

In the new age of technology, Mel’s recently created a website which enables customers to read more about the establishment and place orders. However, it still holds onto the family values that it started out with more than 60 years ago.

“We have upgraded computer systems, but that’s sort of the only thing that’s changed,” Bloomstein said. “I mean, most of the staff have been here at least 20 years, some of them 30. And there’s a handful of us that have been here for 40 years. So, not much has changed.”

Even with the relatively newer employees, the same history holds true. Sophomore Carly Scheidemantel has been working there for two years, and attributes her position to the history she has with the diner.

“My grandparents have been going there for 25 years; they were [some of the] first customers to go when it opened,” Scheidemantel said. “We know the people that own Mel’s really well, and they asked me if I wanted a job, and I said yes.”

The diner’s sense of tradition shines through their meals, some of which have notable stories behind them. One of their most iconic meals, the “Mailman Salad,” was the result of word of mouth.

“[The Mailman Salad has] an interesting story,” Bloomstein said. “There used to be a mailman. His name was Tom. We didn’t really have salads on the menu but we had lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese, ham and turkey. So, he would always ask for a ‘chef’s salad.’ Then, he would walk out into the dining area, and customers would say, ‘Make me a salad like the mailman’s.’”

Another unique meal at Mel’s is the “Warrior Breakfast,” which was a result of WHS athletes frequently stopping by.

“[The ‘Warrior Breakfast’] started with the football team,” Bloomstein said. “We wanted to give the kids something since they seem to have a big appetite. It’s funny because we get a lot of customers from Weston who want the ‘Wildcat Breakfast’ as well, but we’re loyal to our Wayland customers.”

Giving back to the community is one of the diner’s priorities. Every first Tuesday of the month, they host a “Father-Daughter Breakfast,” giving dads and daughters the entire front room and a breakfast buffet. Events like these help the diner get exposure, as well as connect with those in the community. According to Bloomstein, he has seen various types of customers come through the door, making it a diner suitable for all ages.

“I think Mel’s is sort of like a neighborhood meeting place,” Bloomstein said. “I see a lot of the town’s officials meeting here. I see the police officers, firefighters and residents. It’s a nice warm neighborhood [and] community meeting place, and we have all types of customers. We have young families, and we have older retired senior citizens that come in. We [have] empty nesters whose children have moved out. It’s family-friendly. It fits all markets.”

While entering the cafe, Wayland residents are likely to see familiar faces. As Mel’s is one of the few breakfast dining areas in the town, it continues to be a very popular spot for residents. Senior Daniella Timperio, along with her close friends, spends many mornings at the cafe.

“In Wayland, there aren’t many breakfast options and a lot of people like a nice warm meal to wake up to,” Timperio said.

Mel’s serves as a place of gathering for Wayland residents, and connects the community through its food and overall “community-feel.” According to Bloomstein, it’s vital to be in touch with the community when running a family-owned business like Mel’s.

“My father always gave back to the community,” Bloomstein said. “My father was a shop coach at WHS for a while. I don’t live in Wayland, but I know more people well [in Wayland] than I do in my own hometown. This is where my family and friends are.”