Iconic New Brunswick restaurant closes after 75 years

There’s a lot of sadness in Sackville ahead of Thanksgiving weekend.

Mel’s Tea Room, a college town institution since 1945, has officially closed.

Owners Wendy and Dave Epworth bought the historic restaurant in 2018, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a collapsed kitchen roof proved too much to overcome.

“We are heartbroken,” Wendy said. “Dave and I met at Mel’s. We were there every day after school. Generations of Mount Allison students have passed through here, as well as locals.”

Mel Goodwin and his family were the original owners, serving up milkshakes, banana splits and burgers for decades.

The Epworths tried to find a buyer after having to close in February, to no avail.

The building, which the couple does not own, has been sold.

“It’s a real treasure for the town and everyone loves it and I feel so bad that it’s closing after so many years of operating in this town,” Wendy said.

Kelsey Ross, a student at Mount Allison, will miss milkshakes the most.

“They had the best milkshakes in town. They were hand-swirling them right in front of you and it was so cool. I’m really sad to see it won’t be here anymore,” Ross said.

Longtime Sackville resident George Estabrooks had been going to Mel’s since he was a little boy.

“Ever since I was a boy and went to school here, Mel’s has always been a place where people congregate and it was a fixture in the community,” Estabrooks said.

University student Daisy Graham will miss the live music at Mel’s, but also said it was a great place to catch up on school work.

“It was one of the least crowded places to go to study. Most cafes are really full, but Mel’s was a really peaceful place,” Graham said.

Now that Mel’s is officially closed, the next process is to liquidate the contents of the restaurant. There’s plenty of old milkshake-making equipment for sale, as well as the iconic Mel’s sign.

The Epworths own the sign and it’s probably their biggest asset.

“I know a lot of people will be really devastated if this sign is taken down and sold, but we’ve been financially devastated by this so it could come to this,” Wendy said.

The building’s new owners asked if the sign could remain, so that it could continue to be part of the downtown landscape.

Anyone interested in owning a piece of history can message Wendy and Dave on Mel’s Tea Room Facebook page.

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