The Fall of the Mecca, One of Dallas' Iconic Diners

Categories: Food News

The Mecca sign.jpg
So long super cinnamon bun.
The Mecca, a diner with more than 75 years of plating greasy eggs and bacon, closed on Sunday after a tumultuous and short run at its location on Live Oak Street in East Dallas. The Mecca had been having financial difficulties since it moved from its long-time location on Harry Hines in the fall of 2012.

"I've put everything I had into The Mecca," says Sealy, who purchased the popular Dallas diner in 2007. Then the DART green line cut through the neighborhood and long standing restaurants started coming undone. The Mecca was one of the last to fall, but any sadness about the closure was overrun with great enthusiasm about the new location.

The old location primarily served breakfast, but the new restaurant would serve three squares a day, and Sealy hoped the increased business would help offset his new $15,500 monthly rent bill.

"We started off with a real bang," says Sealy, who admits his staff was not at all prepared for the response they received. An overwhelmed kitchen and wait staff delivered sloppy plates and poor service. Still, the problems smoothed out and it appeared that The Mecca might settle in for another few decades.

"Sales were great," Sealy says, but then last spring sales began to decline. And then last July they slowed down a lot.

Sealy did what research he knew how to do to check into his revenue problem. He checked the comment cards left at the door and penned in a book by the register. He made the rounds through the dining room to talk to diners in person. The food and service was fine, according to his customers. The problem, in Sealy's eyes, was the economy. "People aren't eating out enough," he says.

Last summer, Sealy tried to get out by selling the business, but everyone that expressed interest in the business said the rent was too high. Then, in January, he started a catering business to pad his sales.

Sealy says his catering efforts were successful in their own right, but they were too late to save the restaurant. This March he was unable to pay his rent, so he filed for bankruptcy, and as of this weekend, East Dallas is short one diner.

The restaurant's website says the closure precedes another relocation, but a subsequent opening could be a long time coming. Sealy is auctioning off the entirety of his furniture and kitchen equipment -- all those old tables and chairs shipped from the Harry Hines location are gone. He's also considering new locations that are far outside of Dallas, so he doesn't run into the same rent problem. Greenville, Tyler and Mt. Pleasant are a few of the towns Sealy is considering.

"One way or another I'm going to keep the business alive," says Sealy. He's keeping the catering business going, in order to keep the brand breathing, but it doesn't look like The Mecca will ever live in Dallas again.

Location Info

Mecca Restaurant - CLOSED

5815 Live Oak St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
31 comments
sierrassunset
sierrassunset

The building the restaurant was in on Harry Hines was the reason many people visited. The new owner ran off many of the wonderful employees that worked there and chased off customers by moving it. The rent more than tripled when he moved. Karma is what happened here!

jthop
jthop

Tried this place many times.  Despite what others are saying, I never noticed unusually high prices.  I also thought the food was decent.  However, the service was horrible!  Three times we waited OVER an hour for our meal.  That is why I quit eating there.

soopnan
soopnan

$15,500.....That's a lot of eggs, bacon, and giant cinnamon rolls. It would take a really special restaurant to cover that.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Things change - not always for the better.

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

I live in Lakewood, but spent plenty of time at the old location owing to friends who worked at Southwest Airlines always wanting to go there.  I went to the new location several times, and gave it more than a fair shot, due to my past good experiences.


Let's be real honest about the place--it was bad.  The food wasn't particularly good.  There was nothing special about anything on the menu.  But there are plenty of places in East Dallas that have unmemorable food.  


The real problem was that the service was consistently terrible.  And no--it didn't get better.  It was terrible from the day they opened until the day they closed.  I never once went and had a good service experience there.


And anyway--how do you plan to serve dinner and not get a liquor license?  How do you plan to cover that kind of rent and not get a liquor license?  This thing was doomed from the start, and regardless of what you think about the rent or the economy or the location or whatever--it's hard to blame anybody but the management for that.

animas
animas

There was no way, sadly, the restaurant could have remained on Harry Hines.  The old two story frame and brick building was literally decrepit.  There were changes of ownership before the current proprietor which were not helpful.  (listless waitstaff, an older lady cashier who was slow and sometimes inaccurate).  I had assumed that  the current owner got a deal on the new location or would get a liquor license.  We ate there many times but the food had changed somewhat from the old location.  The staff was unprepared for the opening rush and it kind of went downhill from there.  Now there are breakfast and lunch places all over the metroplex including expansion of the popular Pancake House franchise.  I am very sorry to see Mecca go but I would suggest Mansfield or Ennis rather than the other locations being considered.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

The rent amount explains why nothing has lasted in that spot since The Tipperary Inn closed several years ago.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

$15k a month for rent is not high it is outrageous.  My understanding is that you need about $300k a month in revenue to support that.


The only way I see to generate that kind of income is the approach used by some of the "bars" that used to inhabit lower Greenville.  Sell lots of beer in plastic cups.


That being said, there was a lot of space in the restaurant that was not being used.

Aaron
Aaron

I just think the Mecca's grave had already been dug. The food wasn't freshly prepared, lots of frozen stuff and Sysco crap. It all reminded me of my school lunches growing up. No the economy isn't bad, that's a downright fallacy. Dallas eaters are going out at a record rate, restaurants who serve good, fresh good usually stay open.

It was bad karma to move in across the street from Gold Rush (which isn't outstanding in its own right) and that rent is pretty ridiculous.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

I live two streets down from there, never tried the place.  Friends told me it was OK but the price point required more than just OK.  As others have said, Gold Rush is just OK, but they are priced accordingly.

Angrywhiteguy
Angrywhiteguy

"I've put everything I had into The Mecca," says Sealy..........


Does "Sealy" have a first name> Or is he a Brazilian soccer player?


Me thinks its more awesome editing by the Observers 8th grade journalism intern.

jon.e.hendrickson
jon.e.hendrickson

Blaming the Green Line is ridiculous. The Green Line has increased the consumer presence in the area. I was horrified when they uprooted from their established location. That rent is extravagant for that area. The landlord must be in the business of using that space as a "business loss" write-off.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

So a place with overpriced mediocre food and poor service in a building known for its stupidly high rent closed?

Color me shocked.

Goldrush has mediocre food too, but at least its cheap. The old Wine Therapist and Mecca will both be empty until that landlord stops trying to financially rape his tenants.

goodhughsa
goodhughsa

Perhaps they need to move someplace not so upscale.  Like a nice place out Garland Rd. or perhaps the Casa View Shopping Center.. someplace in transition where rent is cheap and lots of homes surrounding.  Just a thought.....  

jaimies
jaimies

LOL, "not enough people eating out." There are plenty of people going out to eat, especially in Dallas. The rent was obviously INSANE, but that restaurant had multiple chances to prove itself in the new location; however, the customer service was consistently poor, and there are too many good restaurants in town to eat overpriced, sloppy food. 


GreedCatchesUpWithU
GreedCatchesUpWithU

Are you trying to tell me they werent making $500 a day to cover rent?

GreedCatchesUpWithU
GreedCatchesUpWithU

Are you trying to tell me they weren't making $500 a day to cover rent? Yes, I understand all the other overhead. I am speaking of just rent.



CitizenKane
CitizenKane

I tried to like this place; but the breakfast prices at The Mecca (Lakewood location) were outrageous for the quality of food they plated !



whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

It sat empty for a while before the Mecca moved in, guess with rent at that price, its going to sit empty for a while again

jerry_leeper
jerry_leeper

Not a real surprise that a menu that worked for breakfast/lunch on Harry Hines wouldn't work for breakfast/lunch/dinner on that stretch of Greenville.Ave. Fried Chicken Tenders at the top of the lunch/dinner menu in that part of town.


People didn't stop going out to eat in July, people stopped going out for heavy fried food in July. 


Somebody needed to ask people who weren't going there what was wrong, not the people already inside the door.  Sounds like not very sophisticated management there.

Zipster90
Zipster90

Cannot believe the rent on that shitty building. Lakewood is going nuts.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

Was a regular at the Harry Hines location. Northwest Dallas peeps loved the Mecca but the decision to move was not well-received.

Greg820
Greg820

I tried to love it, but it was never more than OK.  I cannot believe the rent on that place.  That sounds insanely high.

mm32
mm32

That's sad.  But yes, we gave the Skillman/Live Oak location a couple of chances, and the food and service weren't there.  And that was the issue.  There are PLENTY of people eating out, many of them within a 7-iron of the Mecca location.

triptows
triptows

I agree, it was consistent in its being awful. My husband and I tried to like it, we went several times and the food was just plain BAD. It was also outrageously priced for a greasy spoon. We went to Mecca one Sunday and then to Boulavardier in Oak Cliff the next (for a wonderful brunch), and were shocked that both bills were the same amount almost to the penny.

It had a ton of wasted space, it was sloppily designed, the seating was uncomfortable, the plates were chipped (and a little gross --- but hey, greasy spoon is greasy spoon). It was not planned well, and frankly, I couldn't imagine trying them for dinner.

I hate to see independent businesses die, but this one suffered from lack of planning, not understanding their neighborhood audience, and ignorance of their own bad food. I could have looked past most things --- bad service, even the awkward atmosphere --- but I couldn't make it past the food.

animas
animas

@James_the_P3  A little more frank than I would be, but that sums it up completely.

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

@jaimies  "not enough people eating out"  .......yep, too funny.


A simple eggs and ham breakfast was $8.00...you want biscuits or toast ????? Add another $2.00....you want coffee ??? add another $2.00.... so a simple breakfast was $13.00...plus tax and tip !  


Rip Off !

Greg820
Greg820

@CitizenKane  Melios Bros, for all these years,still makes the best and cheapest old-fashioned breakfast around.  "Easy Ham!"

Billyjean
Billyjean

Here is the problem every thing changed when the sealy bought the Mecca and new management. Management was forced to buy cheaper food Sysco was switched to a cheaper supplier. Forced to serve old food the menu was changed to the same thing everyday rather than a variety which customers liked . No more homemade lemon aid, banana pudding cobblers bagged salads which before were hand chopped the firing of good cooks that worked there for 20 years because they had the spine to disagree with the manager that was most likely *******ing the owner. Then the best idea ever was to hire anyone who ever worked at babes so the Mecca could magically morph into babes and $$$$ wtf? why if people want to eat food from babes wouldn't they just go there . It was really bad the worst was how badly the employees were treated I'm sorry to see the Mecca close but all those who help fuck it up along the way can live with that. Please don't open the Mecca again if u do please change the name! the Mecca was more than a restaurant it was an intangible magical place where once you walked in were part of it that is not something you can buy. Before there was sincere genuine respect and appreciation of all customers the customer was a friend not just $$! Please let the Mecca rest in peace it bad enough it was tortured into a shameful humiliating death let the glory of the Mecca live in our memories please don't reopen if you do change the name becaus it will never be the Mecca again

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...