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Mel’s gone; favorites still at State Street Diner in Geneva

GENEVA – An iconic local eatery has closed, but it has been replaced by a new restaurant and menu.

In recent weeks, the former Mel’s Diner, in the 600 block of West State Street, Geneva, went out of business. State Street Diner opened soon after in the same building.

“People were surprised to see Mel’s Diner go,” owner Noe Ortiz said. “But I think they’ve been excited to see what comes next.”

For years, the small restaurant in that building had operated under the name Mel’s Diner. Since 2002, Mel’s had been operated by Noe and his wife, Karen Ortiz.

Business at the restaurant remained strong for years, allowing the couple to expand their business, opening a second Mel’s Diner on LaFox Road in Campton Hills in 2008.

They also opened Santonio’s, a short-lived venture in St. Charles specializing in Mexican food.

In the years since, the business fell upon difficult financial times, forcing the couple to declare bankruptcy and cease operations at all three restaurants. The couple closed the Campton Hills Mel’s in August, and the Geneva location in October.

They then opened a new business in the same Geneva building under the name State Street Diner.

“We started everything new,” Karen Ortiz said.

The menu still includes many traditional American diner-style foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But now the State Street Diner menu also includes an assortment of Mexican food choices at all three meals.

Karen and Noe said they had sought to add Mexican food items to the regular menu for some time. And customers have responded well to the change.

“People are asking if they can have Mexican for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner,” Noe said. “And the answer is, ‘Yes.’ ”

The restaurant is open seven days a week, and hours of operation will soon change to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Noe said.

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