Warren McLaughlin, beloved Mel of The Monster, 53


By Albert Amateau

Warren McLaughlin, known as Mel to patrons and colleagues at The Monster, 80 Grove St., where he worked for 18 years and became general manager, died Sept. 7 at the age of 53.

He was on a subway heading to his home in Flushing when he suffered a massive stroke, according to Charlie Rice, a principal in the restaurant and life partner of the late Joe Scialo, founder of The Monster.

Mel joined Scialo as a chef in The Monster location in The Pines on Fire Island in the early 1980s.

“He was synonymous with The Monster,” Rice said. “Mel was an accomplished chef and prepared many of the famous dishes that customers loved on Fire Island. He was a ‘never say never’ guy, and when asked to do something, his answer was always an affirmative. He loved The Monster.”

As manager of the restaurant off Sheridan Square he was active in neighborhood block associations and frequently attended Community Board 2 meetings. He attended Mass at St. Joseph’s Church and was involved in Douglaston Seminary in Nassau County, Rice said.

“Mel was a den mother to many on the staff at The Monster and was a comforting nurse for many of the boys dying of AIDS,” said Rice. He took care of Fred Russo, a former bartender at The Monster, during the months before he died of melanoma on July 12.

“Mel loved trivia, Hollywood and the song ‘Strangers in Paradise’ from the Broadway show, ‘Kismet,’” Rice recalled. “When he went to the opera, he loved to dress in his tux and starched shirt and might even don his full-length mink.”

He was born on Long Island, the son of Ruth and the late Donald McLaughlin. In addition to his mother, his brother, Donald Jr., and his sisters, Nancy Layman and Teresa Bigotti, survive.

Redden’s Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.