Mel’s, For A Good Meal – And, If Needed, Help


Mel’s, For A Good Meal

– And, If Needed, Help

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Brian Wrubleski, here with daughter/business partner Alex, last week saved a patron at the table behind them from choking. He recalled that, on Alex’s first day in the restaurant business, she’d similarly been called upon to perform the Heimlich as well. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – Working in the kitchen at Mel’s at 22 late last week, Brian Wrubleski got the word:  “Somebody’s choking.”

One waitperson had already attempted the Heimlich maneuver, he was told.

Walking out onto the restaurant floor, Wrubleski saw a second waitperson was performing the maneuver on a customer who, with a morsel trapped in his windpipe, had fallen out his chair in the restaurant’s southeast corner.

He called 911.  Then he got to work.

“I couldn’t save my wife,” he recounted today, the hum of patrons’ conversations filling the room behind him.  “I was determined no one else would die in my arms.”

“I was adamant: I would save his life,” said the restaurateur and proprietor of the popular eatery at Main and Chestnut; Mel was his wife Maryellen’s nickname.

Brian, who performed CPR (the next step up from the Heimlich) eight or nine times while a police officer in Dudley, Mass., many year ago, began performing the maneuver.  A minute went by.  Two, three, then four.

“I was afraid he was going to stop breathing,” said Wrubleski, former Bassett Hospital food service director, whose wife passed away suddenly in 2014.  “But he kept right on coughing.”

After five minutes, success. “He finally got it up,” said Brian.  A life was saved.

The Cooperstown ambulance squad showed up, but no further treatment was necessary.

A happy ending:  The patron sat down and finished his meal, Wrubleski said.

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