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Mel's Diner - Truck stop eatery featured on the situation comedy ALICE/CBS/1976-85.

Mel's Diner - ALICE

Located at 1030 (or 2128) Bush Highway in Phoenix, Arizona, Mel's Diner is owned and operated by Melvyn "Mel" Emory Sharples (Vic Tayback), a crusty veteran of the Navy who still wears a white navy cap as he served up various items on the menu, including Mel's Famous Chili, the favorite dish of the house. The diner was also known as the home of the 14 ounce cup of coffee.

Mel's catchphrase was "Stow it!" (when he wants someone to shut up or knock it off).

Regulars to the diner included:

  • Marvin Kaplan as Henry, a henpecked telephone lineman
  • Dave Madden as Earl Hicks

Over the years, Mel's pink-costumed waitresses were:

  • Linda Lavin as Alice Hyatt
  • Polly Holliday as Florence Jean "Kiss my Grits!" Castleberry
  • Beth Howland as Vera Louise "Dinghy" Gorman
  • Diana Ladd as Belle Dupree
  • Celia Weston as Jolene "Blondie" Hunnicutt

Cast of ALICE (Flo, Alice, Mel, Tommy, Vera)
Flo, Alice, Mel, Tommy and Vera

Alice Spevack Hyatt was a widowed aspiring singer who moved from New Jersey with her 12 year-old-son, Tommy (Philip McKeon). They lived at the Desert Sun Apartments then the Phoenix Arms Apartments (Room 108).

Outspoken Flo was a man-hungry waitress who didn't take sass from anyone. Her catchphrase was "Kiss my Grits!" She lived in a mobile home at Desert Trailer Court. Flo later left Mel's to run a roadhouse in her hometown of Cowtown, Texas which she renamed "Flo's Yellow Rose."

Vera Louise Gorman was klutzy, scatterbrained and the most quiet of the waitresses. When ever she had an idea or suggestion, Mel called her a "Dinghy".  Her claim to fame was having a famous celebrity for a cousin, namely Art Carney.

Belle Dupree who replaced Flo was a feisty Missouri born waitress. She wrote country western songs and lived at 1112 Ashton Drive (and then with Alice when she can't pay her rent).

Cast of ALICE (Belle, Alice, Vera, Mel)
Belle, Alice, Vera and Mel

Jolene Hunnicutt, who is from South Carolina, lived at the Pine Valley Apartments. Mel called her "Blondie." She replaced Belle after she found a job as a backup singer while on vacation in Nashville. Jolene is related to Boss Hogg of Hazzard County.

Mel's loudmouthed mother Carrie Sharples (Martha Raye) who was even more obnoxious that Mel relocated to Phoenix and moved in with her son at 634 Plainview Drive. She soon began to interfere in Mel's day-to-day operations at the diner.

On March 19, 1985, Mel closed the diner. After 27 years, he sold the property to the Ferguson brothers who planned to demolish the diner. Surprisingly, the usually cheapskate Mel gave each of his waitresses a $5000 bonus. He had paid his waitresses $2.90 an hour.

Alice decided to move to Nashville to pursue her singing career as a singer with the Travis Marsh band. Jolene planned to opened a beauty salon with funds inherited from her grandmother. And Vera, who had married police officer Elliott Novack (Charles Levin), was pregnant and looking forward to motherhood.

Cast of ALICE - Jolene Hunnicutt and Vera Gorman
Jolene Hunnicutt and Vera Gorman

Mel: It's so salty!
Vera: Oh, we got salt in everything.
Mel: Why?
Vera: We used the salt to put out the fire.
Mel: What fire?
Vera: The fire that started from the grease.
Mel: What grease?
Vera: The grease from when we cooked 20 pounds of bacon and 13 pork chops!
Mel: When did you cook 20 pounds of bacon and 13 pork chops?
Vera: We had to before they spoiled.
Mel: Why would they spoil?
Vera: Oh, well, someone left the freezer door open all night during the excitement when the paramedics came.
Mel: Paramedics!
Vera: Yes! They had to take some stitches in Henry's head.
Mel: Stitches in Henry's head?!
Vera: Yes! I dropped a pie on the floor and he slipped in it and hit his head on the counter. And that's why your chicken is salty!

TRIVIA NOTE: The series is based on the Martin Scorcese theatrical film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) starring Ellen Burstyn as Alice Hyatt.

Diane Ladd who played Flo in the movie version hired on the show as Bell Dupress, who replaced Flo Castleberry when she left the show for her own spin-off series FLO/CBS/1980-81.

On the first episode Mel's Diner is called "Mel and Ruby's Diner" as in the movie which was set in Tucson.

The diner used on the show was located in Phoenix, Arizona, at 1747 NW Grand Ave. It has since been renamed Pat's Family Restaurant.

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