Mel's Diner staying true to classic TV sitcom

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Mel's Diner became a fixture in television history after it became famous on a sitcom called "Alice." A Valley couple is breathing life back into this blast from the past.

"Kiss my grits" was just one of the many catchy phrases on the television sitcom "Alice." The show enjoyed a nine-year run from 1976 to 1985 and revolved around characters at Mel's Diner set in Phoenix.

While the show was filmed in California, it was a location on Grand Avenue with a tipped coffee cup sign that could be seen in the show's opening credits.

“My uncle bought this place five years ago and I was working for him, same with my husband,” said owner Pareskevi Stamatouli. “He then got tired and always liked to try something new, so he knew we could handle the place. And then we saw people taking pictures from the sign and my husband did the research and he found out about this place, that they actually filmed the outside sign for the show.”

While this location has changed ownership and names over the years, current owners Stamatouli and her husband, Manolis Stivaktakis, are finally giving people a real Mel's Diner experience.         
 
"The name Mel's Diner I put up because a lot of the people called me and asked for Mel, Mel, Mel and I said, 'OK that's Mel’s diner,'" Stivaktakis said.

Not having ever watched Alice until a few years ago, the husband and wife have put up all kinds of memorabilia to give customers that same feel they could see on television.

"I said, 'Cool, so people like this,'" Stivaktakis said. “I put some pictures up. I have an old script.”

The couple even added pictures on placemats and menus and brought back similar uniforms worn on the show. But it doesn't stop there. The owners admit they get all kinds of requests.

“Can you say kiss my grits or where is Mel? Are you Flo?” Stamatouli said. “I do have an accent, OK. It's not going to be the same, so I'm trying sometimes.”

Customers not only like the walk down memory lane, but it's the family-like feel that keeps them coming back for more.

“I think it's great,” Joe Sims said. “They've done a real good job and they've brought back almost like it was set back in the show.”

“Great food, great atmosphere and great service,” Felix Puchinsky said.

“It's like a different kind of diner,” Stamatouli said. “You’re not going to a restaurant and eat and they throw the food on the table and you just leave and come back for the check. Here we talk and we tease.”

Mel's Diner is located on 1747 N. Grand Ave. For more information call 602-252-8283 or go to their Facebook page, or Mel's Diner. You can also e-mail melsdinerphoenix@gmail.com.