Born Alice Spivack of Newark, New Jersey; Alice always dreamed of a singing career. She spent a while in New York, but didn't get too far. Later, she went back to Jersey, and married trucker Donald Hyatt, whom she truly loved. Alice and Don had a son, Tommy. When Tommy was twelve, Don passed away. Alice then left New Jersey. When her car broke down in Phoenix, Arizona she got an apartment and then a job at Mel's Diner. Alice was always the most practical waitress, and she really was the one everyone called on to do things. Her apartment was the hub for her friend's many gatherings. After nine years, she made it with singer Travis Marsh, and went on the road with him at the show's close.
Mel is the stingy boss of the diner. He throws insults to all of his waitresses: he frequently calls Vera "dingy", is always there to comment on Flo or Belle's promiscuity, and Jolene's down-home style. He does care about his waitresses. He also has a love interest for most of the series, Marie. Marie and Mel make up so many times, but towards the end of the series, Mel is a swinger, relying on his little black book again. Mel's a native of Brooklyn. In season 4, his mother pops up, and then by season 9, she's definitely a semi-regular. She and Mel fight a lot. Many times when she visits, she cooks at the diner and brings in more business. Also, she sometimes makes Mel uncomfortable, as she has bought his apartment building, etc.
Vera's the well-mannered waitress who is knowledgeable in some areas, but doesn't understand a lot of dialogue that others use. She eats meat, though she doesn't like to think about where it comes from. For example, when asked about where beef comes from, she thinks the grocery store and forgets about the farms, and thinks that ham doesn't come from pigs, but from Baked Virginia. She can over-react to many things, even when Mel describes Marie shutting the door on the flowers he presents to her, and "chopping their little heads off." Vera's landlady causes a problem in the diner, but then the woman falls in love with Mel because he eats. Vera also dates Mel's cousin Wendell. Wendell, who asks Vera out, is shy. He asks Mel to help him become a "ladies man," and in turn he's just a thin Mel Sharples something Vera doesn't like. Vera hits it off with Wendell when she sees the other side of him the side she accepted to go out with. Vera has one major love interest: Elliot. Vera, jaywalking by accident, finally meets Elliot Novack as he gives her a ticket, and they fall in love and get married, though the Minister, mixed-up, marries her to Mel during the rehearsal (Elliot was on an assignment and Mel stood in for a moment).
Alice's sharp-tongued son is always there to offer an opinion to any of his mother's friends, who, to him, are part of his family. He gets Alice into many predicaments: once Tommy needs to learn the facts of life, to the time eight years later when he, drunk, leaves her boyfriend's car on the side of the road. Tommy thinks that Mel is interesting, and like his father, though he likes to insult Mel a lot. Tommy is a star basketball player in high school, and goes on to play in college, though he is reluctant for a while due to intimidation, until a real pro--Meadowlark Lemon--tells him to keep on in there, if he wants to achieve a goal.
Florence Jean Castleberry
Flo is the waitress who's favorite phrase is "kiss my grits!". If someone now hears this, they still think about "Alice", or maybe the short-lived spin-off "Flo". Either way, it's a hillarious phrase. Flo uses it constantly, as well as "When donkeys fly!!". Flo tries to help Alice and Tommy, and any of her other friends the most she can. Flo's from Texas. She has the wit that Mel needs around his diner whether he knows it or not. She's the only southerner there, and she's darn proud of it, too. Flo uses "kiss my grits!" in many situations when Mel just won't listen, to a time when Mel sells the diner and wants it back, and the owner won't give it back to Mel, and he fires the girls. Her phrases were often immitated by Alice, Vera, some guest stars (such as Eve Arden), and even Mel.
Brought in to replace Flo, we learn that Belle and Mel have a history. Belle was one of Mel's first waitresses when he came to Phoenix and opened his diner. From the minute that Vera mentioned her coming, Mel lit up with joy. Then, Belle suggests something, and Mel does it until she listens to Alice and Vera's ideas. Then, she's just back where she was. Belle is a native of Mississippi. Over the course of her run, she has to stay with Alice when she can't pay her rent, thinks she's got it made when she can become a famous songwriter but finds out it's her body the singer's manager is interested in, and turns Vera into a sexpot to find out that Vera wants to be what she was before the makeover.
When Belle gets a better job while on vacation in Nashville, Jolene comes in. She goes through a series of events with her boss that leads her to quit. He comes back about a year later, and nothing's changed. Jolene is from South Carolina (this linked Alice with the Dukes of Hazzard), and gets into many situations including one time when she needs to glue her nail on, and Mel gets stuck to her when he tries to glue it on with extra strength super glue. In the finale, she buys a beauty shop and leaves Mel's, as does everyone else.
Elliot meets Vera when he gives her a ticket for jaywalking. They fall in love, and then get married a few months later. Elliot and Vera buy a house, but then Vera's former landlady steps in because she has no place to live, and in one episode, the crazed Minister who married them comes in to rent their spare room. Vera and Elliot, in the last episode, decide to depend on Elliot's income when they discover that Vera's expecting a new addition to the Novack family.