The actual restaurant building, on which this show is based, is located in Phoenix, Arizona, at 1747 NW Grand Ave. It is currently called Pat's Family Restaurant. It was known as "Mel's Diner", from 1976 to 1985. Google Earth's ground view still shows the name as "Mel's Diner".
Tommy was originally played by Alfred Lutter III, (who played the role in the film). He was later replaced by Philip McKeon, Nancy McKeon's older brother. Nancy and Philip McKeon acted together in two episodes of this show. Nancy is best known for her role of Jo Polniaczek, on The Facts of Life (1979).
The show may have been loosely based on "Mel's Diner" on 1747 NW Grand Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. However, nothing but the lighted sign with the coffee cup was used. Nothing about the set (staged and filmed in Burbank, California) is even close to the diner's actual interior layout. "Pat's Family Diner" was the original name, and since then, has been re-named, "Mel's Diner".
Alice's husband was portrayed violent and abusive in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore(1974). Flashbacks involving the husband, and Alice's conversations about the husband, referred to him being abusive. Any references to Alice's husband being abusive were erased from the television show, though, because it was decided that this would alienate the viewers, and detract from Alice's everywoman quality.
There was an agreement among the writers of this show, that if they found themselves in a joke, out of which they couldn't get, they would just give one of the characters a funny costume or a funny hat.
Vic Tayback and Diane Ladd were the only series regulars that were in the movie. Alfred Lutter, who played Tommy in the movie, also appeared in the pilot, but then was replaced by Philip McKeon by the second episode. Diane Ladd, who played Flo in the movie, briefly played Belle in the series, and Mel was always played by Vic Tayback.
Philip McKeon was actually the second person to play Tommy on the show. Alfred Lutter, who portrayed Tommy in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), the original film, on which Alice the television series was based, reprised his role for the pilot episode of Alice. After that, he was quickly replaced by Philip McKeon.
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) was supposed to be an Oscar vehicle for Ellen Burstyn, hot off her success from The Exorcist (1973). It worked: Burstyn won the Oscar, and the success of this movie fueled more women's movies and television shows, including the long running spin-off of this movie, Alice (1976).