The actual restaurant building, that this show is based on 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.
Tommy was originally played by Alfred Lutter III, (who played the role in the film). He was later replaced by Philip McKeon, actress Nancy McKeon's older brother. Nancy and Philip Mckeon (I)' acted together on two shows of Alice. Nancy McKeon is best known for her humorous role, on The Facts of Life (1979), as Jo Polniaczek.
The show may have been loosely based on "Mel's Diner" on NW Grand Ave in Phoenix, Arizona. However, nothing but the lighted sign with the coffee cup was used. Nothing about the set (staged and filmed in Burbank, CA) 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 the film "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 TV show, though, because it was decided that this would alienate the viewers and detract from Alice's everywoman quality.
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 Doug 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.
"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" was supposed to be an Oscar vehicle for Ellen Burnstyn, hot of her success from "The Exorcist". It worked: Burnstyn won the Oscar, and the success of this movie fueled more women's movies and TV shows, including the long running spinoff of this movie, "Alice" (1976).
Phillip McKeon was actually the second person to play Tommy on the show Alice. Alfred Lutter, who portrayed Tommy in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, the original film that Alice the tv series was based on, reprised his role for the pilot episode of Alice. After that he was quickly replaced by Phillip McKeon.