The diner has been around for over 21
years but it really put itself on the map when Mel Bilbo and his
wife, Liz bought it
nearly ten years ago. He added "Mel's" to the name continued the
tradition of singing servers and worked to improve the food
quality and advertising.
The service is fast but with those
talented waiters bursting into song every few minutes, you
wouldn't mind waiting.
Mel's offers a number of traditional
items that one would expect from a 1950s era diner, including
burgers, fried chicken, and blue plate specials such as pot
roast and fried shrimp. Their sandwiches make any diner proud.
Two special treats are the Reuben and a double decked BLT.
I sampled the Jimmy
Cracked Corn Chicken Chowder and a half of a Chicken Salad
Sandwich. Both were winners. The chowder was so thick and
delicious it could have passed for a stew instead of a soup. The
chicken salad was one of Brandon's secret recipes.
In addition to the traditional 50s diner
food, they feature some special items likeone of Mel's childhood
favorite a peanut butter and banana concoction, includes raisin
bread, peanut butter, and bananas along with caramel and brown
sugar. It is served with fries and some caramel for dipping the
There's a good mix of the traditional diner food and specials.
For example you can get that traditional grilled cheese you
expect at a diner but you could choose to try it "Mel's Way"
which adds bacon and ham to make a tasty, filling sandwich.
|One of the Singing Waiters
Their desserts are over the top: great
shakes and malts (still served with the extra in the tin),
awesome sundaes and banana splits so huge I defy anyone to eat
one by his/her self. Then there is the Avalanche with enough ice
cream to feed a small nation or at least
4 to 10 people.
I enjoyed one of the chocolate ice cream
sodas and can attest to never tasting a better one (and I lined
up at those 50s and 60s soda fountains with the best of them.)
What makes Mel's Diner truly unique is
the diverse group of singing servers. Over the years, two of the
servers climbed high on American Idol, one making it to 44 and
one to 20. But all of the singing servers must audition for
their position. Many also sing in Branson shows, shows outside
Branson, and on cruise ships.
The genres of music include gospel,
country, pop, show tunes and even opera.
During the time we spent there, we heard five or six great
renditions of well known songs.
I'll Fly Away sung by Kelly will inspire you. The guy who
sang Just to be Your Man could do a voice over for Josh Turner and no one
could tell the difference. Everyone of those singing waiters had
so much talent it will blow you away. The music is just as good
as the food.
|My chocolate soda
Mel must have done something right as
Mel's Hard Luck Diner is now high on the list of "must see"
spots for most Branson visitors.
Mel's Hard Luck Diner is part of the
retail / dining family which also includes Kringles Christmas
Store (where it is Christmas all year), Reflections Thomas
Kinkade Gallery, and T Charlestons Books and Gifts Shop. All are
located in The Grand Village at the heart of Branson's renown
entertainment strip, 2800 W Hwy 76.