Mel’s Hard Luck Diner, Branson, MO

Formerly known as Second Chance Diner, this classic American-style eatery has all your favorites. Burgers, patty melts, fries, and shakes are being cooked almost non-stop, but there is one way Mel’s Hard Luck Diner truly stands out. Along with your wonderful meal, patrons get the added benefit of outstanding music belted out by their very own waiters and waitresses! Yup, they sing in between waiting tables, and I truly mean “Saaang.”

Our waiter jammin’ out

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a “loud-music-while-I-eat” kind of guy. Luckily, that’s not what Mel’s is. These are truly outstanding singers, many of whom have albums, singing various classics live while they work. The song choices are typically very vocal oriented, so there is no ridiculously loud band blowing your eardrums out. I was unsure of what to expect when I walked in, but I was pleasantly surprised. Oh, and if you go, go early. We arrived shortly after they opened and the place was packed.

Another waiter singing away

Mel’s is a unique experience. The singers are a varying bunch, with one individual who fared very well on American Idol, and plenty of others who also work in the various theatrical productions around Branson. They’re professionals, not just servers who happen to have a good voice. Thankfully, the service doesn’t suffer despite them basically working two jobs at once. They’re actively tending to tables and taking orders, and every couple of minutes another individual will serenade around the restaurant. They’re spinning milkshakes, sliding orders, refilling drinks, and singing at any given time. And McDonalds can’t even get a meal right.

Speaking of meals, the food was solid. We didn’t come here expecting a Gordon Ramsay meal; it’s an American diner. You get good, simple food, WHICH IS WHY YOU GO TO A DINER! We got a patty melt, a Philly cheese steak, and fries, and we devoured it all. Would I go back for the food and experience? Absolutely. But then we got milkshakes, and those were a step above. You can watch them making the milkshakes, and they spend a surprisingly long time working on each one, which is probably why they’re so good.

The place is absolutely packed with all kinds of classic 50’s memorabilia, both diner and singing related. When you walk in, you’re instantly transported to a different world. It has that old diner feel but with a rush of excitement because of the singing servers. You definitely won’t find a similar atmosphere anywhere.

Mel’s was an awesome family experience. Our boys loved it, especially Baby J, who loves music. He was a little confused though, I don’t think he quite understood why his food-deliverer was singing. Regardless, it was a good time for all and I’d definitely recommend checking out Mel’s when you’re in the Branson area. Plus, if you really like any of the singers they have their albums for sale in the shop on the way out. Good road-trippin’ music.

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