Locations in films are rarely the thing an average filmgoer remembers after watching a film; it’s always about the story, character and the lines they say that later form the proverbial ‘word of mouth.’ However, when you think of great confrontations, conversations and simple exchanges, they always take place in a nice public setting – although being surrounded by a group of unknowing people rarely dulls the impact of a tense interaction.
An epiphany came after some light people-watching during a mediocre pancake breakfast – they seem to take place in a restaurant, diner or some kind of eatery; a place where some of TV and film’s classic characters can settle an old score of even debate on pop culture over a cup of coffee:
Café des 2 Moulins, Paris (Amélie, 2001)
This quaint coffee shop, where young dreamer Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) worked and interacted with a variety of characters, is based in Montmatre, Paris and its name is taken from the two historic windmills – Moulin Rouge and Moulin de la Galette. The setting where Amélie plays matchmaker and displays her talent for writing backwards has since become a famous tourist attraction – you can even sit in a special area reserved for fans of the film, and indulge in memorabilia.
Pat and Lorraine’s Coffee Shop, Los Angeles (Reservoir Dogs, 1992)
The place that houses one of, if now the best, breakfast debates in film history. Mr Brown (Quentin Tarantino) analyses Madonna songs and Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) defends his attitude towards tipping – all the while, the ensemble case deliver lines that commanded the attention of film critics everywhere, introducing Tarantino to the cinematic world. Pat and Lorraine’s Coffee Shop is a popular eatery for locals and with 26 varieties of omelette on offer, as well as polite waitresses, there is no reason to stop you leaving a tip.
Kate Mantilini, Los Angeles (Heat, 1995)
This restaurant in Beverly Hills is a popular spot for actors and directors, but the reason it is in this list is for one very simple reason: this is where they filmed the first on-screen scene between legendary actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Based on former police officer Chuck Adamson’s pursuit of real-life criminal Neil McCauley, this get-together between them also happened – according to Adamson, he and McCauley met up over coffee and discussed what would happen next. This effectively created the setting for one of the most memorable scenes in the film and to this date, Kate Mantilini receives requests from fans wishing to sit at Table #71 – more simply known as “The Table.”
Katz’s Delicatessen, New York (Where Harry Met Sally, 1989)
Any list about restaurants in films is not complete without this classic entry. Opened in 1888, Katz’s is popular for its famous pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs, but it is also a popular site used in TV and film. It has appeared in Donnie Brasco (1997) and Enchanted (2007), but none of these appearances top the famous scene where Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) fakes an orgasm in the middle of a packed diner. You can even sit in the same spot and have what she had.
For your consideration:
Old Luna Restaurant, New York (The Godfather, 1972)
The setting for the iconic scene where young Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) guns down Virgil ‘The Turk’ Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and crooked cop McClusky (Sterling Hayden) is a story in itself. Director Francis Ford Coppola originally wanted to film the iconic scene in Mario’s Restaurant as it was mentioned in Mario Puzo’s original novel. When the owner politely refused, the scene was filmed in Old Luna Restaurant, where the owners also played small roles when Michael becomes involved in the Corleone life of crime. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed down shortly afterwards and is now a fabric store. And Mario’s? They are still open.
The Quality Café/Diner, Los Angeles
Ever watched a movie and the two main characters are in a diner? They are both sitting in a booth, looking directly at each other? Chances are you will be seeing The Quality Café. A now-defunct diner, The Quality Café was open for business until it closed in 2006 but this hasn’t stopped it from being used as a popular location for numerous films and TV shows. If you look carefully, you will notice that it has been the setting for break-ups (500 Days of Summer, 2009), discoveries (Catch Me If You Can, 2002) and general people mocking (Ghost World, 2001) throughout cinematic history.