George’s 50′s Diner from “A Cinderella Story”Jan 15th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
Another location at the very top of my Long Beach “To Stalk” list was the restaurant where Hilary Duff worked in fave teeny-bopper movie A Cinderella Story. In real life, that restaurant is known as George’s 50’s Diner and it is one of the last remaining diners of its kind in all of California. George’s Diner, which was originally named Grissinger’s Drive-In, first opened up in 1952. It was designed by architect Wayne McAllister, who also designed the famous Sands Casino in Las Vegas. In 1963, the Grissingers sold the drive-in to new owners who expanded and remodeled the place and dubbed it Lyman’s Coffee Shop. Shortly thereafter it was purchased by a woman named Terry, who re-named it Terry’s Coffee Shop and in 1974 made the fortuitous decision to hire as a chef a young man named George Alvarez. George worked at the restaurant for over two decades and then in 1996, decided to buy the place for himself, upon which he restored it back to its original 1952 design. He named the place George’s 50’s Diner, in honor of both himself and the restaurant’s original opening date.
In A Cinderella Story, George’s 50’s Diner stood in for the restaurant first owned by Hilary Duff’s father and then later by her evil step-mother, who was played by Jennifer Coolidge. Both the interior and the exterior of the restaurant were used extensively in the filming.
As you can see in the above photograph and screen captures, though, the place looks very, very different in person than how it appeared onscreen in the movie. In fact, it almost doesn’t even look like the same place. According to George and Helen, the diner’s INCREDIBLY nice owners, the restaurant was COMPELTELY remodeled for the filming.
A few of the changes made for the filming include: the interior walls being removed to make the diner appear much larger than it actually was, the real life counter being replaced with a new, much higher counter, all of the booths being covered over in fake pink and black leather, a false ceiling being installed, the ceiling fans being removed and new light fixtures hung, fake doors being added in numerous places, the entire kitchen being re-painted in a fake stainless steel color, and linoleum being laid over the restaurant’s real life carpet.
According to George and Helen, the interior and the exterior of the diner were actually remodeled TWICE during the filming – first for the scenes in which the restaurant was owned by Hil D’s dad . . .
. . . and then again for the scenes in which it was later owned by her evil step-mother.
Producers also brought in the big pink “Fiona’s” sign that ends up falling on Carter’s dad’s Mercedes towards the end of the movie. Phew! Sure seems like a whole lot of remodeling work to do. You’d think it would have been much easier to built a diner set on a soundstage somewhere in Hollywood for the filming. Which, according to IMDB’s A Cinderella Story trivia page, is exactly what they did. That information, however, is not accurate. According to George and Helen, all of the interior filming of the diner scenes – which took just about two weeks to complete – did indeed take place on location at George’s Diner. I’ll never understand Hollywood, I swear. Helen even has a scrapbook full of photographs of the filming, but unfortunately she didn’t have it on hand the day I stalked the place. Oh well, I guess that just means I’ll have to go back to re-stalk it sometime!
And a little Cinderella Story trivia for you – not only did the movie star Madeline Zima, who now has a recurring role on Californication . . .
. . . but it also starred Dan Byrd who is currently playing Courteney Cox’s son Travis on Cougartown.
A Cinderella Story is not the only production to have filmed at George’s, though. Back when the restaurant was known as Terry’s Coffee Shop, the 1994 movie Corrina, Corrina filmed on the premises. It is at the drive-in diner that Whoopi Goldberg gets Tina Majorino to communicate with her for the very first time.
George’s also appeared briefly at the very beginning of the 2007 movie Zodiac, in the scene in which Mike Mageau and his girlfriend Darlene Ferrin drive by a diner, decide it is too crowded to stay, and leave, only to be attacked by the Zodiac killer minutes later.
George’s 50’s Diner has also been featured in the movie The Real McCoy and in several episodes of the television series Cold Case. And I honestly can’t recommend stalking the place enough!!!! The food was A-MA-ZING – especially the French fries – the retro atmosphere was truly unique, and George and Helen honestly could NOT have been nicer. I absolutely LOVED the place and will DEFINITELY be back!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: George’s 50’s Diner is located at 4390 Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach. You can visit their MySpace page here.