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The Johnson Inn Restaurant from “Beautiful Girls”

May 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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The other Beautiful Girls location that I was most excited about stalking (second only to the main houses used in the movie, of course), while in Minnesota two weeks ago, was the Johnson Inn – the local “Knight’s Ridge, Massachusetts” watering hole where Willie Conway (aka Timothy Hutton), Tommy “Birdman” Rowland (aka Matt Dillon), Paul Kirkwood (aka Michael Rapaport) and the rest of the gang hung out in the flick.  Interestingly enough, two locations actually stood in for the Johnson Inn in Beautiful Girls – one location was used for the interior scenes, while a second one was used for the exteriors.  Fellow stalker Owen tracked down both locales for me thanks to his Beautiful Girls master locations list, but, sadly, while the exterior location is still alive and well, the interior – a Minneapolis-area restaurant named Winfield Potters – closed its doors over a decade ago.  :(  But because the locations were the site of one of my very favorite scenes from the movie, I just had to stalk both of them.

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The above-mentioned favorite scene – and believe me, I know that over the past week I’ve described numerous Beautiful Girls scenes as my “favorite” :) – involves professional piano player Willie Conway leading his buddies in a sing-a-long of the classic Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline”.  And even though my dad has been a lifelong fan of the singer, before watching Beautiful Girls for the first time back in 1996, I don’t think I had ever heard any Neil Diamond songs in their entirety.  But once I saw the Beautiful Girls “Sweet Caroline” scene, that was it for me – I suddenly, and unexpectedly, became a total ND junkie!  Even now, fourteen years later, I am still a HUGE fan and my iPod is stocked with pretty much every song the guy ever recorded.  All thanks to one very brief scene from a movie that premiered almost one and a half decades ago.  

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Because the “Sweet Caroline” scene had such a huge impact on me, I was absolutely DYING to stalk the spot where Willie C. and Company had so memorably belted out that “good times never seemed so good”.  So, you can imagine my heartbreak when Owen emailed me to let me know that Winfield Potters restaurant, which did indeed used to have a piano in the bar area for patrons to play, was no longer.  UGH!  Such an incredible bummer!  But I still just had to stalk the restaurant’s former location, which has since been turned into an office building for a company called Clientek.  

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According to a super nice and very informative waiter at a nearby restaurant my parents and I had dined at earlier that day, the Winfield Potters patio used to be quite the popular spot for Minnesota diners during the warm summer months.  So, amazingly enough, once Clientek took over the space, they opted to keep the patio intact in order to host barbeques and events for their employees during temperate weather.  

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While there, I was absolutely FLOORED to discover a plaque honoring the former Winfield Potters location on the wall outside of the patio area.  So darn cool!  Of course, I think there should also be a notation on the plaque which touts the restaurant’s cinematic history, as well, but I digress.

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I, of course, also peeked inside the Clientek offices to see if I could spot any small piece of the restaurant which still remained, but, sadly, there wasn’t anything.  I can’t tell you how heartbreaking this particular stalk was for me, as I had so badly wanted to see Willie C.’s piano.  Sigh.

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I am happy to report, though, that the Marine General Store, the small grocery store which was used for the exterior shots of the Johnson Inn, looks very much the same today as it did when Beautiful Girls was filmed back in 1996.  There are some differences, of course, but for the most part, the location is very recognizable from the movie. 

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And, even though no filming actually took place there, I just had to stalk the interior of the General Store, as well.  While doing so, I asked the girl at the front counter if the movie Beautiful Girls had been filmed on the premises, to which she said, “I don’t know.  Let me check.”  She then proceeded to pull up a list of about one hundred movies on her computer screen.  Well, let me tell you, I took one look at that list and just about passed out from excitement and said, “WOW!  How many movies have been filmed here?”  The girl looked at me utterly flabbergasted and explained, “This is the list of movies we have for rent.  I thought you were inquiring about a movie rental.”  LOL  As I mentioned in a previous post, I am rapidly discovering that most people in this world have never even heard of Beautiful Girls, including, apparently, people who work at locations where filming of the movie actually took place!   

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Anyway, the girl at the counter, who was very nice, directed me to the manager of the store, who, amazingly enough, had actually heard of Beautiful Girls and even knew about its filming.  She told me that the big fight scene between Tommy “Birdman” Rowland and Steve Rossmore (aka Sam Robards) at the end of the film took place in the General Store’s back parking lot.

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Unfortunately, though, there was a van parked in front of the stairway that Tommy walks down in the scene, so I couldn’t get a perfect shot of it. 

You can watch the Beautiful Girls “Sweet Caroline” scene by clicking above.

Big THANK YOU to Owen for finding these locations for me!  :)

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The exterior of the Johnson Inn Restaurant from Beautiful Girls is the Marine General Store, which is located at 101 Judd Street in Marine on Saint Croix, about twelve miles north of Stillwater.  The interior of the Johnson Inn was the former Winfield Potters restaurant, which used to be located at 212 2nd Street SE in Minneapolis.

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3 comments

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  1. Ashley says:

    Haha I laughed so hard over the girl at the general store thinking you wanted to rent the movie! 😉

  2. Lavonna says:

    Great post…so much fun to visit the sites of actual filming.


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  1. […] of why I was stalking the place, at least.  Like the cashier working the front register at the Marine General Store in Marine on Saint Croix,  which I had stalked just a few days beforehand, when I first asked […]

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