The 101 Coffee Shop from “Swingers”Nov 15th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: Jennifer Aniston Locations, Movie Locations
One location that I have wanted to stalk ever since moving to Los Angeles over a decade ago, but didn’t because there were numerous erroneous reports floating around online which stated that the place had since closed down, was the 101 Coffee Shop which appeared in the 1996 movie Swingers. It wasn’t until Mike, from MovieShotsLA, pointed out the restaurant to me while driving by it after we finished our tour of Paramount Studios back in September that I realized the location was, indeed, still open for business. I added the cafe to the top of my “To Stalk” list that very day and when fellow stalkers Lavonna, Beth, Debbie, and Connie came out from Ohio for a Hollywood stalking trip a few weeks later, we all hit the place up for a quick bite to eat.
Apparently, there is quite a bit of confusion surrounding this particular location, so I thought I’d put all the mystery to rest with today’s post. The diner, which is located on the first floor of the Best Western Hollywood Hills Hotel, originally opened in the 1930’s and was named the “Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop”. In 1994, the restaurant, which was faltering at the time, was taken over by a French chef named Susan Fine Moore and her husband, Michael, who revamped the property’s interior and updated its menu to include an array of standard comfort foods along with some Mexican dishes. Of the new menu, which vacillated greatly from L.A.’s typical low-fat fare, Fine said, “We kind of pride ourselves on being an oasis from all that craziness. There’s a new diet, a new fad every week, but actually people seem a little bit less obsessed than they used to be about diets. Otherwise we wouldn’t be so busy. Generation X is lovely – they’ll eat anything. And the older generation is figuring, I suppose, who wants to live to 108 if you can’t put butter on your potato?” Love it! The Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop really started to take off under the helm of Susan and Michael and it was at that point that the place, thanks to its high-quality food and laid-back attitude, started attracting celebrities. A few stars who were known to frequent the diner include Brad Pitt, my girl Jen Aniston, Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnny Depp, Andy Garcia, Minnie Driver, Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Kevin Spacey. After losing their lease in July of 2001, Susan and Michael moved their restaurant two miles east to a new location at 1745 North Vermont Avenue, but the place, sadly, closed down shortly thereafter. In the meantime the former Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop space was leased to new owners – Warner Ebbink and Brandon Boudet of the Eat Heavy Restaurant Group – who opened a new eatery in its place.
That new restaurant is named the 101 Coffee Shop and, let me tell you, it is a VERY cool place. Ebbink, who has a passion for architecture as well as food, redesigned the property’s interior himself, modeling it after the old-time cafes of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Boudet serves as the head chef and, under his tutelage, the eatery still serves up high-quality comfort food, including macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and gravy, and tuna melts. For the foodies in your group, more highbrow offerings, like the Grilled Tandoori Salmon Sandwich, the Kale “Greek” Salad, and the Grilled Albacore Tuna Burger, are also on the menu. And, despite the change in ownership, the restaurant is still a big time celebrity hotspot. Fellow stalker Chas ran into both Nicolas Cage and Matt LeBlanc on two separate occasions while dining at the cafe. So, while the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop is no longer in operation, the 101 Coffee Shop is alive and well, and, despite the remodel, is still very recognizable from Swingers.
Then out-of-work actors Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau actually wrote the screenplay for Swingers over several meals at the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop. (The restaurant seems to be something of a lucky charm for writers as the pilot episode of the extremely successful CBS comedy series Everybody Loves Raymond was also penned in one of the cafe’s back rooms.) According to a November 1998 New York Times article, Favreau and his good friend Vaughn used to frequent the diner regularly. Of the restaurant, Favreau said, “It was like a family atmosphere. We didn’t have a lot of money, and I lived in a tiny apartment up the block. I loved the people who ran the place, who made you feel like a big shot, even if you weren’t. Very good portions – you never left hungry.” Once the screenplay was sold, Favreau decided to use the restaurant as a filming location for no less than three scenes in the movie! The Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop first appears in the opening scene in which Mike (aka Favreau) talks to Rob (aka Sex and the City’s Ron Livingston) about how to get his girlfriend back.
That scene was filmed in the second booth to the left of the restaurant’s main door, which, despite the remodel, still looks very much the same today as it did in the movie.
The scene in which Trent (aka Vince Vaughn) tells Mike that he is “all growns up” was also filmed at the cafe. The booth where that scene was filmed is, sadly, no longer there. It looks as if the restaurant also had some sort of a grocery section at the time the movie was filmed, but it no longer does today.
The movie’s ending scene, in which Trent thinks a fellow diner is making goo-goo eyes at him, also took place at the former Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop.
In more recent years the coffee shop stood in for Winkie’s, the diner where Lorelai (aka Lauren Graham), Rory (aka Alexis Bledel), and Emily Gilmore (aka Kelly Bishop) stopped to grab a bite to eat while on their way to North Carolina to attend Mia’s wedding in the Season 7 episode of Gilmore Girls titled “Gilmore Girls Only”.
Randomly enough, Gilmore Girls filmed in pretty much the exact same spot where Lavonna, Debbie, Connie, Beth, and I ate lunch! So cool!
In the Season 1 episode of Entourage titled “Date Night”, Vincent Chase (aka Adrian Grenier), Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase (aka Kevin Dillon), Eric Murphy (aka Kevin Connolly), and Turtle (aka Jerry Ferrara) grab some breakfast at the cafe on the morning of Vince’s big movie premiere.
Some filming for that episode also took place outside of the coffee shop.
The Entourage boys returned to the cafe to film the Season 7 episode of the show titled “Buzzed”, in which Turtle’s credit card is rejected after he tries to pick up the gang’s lunch tab.
The coffee shop was also featured twice in the 2007 movie In the Land of Women. It was first seen in the opening scene in which Sofia Bunuel (aka Elena Anaya) breaks up with Carter Webb (aka Adam Brody).
And it was used in the ending scene in which Carter meets Janey (aka fave actress Ginnifer Goodwin).
Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for telling me about this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The 101 Coffee Shop, aka the former Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop from Swingers, is located at 6145 Franklin Avenue, on the first floor of the Best Western Hollywood Hills Hotel, in Hollywood. You can visit the restaurant’s official website here.