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Caffe’ Opera – aka Dog Years Diner from “American Pie”

Dec 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Shortly after selling their house a few months back, my parents moved into an apartment building in Old Town Monrovia.  Since that time, they have become regular patrons of their new favorite restaurant, Caffe’ Opera – the very spot that stood in for Dog Years Diner, the supposed Grand Rapids, Michigan-area hangout of Jim Levenstein (aka Jason Biggs), Chris Ostreicher (aka Chris Klein), Kevin Myers (aka Thomas Ian Nicholas), and Paul Finch (aka Eddie Kaye Thomas), in the 1999 gross-out comedy American Pie.  So, when my parents suggested that we dine at the eatery on my dad’s recent birthday, I jumped at the chance as, even though I wasn’t a big fan of the flick, I had always wanted to stalk the restaurant due to the fact that both the interior and the exterior of it had been used in the movie.  The building where filming took place is actually the historic Monrovia Savings Bank Building which was originally constructed back in 1923.  The bank operated at the site until 1934, at which point it consolidated with a sister branch located just up the street.  Different businesses subsequently moved into the space, until 2003 when it was taken over by Varo Angeletti, the original owner of Pasadena’s Sorriso Ristorante which I blogged about back in November, who used it as the site of his new Italian bistro, Caffe’ Opera.

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Caffe’ Opera is a FABULOUS restaurant that serves up some absolutely HUGE portions!  I opted for the Crusted Rosemary Chicken entrée and it was A-MA-ZING!  The GC and I have actually been back there with my parents twice now since my father’s birthday and the place has been spectacular each time.  Honestly can’t recommend stalking it enough.  I would suggest splitting an entrée with your date, though, as the servings are literally HUMONGOUS!

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At the time that American Pie was filmed, the Caffe’ Opera space was actually a vacant storefront inside of which producers built the interior of the Dog Years set.  The set was actually based on a real life restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan named Yesterdog Diner where Adam Herz, the movie’s screenwriter, hung out during his high school years.  You can see some photographs of the actual Yesterdog restaurant here

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Sadly, the interior of the Monrovia Savings Bank Building was completely renovated in 2000, two years after American Pie was filmed, and looks completely different today than it did onscreen. 

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Sadder still is the fact that the exterior of the building was also remodeled at the time and looks quite a bit different today than it did when filming took place, although, unlike the interior, it is still vaguely recognizable.  The changes to the exterior include the awning being swapped out, the front doors being moved to the opposite side of the building, and the large tree out front being chopped down.

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The “6 Blocks From Downtown See Great Falls” mural is, of course, not there in real life.

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But you can see the building’s then-real life “402” address plaque in the movie’s closing scene.  So cool!

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Caffe’ Opera, aka Dog Years Diner from the first American Pie movie, is located at 402 South Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia.  You can visit the eatery’s official website here.  Caffe’ Opera is located just a few doors down from the since-demolished building that stood in for the Tiki Post in fave movie Never Been Kissed (its former location was at 408 South Myrtle Avenue) and across the street from the Monrovia Coffee Company (which can be found at 425 South Myrtle Avenue), which also appeared in the flick.  Yesterdog Diner, the restaurant upon which Dog Years was based, is located at 1505 Wealthy Street SE in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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3 comments

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  1. Rich says:

    This shot was also used in the show Leverage, on the episode called “The Studio Job”.

    I was watching it and as soon as I saw it, I instantly knew it was Dog Years. The “6 blocks” wall wasn’t clearly as visible, but the first part of it was, confirming my theory.

  2. Terri says:

    I live in Grand Rapids and know the places so these movies are some of my most favorites!!!

  3. Lavonna says:

    Watched the “Pie” movies…funny! You need to find us restaurants to stalk on our next visit. I really want to go to Miceli’s in Hollywood on Las Palmas..have you stalked that site Not sure if there have been much filming there but it has a ton of history. We stopped in on our last visit but didn’t stay to eat.


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