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The Quality Café

Mar 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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While stalking in Downtown Los Angeles a couple of weekends ago, the Grim Cheaper and I found ourselves hungry so I suggested grabbing some lunch at the Quality Café on West 7th Street – a diner that has appeared in countless productions over the years.  When we showed up to stalk the place, though, we were shocked to discover that it was completely boarded up.  I was even further shocked to discover, once I returned home, that, aside from some brief blurbs about its filming history, I could not seem to find any information about the place online.  I was extremely curious if the cafe had ever been an actual working restaurant or if it had only ever existed as a film set.  So I contacted fellow stalker Harry Medved, author of one of my very favorite stalking tomes – Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer’s Guide to Exploring Southern California’s Great Outdoors – who was nice enough to give me the scoop on the former greasy spoon.  As it turns out, the Quality Café was indeed a real life restaurant at one point time.  It closed its doors a few years back and is now used solely for filming, although word on the street is that the place might re-open as an eatery once again in the near future.

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Being that it is completely boarded up and there is not a whole lot to see while there, the Quality Café does not make for a great stalking venue, but because it has such an incredibly vast filming history, I figured it was worthy of a blog post.

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In Catch Me If You Can, it is while dining at the Quality Café that a waiter clues Carl Hanratty (aka Tom Hanks) into the fact that Barry Allen, the alias Frank Abagnale Jr. (aka Leonardo DiCaprio) has been using, is the actual name of the comic book character “The Flash”.

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In 1995’s Se7en, Tracy Mills (aka Gwyneth Paltrow) confesses to Detective Lt. William Somerset (aka Morgan Freeman) that she is pregnant with Detective David Mills’ (aka Brad Pitt’s) baby over a cup of coffee at the Quality Café.

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Morgan Freeman returned to the Quality Café in 2004 to film the scene from Million Dollar Baby in which his character, Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris, takes Maggie Fitzgerald (aka Hilary Swank) out to celebrate her birthday.

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In Gone in Sixty Seconds, the Quality Café is the diner where Helen Raines (aka Grace Zabriskie), the mother of Memphis (aka Nicolas Cage) and Kip Raines (aka Giovanni Ribisi), works.

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In Training Day, Detective Alonzo Harris (aka Denzel Washington) and Jake Hoyt (aka Ethan Hawke) meet up at the café on their first day of working together.

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In Old School, Mitch Martin (aka Luke Wilson) takes Nicole (aka Ellen Pompeo) to the Quality Café and tries to convince her that he is actually a nice guy.

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In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, John Smith (aka Brad Pitt) and Eddie (aka Vince Vaughn) meet up at the Quality Café to discuss the failed assassination attempt of Benjamin Danz (aka Adam Brody).

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In 2001’s Ghost World, Enid (aka Thora Birch) and Rebecca (aka a very young Scarlett Johansson) spy on some supposed Satanists while dining at the Quality Café.

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In 2009’s The Stepfather, the Quality Café is where David Harris (aka Dylan Walsh) asks Michael Harding (aka Penn Badgley) to be his best man.

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In Sex and Death 101, the Quality Café is where Death Nell (aka Winona Ryder) tells Roderick Blank (aka Simon Baker) her life story.

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In 2008’s The Midnight Meat Train, the Quality Café is where Leon’s (aka Bradley Cooper’s) wife, Maya (aka Leslie Bibb), works.

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In 1993’s What’s Love Got To Do With It, the Quality Café is where Ike Turner (aka Laurence Fishburne) takes Anna Mae Bullock (aka Angela Bassett) out to dinner for the first time.

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The Quality Café was the site of a triple murder in the Season One episode of CSI: New York titled “Outside Man”.

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In the Season One episode of Mad Men titled “5G”, the Quality Café stood in for the Delight Café where Don Draper (aka Jon Hamm) met up with his half-brother, Adam Whitman (aka Jay Paulson), whom he had been estranged from for years.

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Harry Medved also let me know that, according to Marty Cummins, the key assistant location manager for 500 Days of Summer, the Quality Café is where Summer (aka Zooey Deschanel) broke up with Tom (aka Joseph Gordon-Levitt) at the beginning of the flick.

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And while the exterior of the restaurant appeared as a local hangout in 2004’s You Got Served . . .

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. . . as you can see in the above screen captures, a different restaurant was used for the interior filming.


EMBED-The Quality Cafe in Movies Mash-Up – Watch more free videos

You can watch a fabulous compilation from the Screen Junkies website of several different movies that have been filmed at the café by clicking above.

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Big THANK YOU to Harry Medved for filling me in on the restaurant’s history.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Quality Café is located at 1238 West 7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles.  The restaurant is currently closed to the public and is only available for film shoots, so I can’t say that I’d really recommend stalking it as there is just not a whole lot to see.

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9 comments

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  1. Allison H. says:

    It also features pretty prominently in the Numb3rs episode “Blowback,” 2008.

    • David Halver says:

      As an Art Director & Location Scout in LA, I can tell you for sure the Quality IS open for business as a Restaurant… but only for Breakfast & Lunch. It is NOT “boarded up” or shut down. The days that it’s “Shuttered” can vary (sometimes closed on Sundays other times Monday). Go early to see the “regulars” who eat there… some look like they just stepped out of a Fellini film!

  2. John (Bay Area) says:

    I always like your cafe & bar blogs. Its interesting that all those productions (except Mad Men) decided to use the Quality Café name instead of making up a new name each time. For the sake of realism, you would expect them to avoid a name that might trigger a memory of another movie. But at the same time, its kinda cool… almost like its an inside joke. Now I’m going to be looking for it all the time.

    • Ashley says:

      I was thinking the same thing, so interesting that they never seem to change the name of it! I totally recognized it from (500) Days of Summer as I was scrolling through the other photos :)

  3. Lavonna says:

    Some GREAT movies filmed there lets hope it re-opens!


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  1. [...] be right up his alley.  And it was!  But imagine my surprise when, while doing some research on the Quality Café last Friday afternoon, I came across a blurb on fave website LA Time Machines which stated that the [...]

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