The Old Place Restaurant from “Twin Peaks”Sep 21st, 2011 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a fellow stalker named Brad who runs a website named Brad D Studios where, among other things, he chronicles filming locations from David Lynch productions. I spent the next few hours perusing Brad’s site and was ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED to discover that every episode of the television series Twin Peaks, excluding the pilot, had been shot right here in Los Angeles. I was obsessed with the show as a teen and had always been under the incorrect assumption that it was filmed in its entirety in the state of Washington. Jubilant, I started jotting down locations left and right, one of which was The Old Place restaurant in Cornell.
I had actually first learned about The Old Place earlier this year when it was featured in the “Hidden L.A.” article from the February 2011 issue of Los Angeles Magazine. The rustic restaurant was pictured on the issue’s front cover and caught my attention immediately. And even though I was unaware that it was a filming location at the time, I made a mental note to drag the Grim Cheaper there to grab a bite to eat in the near future. Well, believe you me, as soon as I discovered that the eatery had been featured in an episode of Twin Peaks, it immediately moved to the very top of my “To-Stalk” list and the GC and I headed out there, with my good friend Erika in tow, just a few days later.
The Old House was first founded in 1969 by a writer/pilot/actor named Tom Runyon (nephew of Carmen Runyon, whom Los Angeles’ Runyon Canyon was named after) and his wife, Barbara. The couple purchased the former Cornell post office and general store, a building which dates back to 1914, and transformed it into an Old-West-style eatery and saloon. The restaurant featured just two menu items – hand-carved steak, which was cooked by Tom over a Red Oak fire, and steamed littleneck clams. On Sundays, only beef stew was served. The bar menu featured wine, apple juice, and whatever beer was in the refrigerator. Barbra was the eatery’s only waitress, while Tom acted as both chef and dishwasher. Tom, a former military man, was apparently a very direct, no-frills type of guy who ran his cash-only, five-booth, 40-seat watering hole with the mantra, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” The Old Place was a success from the very beginning, attracting the likes of Billy Gale, Bob Dylan, Ali McGraw, Steve McQueen, Robert Mitchum, Burgess Meredith, Sam Peckinpah, Katharine Ross, Jason Robards, Linda Ronstadt, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Peter Strauss, Sissy Spacek, Twiggy, Robert Blake, Goldie Hawn, Jack Lemmon, Larry Hagman, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, Peter Yarrow, Emilio Estevez, and Nancy and Ronald Reagan. When Tom Runyon passed away on July 17th, 2009, Tom and Barbra’s son, Morgan, took over the restaurant, along with Tim Skogstrom, who runs the Cornell Winery & Tasting Room next door. The two made a few improvements to the property, tripled the size of the menu, and added a credit card machine. Other than those minor tweaks, though, little at The Old Place has changed since Tom first opened it over four decades ago.
To say that The Old Place is unique would be a vast understatement! It is hands down one of the coolest restaurants that I have ever visited in my entire life! I literally felt like I was eating in the middle of a movie set. Tom created the restaurant’s booths out of actual doors which once hung in a San Francisco hotel, the columns located at the end of each booth originally stood in the Santa Barbara Mission, and the bench at the 30-foot antique bar was fashioned from an actual wooden diving board.
But not only does the place just exude character and ambiance, the food is DIVINE! In his write-up of the restaurant, Brad stated, “If I had the choice of one last meal on earth, it would be from this place.” And I have to say that I would agree. The GC opted for the night’s special, Thai-themed mussels, which he said were simply INCREDIBLE; Erika ordered the beef stew, which she loved; and I devoured all that I could of my larger-than-life serving of the rosemary-pale-ale chicken. The three of us also shared an absolutely sinful order of the noodle-and-cheese bake, which can only be described as OH-MY-GOD-GOOD. Needless to say, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED The Old Place and absolutely cannot recommend stalking it enough!
In the Season 1 episode of Twin Peaks titled “Episode 3” or “Rest in Pain”, the interior of The Old Place stood in for the interior of the Bookhouse where Special Agent Dale Cooper (aka Kyle MacLachlan) and Sherriff Harry S. Truman (aka Michael Ontkean) interrogated Bernard Renault (aka Clay Wilcox). That scene was filmed at the very rear of the restaurant, just to the left of the side door which leads out to the restrooms.
One of the restaurant’s bartenders also informed me that The Old Place was where the “Tequila” scene from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was filmed, but, as you can see in the screen captures above, I do not believe that information to be correct. While similar, the bar which appeared in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure seems to be much larger than The Old Place. And, according to this 2007 article which ran in the Pepperdine University Graphic, the interior of the restaurant was once recreated on the MGM backlot for the filming of a Charles Bronson movie, although, unfortunately, I am unsure of which movie.
Big THANK YOU to Brad, from Brad D Studios, for informing me of this location’s Twin Peaks’ connection!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The Old Place, from the “Episode 3” or “Rest in Pain” episode of Twin Peaks, is located at 29983 Mulholland Highway in Cornell, or Agoura, depending on your GPS. The eatery is open for dinner Thursday through Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and for brunch Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can visit the restaurant’s official website here. Reservations are strongly suggested!