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Villapiano’s from “That Thing You Do!”

Jan 27th, 2014 | By | Category: Movie Locations

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (8 of 15)

One That Thing You Do! location that I had been trying to track down for what seemed like ages was the red-boothed Italian restaurant that stood in for Villapiano’s, the “spaghetti place out by the airport,” in the 1996 flick.  Thankfully, a couple of months ago, fellow stalker Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, tracked down and put me in touch with one of the movie’s crew members who informed me that the eatery I was searching for was the now-defunct Palomino Club in North Hollywood.  While the hot spot closed almost two full decades ago and is currently operating as a special events venue, a quick gander at Google Street View showed me that the exterior was still recognizable from That Thing You Do!, so I ran right out to stalk it while visiting L.A. a few weeks back.

The Palomino Club was originally founded in 1949 by country music singer Hank Penny.  At the time, the space located at 6907 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood was a rundown, vacant former saloon named the Mulekick that Hank described looking like “death warmed over.”  After driving by the abandoned site one day, he decided it would be the perfect spot to open a western bar/music venue.  The name Palomino Club was inspired from the tag in a shirt Penny had recently purchased.  The establishment took off and soon became far too popular for Hank, who was still a working musician, to manage, so he sold it to Bill and Tom Thomas in 1952.  The brothers continued to grow the business and it wasn’t long before it became what the Los Angeles Times referred to as “country music’s most important West Coast club.”  Just a few of the luminaries who played there over the years include Barbara Mandrell, Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Linda Ronstadt, Dwight Yoakum, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (police had to shut the place down during that concert!), Elton John, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, Elvis Costello and Glenn Campbell.

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (3 of 15)

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (5 of 15)

After the passing of Bill in 1979 and Tom in 1985, the Palomino Club started to decline and it was finally shuttered in September 1995.  At some point thereafter it became Le Monge Banquet Hall, an events venue specializing in continental, Mexican, Russian, Armenian and Persian foods.

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (7 of 15)

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (10 of 15)

The Palomino Club popped up twice as Villapiano’s, the spot where The Wonders played their first two paid gigs, in That Thing You Do!


Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (9 of 15)

The exterior of the site has changed a bit in the years since the movie was filmed, as you can see in the screen captures and photographs pictured above and below.


Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (14 of 15)

Although the shape of the signage remains the same, thankfully.  (Nice graffiti!  Winking smile)

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (12 of 15)

As depicted in That Thing You Do!, the Palomino Club originally had two front doors, one of which has since been covered over.  That door’s former location is denoted with a pink arrow below.  You can almost still see the outline of it.

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (13 of 15)

The interior of the Palomino Club was also shown in That Thing You Do!  Unfortunately, the woman working at Le Monge Banquet Hall at the time that I showed up to stalk the place would not let me take any photographs of the inside.  You can check out what it currently looks like here, though.  As you can see, the interior is not at all recognizable from its silver screen appearance.



That Thing You Do! was hardly the Palomino Club’s first brush with Hollywood.  The property has been featured onscreen countless times over the years.  In the 1971 film Minnie and Moskowitz, the establishment’s parking lot was where a reluctant Minnie Moore (Gena Rowlands) danced with her new paramour, Seymour Moskowitz (Seymour Cassel).



In the classic 1978 comedy Every Which Way But Loose, the Palomino Club was featured repeatedly as trucker/prize fighter Philo Beddoe’s (Clint Eastwood) regular hangout.



The interior was also shown throughout the movie.



The Palomino Club also popped up in Every Which Way But Loose’s 1980 sequel, Any Which Way You Can.



The interior of the bar was used in the sequel, as well.  And yes, that is a chimpanzee drinking beer in the second screen capture below.



In 1978’s The Other Side of the Mountain: Part II, the Palomino Club played the local Bishop, California hangout of John Boothe (Timothy Bottoms).



The interior of the club was featured in the movie, as well.



The Palomino was where Jake Hanson (Grant Show) rescued Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton) from some rowdy bar patrons in the Season 3 episode of Melrose Place titled “And the Winner Is,” which aired in 1995.



The bar’s interior was also used in the episode.



In the 1996 comedy Sgt. Bilko, the Palomino Club stood in for the Rusty Spur where Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko (Steve Martin) took Rita Robbins (Gleanne Headly) dancing.



The interior of the club also appeared in the movie.



The Palomino Club was apparently featured in 1969’s From Nashville with Music and 1978’s Hooper, as well, but I could not find a copy of either production with which to make screen captures for this post.

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (1 of 15)

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (6 of 15)

For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Los Angeles magazine online.  And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.

Big THANK YOU to fellow stalker Owen, from the When Write Is Wrong blog, for helping me to find this locale!

Villiapiano's That Thing You Do (2 of 15)

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Villapiano’s (by the airport) from That Thing You Do! was actually the now-defunct Palomino Club, formerly located at 6907 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.  The site is now a special events venue named Le Monge Banquet Hall.  You can visit its official website here.



Leave a comment »

  1. Jason Odd says:

    One of the Pal’ regulars reminded me that the 1981 Tammy Wynette biopic Stand By Your Man included scenes filmed at the Palomino.

    Another film Fugitive Lovers from 1975 supposedly has a scene filmed at the Palomino, Marvin Caves who worked in bands at the Pal’ in the 1970s appears onstage in the film and scored some of the soundtrack. The film credits Caves group as the Palomino band, but doesn’t guarantee the scene was filmed at the Pal.

    That TJ Hooker episode I was thinking of was from November 20, 1982, and titled Deadly Ambition. It includes guest Jerry Lee Lewis playing himself. The Palomino features in various scenes and is part of the plot. In one scene a matchbook with the Palomino logo even features as a clue in the plot. Episode finishes with the core cast attending a Jerry Lee Lewis performance at the Palomino.

    I intend to do a photo album for each year of the Palomino on the Facebook tribute page to the West coast club scene, I have some section up already.

    I enjoyed this feature immensely, thank you for sharing.

    Cheers – Jason

  2. Jason Odd says:

    The Palomino sign appears in the 1967 Marty Robbins film Hell On Wheels, and the Palomino was used for several scenes in a 1984 episode of TJ Hooker with Jerry Lee Lewis appearing in one scene at the club.
    Jay Leno also filmed a segment at the Palomino in 1995.

  3. Dave says:

    Saw BN Thomas there in concert back in the early 80’s. It was incredible

  4. lavonna says:

    Seriously..she wouldn’t let you in to take pics. UGH how rude! Love the moive, That Thing You Do…BUT The Other Side of the Mountain (FAV!!!) especially the first one. CRIED!!! Love some young Beau Bridges (in first movie)…

  5. Penny says:

    Rediculous how that woman wouldn’t let you take photos of the inside –

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