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The Old Place from “Scorpion”

Jul 12th, 2017 | By | Category: TV Locations

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There are some spots in L.A. that I miss more than others.  The Old Place pretty much tops that list.  I first stalked the rustic eatery, tucked away on a forested road in the picturesque mountain town of Cornell, in 2011 and was immediately smitten.  Because the restaurant is only open Thursday through Sunday and because I don’t get out to the Cornell area very often since moving to Palm Springs, I haven’t been able to frequent it as much as I’d like.  So I was thrilled when it popped up in a recent episode of my latest TV obsession, Scorpion.  Though I blogged about the Old Place after my initial visit six years ago, come to find out, I missed a lot of the restaurant’s onscreen appearances in the post.  As such, I figured it was definitely time for a redeux.  So here goes.

The history of the Old Place was covered pretty extensively in my 2011 write-up, but I thought I’d include a brief recap here, too.  The eatery was originally founded by Tom Runyon (Los Angeles’ Runyon Canyon is named after his family) and his wife, Barbara, in a former general store/post office that dates back to either 1884 or 1914, depending on which publication you happen to be reading.

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The couple purchased the site, which at the time was abandoned, in 1969 and spent the next year transforming it into a rugged restaurant.

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Tom did most of the work himself, salvaging unique items to use as décor.  Booth backs were created out of doors from a San Francisco hotel, columns flanking the end of each booth came from the Old Santa Barbara Mission, and the bench that runs the length of the 30-foot antique bar was fashioned out of a wooden diving board.  The result of his efforts is a majestic, intimate, and one-of-a-kind spot.

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The minuscule restaurant consists of five booths, three tables and a scant forty seats – and for many years had only two employees, Tom and Barbara.  Tom served as the chef, cooking up the only two items on the menu, steak and clams, while Barbara manned the bar and worked as the waitress.  Despite the tiny confines and limited menu offerings, the Old Place thrived – and became a celebrity hotspot, serving up the likes of Ali MacGraw, Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Jack Lemmon, Dolly Parton, Emilio Estevez, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan.  Elvis Presley even stopped by in February 1966 while in town filming Spinout.  (You can see some photos of him out in front of the eatery here.)  In recent years, Britney Spears has been known to pop in.

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When Tom passed away in 2009, Tom and Barbara’s son, Morgan, took over the restaurant, along with Tim Skogstrom, who runs the Cornell Winery & Tasting Room next door.  The duo expanded the menu and wine list and added a credit card machine, but left the rest of Tom’s creation virtually untouched.  One step over the Old Place’s threshold and guests are immediately transported back in time.

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The site’s low-slung ceiling, wood-paneled walls, dimly-lit sconces, and friendly servers all add to the warm, intimate atmosphere.  It is hands-down one of my favorite spots in all of Los Angeles – as evidenced by its prominent placement on both My Must-Stalk List and My Guide to L.A. – Restaurants.  I honestly cannot say enough good things about the restaurant.

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Thanks to the eatery’s uniquely rural charm, location managers have flocked to it over the years.

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Which should come as no surprise – the Old Place looks like it jumped straight out of a Western movie set.

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Back in 1964, when the site still housed a general store/post office, Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) stopped there to pick up his boss’ mail in the Season 2 episode of The Fugitive titled “Tug of War.”

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Two years later, the property popped up once again on The Fugitive, this time as a sheriff’s station in Season 3’s “Stroke of Genius.”

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In 1972, the Old Place was used as the exterior of Elmo’s restaurant in the Season 5 episode of The Mod Squad titled “The Thundermakers.”  (Interiors were filmed elsewhere.)

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Sy Rogers (Gary Sandy) worked at the Old Place in the Season 5 episode of Barnaby Jones titled “Renegade’s Child,” which aired in 1976.

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In the 1977 action film Telefon, the Old Place masqueraded as The Dougout, the Halderville, Texas bar where Barbara (Lee Remick) and Major Grigori Borzov (Charles Bronson) fought spies.

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Only the exterior of the site was utilized in the flick.  Interior scenes were shot on a set constructed at MGM.  Though the set very closely resembled the interior of the Old Place, it was built much larger than the actual restaurant.

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In 1987, the Old Place portrayed Last Stop Sandwich, the roadside stop where Det. Sgt. Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer) spotted Nicki Rains (Lydia Cornell) grabbing a drink in the Season 3 episode of Hunter titled “Straight to the Heart.”

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The exterior of the Old Place also popped up briefly as a Native American artifacts store in Hunter’s Season 5 episode titled “Return of the White Cloud,” which aired in 1989.  (Interiors were filmed elsewhere.)

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In 1990, the restaurant masked as the Bookhouse, aka the meeting place of Twin Peaks’ secret society, in the Season 1 episode of Twin Peaks titled “Episode 3” or “Rest in Pain.”

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The Old Place is where Vann (Owen Wilson) met Casper (Sheryl Crowe) at the beginning of the 1999 thriller The Minus Man.

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In the Season 7 episode of The X-Files titled “En Ami,” which aired in 2000, the Old Place played Cory’s Café, where Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and CGB Spender (William B. Davis) stopped for gas while in Goochland, Virginia.

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Earlier this year, the Old Place masqueraded as Montana’s Jefferson Grill in the Season 13 episode of Grey’s Anatomy titled “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?”

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And, as I mentioned in my intro, the Old Place also recently popped up on Scorpion.  In the Season 3 episode titled “Faux Money Maux Problems,” the restaurant portrayed the Simi Valley Saloon, where Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel), Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham) and Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick) sought refuge after escaping their Norteguayan kidnappers.

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Both the interior and exterior of the property were featured in the episode.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Old Place, from the “Faux Money Maux Problems” episode of Scorpion, is located at 29983 Mulholland Highway in Cornell (or Agoura Hills).  The restaurant is only open Thursday through Sunday, so plan accordingly.  You can visit The Old Place’s official website here.

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