As you drive along a tacky stretch of Franklin Avenue, a couple of miles east of Hollywood & Highland, you'll pass a nondescript Best Western Hotel sitting on the north side of the street, just a stone's throw east of the Hollywood Freeway. Inside is what would appear to be a typical 60's coffee shop, with red vinyl booths, a counter with stools, waiters in jeans & sneakers, and water served in cheap plastic tumblers.
It's probably the last place you'd ever expect to see a star.
But guess again.
Brad Pitt stops by for their pancakes. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore used to drop by with their kids. Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Nicolas Cage, Gwyneth Paltrow and Quentin Tarantino have all put in appearances. So have Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston, Minnie Driver, Ed Burns, Bridget Fonda, Michelle Phillips, Matthew McConaughey, Gary Oldman, Sandra Bernhard and Andy Garcia.
How does this kind of thing happen, you ask? How does a seemingly run-of-the-mill diner in a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere suddenly become a mecca for young stars and writers?
Well, it's hard to say for sure...
Perhaps it all started when Jon Favreau (and Vince Vaughn), then unemployed actors, wrote the screenplay for the movie "Swingers" while spending time one in of the diner's red Naugahyde booths. They then featured the coffee shop in a key scene in the movie (where Vaughn mistakenly thinks a woman is flirting with him.)
(A poster from the film "Swingers" now hangs over that same red booth, along with other celebrity photos on the walls, and Vince Vaughn still drops by now and then.)
Perhaps it was the fact that they serve breakfast all day. The Hollywood crowd keeps odd hours, so it's not surprising that many celebrity landmarks (such as Pink's and Canter's) also are open until the wee hours. For a star driving home from a meeting in the middle of the day, a chance to grab a hot breakfast at 1 p.m. might be just what he's looking for. Especially at such a casual place with no attitude problems.
Or perhaps it was the food. It's quite good. Owners Susan & Michael Moore, with training in French cooking, serve up what might be called "American comfort food": some mean blueberry pancakes, good omelets, a tasty corned beef hash, huevos rancheros, waffles, french toast made from croissants, fresh-squeezed orange juice...
Obviously, late breakfast is the big thing here, but they also offer thick pork chops with mashed potatoes, meatloaf, garlic chicken, sandwiches and a very popular "cowboy chili."
Others like their "coffee cooler," sort of an espresso shake with whipped cream on top, or the "baked hot chocolate," a souffle-like dessert.
But once a place catches on, there's a particular Hollywood momentum involved, as others in the biz flock to the scene in hopes of rubbing elbows with the celebs & filmmakers spotted there.
Even before the familiar faces started showing up, there were less-recognizable industry types enjoying breakfast here, especially writers and under-employed actors. A CBS comedy team created "Everybody Loves Raymond" in the back room here.
The busiest time at the café is around around 1 p.m. on Saturday & Sunday, since the Hollywood crowd likes to sleep late and then do brunch.
Prices are certainly down to earth. A meal for two here will only set you back $15 to $25 or so.
The coffee shop is open daily, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There's a free parking lot.
The Coffee Shop is located on the bottom floor of the Best Western Hotel,
on the north side of Franklin Avenue, just east of the Hollywood (101)
Freeway, and just west of Gower Street. From Hollywood & Vine, take
Vine two blocks north to Franklin, and turn right. Go east on Franklin,
under the freeway, about two blocks, and the Best Western will be on your
left (north) side.
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