The Pier Diner.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. A small cafe
/ diner (with green booths) on the pier, where the main cast members hang
out. Except for the school and the Pier
in general, this diner may have been used more than another other
location. Yet I don't think it even has a name on the show. But you know
it when you see it.
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. On the Balboa
Pier, in Newport Beach. But there is only one building on the real Balboa
Pier, the beloved Ruby's, a 1940's themed diner that features bright red
booths and chrome accents. This definitely isn't it.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. The diner
appears in multiple episodes (especially in Season two), beginning with
the pilot episode. You'll recognize it as the small yellow cafe filled
with green booths (and a big gumball machine).
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. An actual
restaurant on a pier.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. At the Redondo Beach Pier, in Redondo Beach, CA. In real life, it's called the Redondo Coffee Shop, a rather humble name befitting a rather humble establishment. Unlike Newport, the Redondo Pier is a working-class spot, so don't expect any frills - just coffee-shop simple. You're far more likely to encounter an earthy fisherman here, or a local tourist, than you are a moneyed denizen of Newport Beach. If you look closely during the show, you'll see people fishing off the pier right outside the windows, and there's a metal sink where they can clean the fish they catch just outside the door of the diner - so don't be surprised if, on a crowded day, the surrounding area smells of fish. But it's OK inside.
The exact address is 141 Fisherman's Wharf, on the pier, but that won't help you much. Take a look at this map of the pier before you go.
The Redondo Pier is shaped somewhat like a horseshoe. The oldest section of the pier is the straight "fishing pier" on the left (south) side (sometimes referred to as Fisherman's Wharf), and that's where you'll find the Redondo Coffee Shop: at the very (west) end of that south side (the southwest corner of the pier), near the fishing area. It's a simple, pale yellow cafe.
I shot the photo below in 2006.
Forget the take-out window that you'll find outside (on the south side), just go inside and look around, and you'll instantly recognize the place. Yes, you can have a meal here, in one of those familiar aqua green booths, just like Seth & Ryan (although the prices are a little bit higher than the looks of the place might lead you to believe). They even have that big gumball machine you see on the show. The producers occasionally stick a few palm plants outside the windows (to make it look a little more tropical), but other than that, what you see is what you get.
Like many spots on the pier, it has a great ocean view. They serve breakfast, lunch & dinner, and at least you get waiter service. (And yes, you can get pancakes here! I tried them on my last visit, and they're not bad...)
They also used the Diner location to create a fake Mexican sidewalk cafe in two different episodes. See the separate page on "Hanging' Taco" to read more about that imaginary cafe...
The Redondo Beach Pier is the most-used location on "The O.C." and it includes not only this pier diner, but also The Bait Shop, Sandy's beach office, the family planning clinic (where Theresa learned she was pregnant), and multiple picturesque vantage points where virtually all of the cast have met, walked, bicycled, skateboarded, sat and grieved throughout the run of the show.
To get to the Redondo Pier itself, just follow Torrance Blvd west all the way to where it ends at the pier. Pull into the parking area and park on the roof of the parking garage, then walk down to the pier.
Here's a map link to the location.
And here's a link to a web page about the coffee shop and the Redondo Pier.
And here (to
the right) is a photo of their actual menu (which was posted in the window
on my last visit to the pier). Click on it
for a much larger image (but ignore the reflections, I shot it through
a visit in early 2009, I noted that they had repainted the diner building.
It is no longer yellow with a green awning, it is now a dark blue
(with a yellow awning). But the restaurant inside remains the same. See
the photo below:
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. This was an easy one. As a resident of the South Bay, I've been to the Redondo Beach Pier many times. The first thing to grab my eye on the show were those sail-like art forms that decorate the Redondo Pier - you can't miss them.
I wasn't familiar with the Coffee Shop itself (I usually eat at the nearby El Torito on the pier, or grab a slice of pizza at another small spot), but I knew it was on the pier, and knew that I'd have no trouble finding it. I just wandered down to the pier and looked around for a small yellow cafe. Since the diner has an ocean view that includes the Palos Verdes hills, I knew it was on the south side of the pier - so I didn't even have to look hard. There it was - just a short walk west of El Torito.
Actually, I was surprised that I had never really noticed it before. But then again, it's not much of an eye-grabber - unless you're a fan of "The O.C.", of course.
amusing observation. In one episode (see the photo to the right), Seth
is looking at a menu at the diner. Look closely, and you'll see that the
menu reads "Redondo Coffee Shop". Yes, they used one of the actual
menus from the restaurant and apparently
forgot that it's supposed to be in Newport, not Redondo. (Or perhaps they
just didn't expect someone to freeze-frame the scene.)
O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements
are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.