With their chrome counters, bubble-gum chewing waitresses and menus filled with classic American delights of key lime pie, fluffy pancakes and plenty of filter coffee, the diner is an icon of state-side culture.
Not unlike a British pub, the humble diner is a staple of American life. It’s no wonder they pop up in all genres of American movies from cult classics, to comedies and even our favourite rom-coms.
From the Frosty Palace in Grease to Jack Rabbit Slim’s in Pulp Fiction, diners have been the backdrop for some of the most famous scenes in movie history. And with the opening of Arthouse’s new diner experience in the centre of Liverpool, we though we’d take a deep dive into some classic movie diners we all love seeing on-screen.
Open now, Mulholland offers a brand new singing waiter diner experience, where you can enjoy fantastic US-inspired food and drink with a musical accompaniment of all the best power ballads, movies hits and musical showstoppers. From indulgent milkshakes to rainbows nachos and sizzling hot-dogs, it’s the ultimate Hollywood hangout.
But to get you in the mood for some diner-excellence, let’s take a look at the most iconic burger joints in movie history. These are our favourite movie diners on screen…
Pulp Fiction’s Double Trouble Diners
Who hasn’t wished they could visit the fictional diner of Jack Rabbit Slim’s in Pulp Fiction? With it’s slot car race tracks, classic-car shaped booths and waiting staff dressed as Hollywood stars, we all wanted to take Mia Wallace out for a meal at this “wax museum with a pulse” (Vincent’s words, not ours). And of course, it’s the location of that very famous dance…
But Slim’s wasn’t the only diner that made it into this cult classic. Who could forget the iconic opening (and closing) scenes set in a bog-standard US diner with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny? Tarantino’s love-letter to pop culture found the perfect setting to start the film inside America’s favourite dining establishment.
The Frosty Palace in Grease
Rydell High students’ favourite out-of-school hangout might not have technically been a diner but we all still call it one. Officially a ‘malt shop’, this icy palace looked like a classic, old-school diner to the untrained eye, with its uniformed waitresses, 50s chromatic furnishings and menu of fries, shakes and burgers (always with not enough ketchup).
But whether a diner or not, it undoubtedly makes the list of the most famous movie diners on screen thanks to the iconic Beauty School Dropout musical number that took place within its tiled walls, as well as all the Sandy-Danny dates that went to disasterously wrong at its tables.
Call yourself a Grease mega-fan? Why not stay in Arthouse’s incredible Grease suite for a (summer) night you’ll never forget. Sleeping up to six guests, with luxurious amenities including kitchenette, large-screen TV and a whirlpool bath, you’ll have the chills and they’ll be multiplyin’ when you book this incredible movie suite in Liverpool’s city centre.
The Diner in The Big Lebowski that’s More Famous than the Film
You might recognize the movie diner spotted in The Big Lebowski – it’s a bit of a location star. Featuring in numerous mega movies, music videos and TV shows, including Reservoir Dogs, Gone in 60 Seconds and the video for Sean Kington’s top hit ‘Beautiful Girls’, it’s arguably had more success than most of the actors who’ve filmed inside it.
The diner was, at the time of filming The Big Lebowski, still an operating diner called Johnie’s Coffee Shop Restaurant. Today, it’s only used as a filming location but you can still see visit the iconic exterior on Wilshire Boulevard in midtown Los Angeles.
Blade Runner’s Futuristic Food Establishment
Again, not a traditional diner, but the noodle bar in Blade Runner offers a 1980s interpretation of what an LA diner in 2019 might look like and it sure is iconic.
The cramped chrome-clad restaurant with its steaming bowls of broth and unsociable customers still provides weary travellers and hungry cliental the same classic American service that a traditional diner does – just with a significantly Japanese twist.
And anyway, it’s one of the best examples of the film’s incredible set design that looked seriously futuristic but still recognizable as downtown LA.
The Home-From-Home Diner in Pineapple Express
One of Hollywood’s best loved bromance comedies, Pineapple Express puts the American diner to good use in its closing scenes. Like all best friends, Dale, Saul and Red end the movie with a classic diner breakfast – eggs, bacon and plenty of coffee – while rehashing their action-packed night before.
There’s no fancy 50s-style thrills here – director David Gordon Green made sure the movie diner was a bog-standed US food stop, perfect for a greasy food fix after a night running away from mobsters and corrupt police officers.
The Notorious Goodfellas Diner
When Martin Scorsese was looking for a location to film his then titled ‘Wiseguy’, his eyes settled on a small, space-age style diner in Maspeth, Queens (New York City).
Then called the Clinton diner, it was owned by Dimitra and Michael Diamantis who were about to see their small establishment become a famous tourist hotspot, with avid fans including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and Pierce Brosnan heading to the location to grab a selfie and experience the atmosphere.
The movie, of course, was the legendary Goodfellas, which filmed two of its most memorable scenes inside the diner, making the Diamanti’s family business one of the most famous diners in movie history. The famous phone-bashing scene was set at a phone booth outside the diner.
Lou’s Cafe in Back to the Future
Who could forgot Marty’s famous trip to Lou’s Café in Back to the Future? This perfect example of a 1955 diner was where Marty first realizes how different the past can be after attempting to order a Pepsi Free and being told by an irate server “You want a Pepsi, pal, you gotta pay for it”.
An integral location in the film, Lou’s is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s most iconic movie diners, with it’s minty colour scheme and retro interiors.
The History Behind American Diners
They’ve been a stable of American culture for over a generation, but did you know that the very first food diners had wheels?
The word diner can officially be defined (according to Webster’s Dictionary) as ‘a restaurant in the shape of a railroad car’, harking back to the origins of these classic US food-spots.
Back in the 1800s, the first iteration of diners were called ‘lunch cars’ and we can thank Rhode Island’s Water Scott for their invention. Scott re-purposed a horse-pulled wagon into a cart that served sandwiches, coffee, pies and eggs to people heading home at night and his side-line hustle was so successful that he ended up quitting his day job to sell food from the wagon all-day, everyday. Soon, other companies followed suit.
Buoyed by the success of these businesses, T.H. Buckley from Massachusetts decided that manufacturing purpose-build ‘lunch cars’ was more profitable than doing the actual food selling. He started the Worcester Lunch Car Company which produced ‘dining cars’ fitted with basic stoves and an ice box for foodie entrepreneurs. Soon, these portable cars were popping up all over America, offering food to weary travellers and tired workers.
But as the number of lunch cars jumped higher, many towns and cities passed civil laws restricting their hours of operation. Attempting to loophole these restrictions, lunch car owners started permanently parking up their cars in busy locations and the diner as we know it was born.
By 1913, the idea was really starting to catch on and Jerry O’Mahoney established the first ever purpose-built stationary diner in the United States. He would go on to become the largest manufacturer of diners ever, producing a rumored 2,000 diners between 1917 and 1941 across the country.
As the years ticked by, the traditional diner became more and more extravagant and by the time the 1950s hit, the stream-lined silver space age carriages were all the range, cementing what we all now think of when someone says the word ‘diner’.
Visit the UK’s Only Singing Waiter Diner Today
To celebrate the launch of the UK’s only singing waiter diner at Arthouse Hotel, we’re offering you the chance to get 50% off all food at the newly opened Mulholland bar for this month only!
Enjoy out-of-this-world milkshakes, Spice Girl-inspired pizzas, rainbow nachos and much, much more all for half price this October by showing this Facebook voucher on ordering.
A magical eating experience like no other in Liverpool, our musical-minded singing waiters will serenade you with classic ballads, musical showstoppers and movie top hits, transporting you straight to LA and the silver screen musical numbers we all love so much.
Make sure you’re following Mulholland on all our social media channels to keep updated on all the lastest news, competitions and offers from this incredible new eating experience. We’e hanging out on Facebook and Instagram. Be our guest and join us today at the brand-new Mulholland!