7 Movie and TV Themed Restaurants Around the World

Image Credit: Loren Javier, Flickr // CC: BY-NC-ND 2.0

Have you ever wanted to eat dinner aboard a sinking Titanic, or visit a place where everyone knows your name? Or maybe relaxing on a large orange couch and drinking coffee out of giant mugs is more your style. All over the world, there are movie and TV show themed restaurants and bars, giving fans a chance to dine among the scenery they’ve only ever seen on screen. In 2012, The Week published a list of nine movie-inspired theme bars—here are seven more to add to your bucket list.

1. Friends

Central Perk may be one of the most recognizable fictional hangouts of all time, not to mention one of the most comfortable. But if you happened to miss out on the Big Apple Friends' pop-up shop last year, there's a year-round Central Perk in Beijing, with a replica of Joey and Chandler’s apartment right next door.

2. Breaking Bad

Image Credit: ABQ, Facebook

Cook up your own cocktails in an RV with professional mixologists at ABQ, London’s very own ode to Walter White. Running for three months starting this July, the RV holds 20-22 people at a time, and a ticket, which includes two cocktails, is £30 or $46. So far, 24,750 people have reserved spots.

A Los Pollos Hermanos fried-chicken joint may also be in the works. During Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan’s Reddit AMA, he mentioned that one enterprising individual had expressed interest in making the fictional restaurant a reality.

3. Doctor Who

Image Credit: The Pandorica, Facebook

Whovians can enjoy a wide variety of dishes at The Pandorica, a Doctor Who-themed restaurant in Beacon, NY. While the decor is clearly Time Lord inspired, it’s classy and subtle—TARDIS paintings adorn the walls, and small centerpieces and other details pay homage to the show. Episodes of Doctor Who play on a TV screen, and they even have weekly Doctor Who trivia night.

4. Forrest Gump

Image Credit: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurants, Inc., Facebook

Named after Pvt. Benjamin Buford 'Bubba' Blue and his pal Forrest Gump, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant chain seeks to capture the down-home feel of the Oscar winning film. Menu items include "Mama Gump’s Garlic Bread Basket," the "Run Across America Sampler," and "Lt. Dan’s Drunken Shrimp." Since the restaurant’s debut in 1996, the chain has expanded to 40 locations around the world.  

5. Titanic

A Titanic-themed restaurant has got to be a hard sell, yet two restaurants—one in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the other in Williamstown, Australia—have done their best to turn the tragedy into a positive dining experience. Café Jack, an Asian-fusion restaurant, is an actual boat sitting on a 6500-square-foot plot in the middle of Los Angeles. Since 2007, guests who come aboard dine among posters, publicity stills, decorations similar to those in the film, and, according to a write up in LA Weekly, lots of hearts. 

The Titanic Theatre Restaurant in Williamstown is a more interactive experience. Guests enjoy live entertainment, the option to travel in “first class” or “steerage,” a three-course meal, and quite a bit of booze. Costumes are encouraged, but if you forget to bring your own, you can rent one from the restaurant.

6. Cheers

Image Credit: Cheers, Facebook

Cheers ended its 11 season run back in 1993, but the bar that inspired the NBC hit is still in business. The inside of the Beacon Hill staple isn’t identical to its fictional counterpart—the set designers needed to create a layout that would accommodate a live audience’s viewing angle—however, the show did use the bar’s facade for its opening shot.

7. Mamma Mia

Image Credit: MAMMA MIA! North America, Facebook

Former ABBA member Bjorn Ulvaeus is getting into the restaurant biz with a new Mamma Mia-themed restaurant concept. The Greek taverna setting of the beloved (and soon-to-close) Broadway play will be transported to Stockholm’s Grona Lund amusement park. There, it will house an interactive dinner theater based around the character of Nico, the 50-something taverna owner, and his younger Swedish wife. The restaurant is set to open in January.

Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

Universal Pictures
Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.


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