My husband and I have a Christmas tradition of watching all of our favorite holiday movies throughout the month of December. There are countless classics in our loop, including Love Actually, The Holiday, Home Alone (the first film and the sequel), and Christmas Vacation. A new favorite we just discovered last year, though, is Surviving Christmas. The 2004 comedy stars Ben Affleck as millionaire advertising executive Drew Latham, who, in a desperate attempt not to spend the holidays alone, returns to his childhood home and offers the family who now lives there, the Valcos, $250,000 to let him crash for Christmas.
Surviving Christmas is set in and around Chicago but some scenes were lensed right here in Los Angeles, like the ending shot in which Drew and the Valco family (played by James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Christina Applegate and 90210’s Josh Zuckerman) gather for Christmas dinner at a local diner. That diner was actually Cindy’s Eagle Rock Restaurant located at 1500 Colorado Boulevard.
The Eagle Rock landmark opened in 1948. Situated on the former Route 66, the eatery was designed in the Googie style common for roadside diners of the day. Despite a succession of different owners over the years, little of Cindy’s exterior or interior has been changed over its six decades of business.
Thanks to its retro aesthetic, Cindy’s has long been a favorite of location managers and has popped up countless times onscreen. The restaurant appeared in an episode of Parenthood and the horror movie Ouija, which was released this past October, and it will be featured regularly on NBC’s upcoming 1960s cop drama Aquarius.
In 2014 Cindy’s was purchased by Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh, the husband and wife chef team who also own the popular South Pasadena eatery Firefly Bistro. Upon purchasing the site, the couple shut it down for several months in order to give it an update. Thankfully, the renovation only included minor alterations (like resurfacing countertops and adding a smoker to the kitchen), and the vast majority of Cindy’s retro décor, including the wallpaper, booths, and swivel stools, was left intact.
Monique and Paul did give the menu a major revitalization, though. Old classics like grilled cheese and BLTs are still available but diners now also have the option of cornmeal crusted catfish, chicken fried mushrooms, and smoked pork chops.
Sadly, those hoping to eat Christmas dinner at Cindy’s ala the Valco family cannot. The restaurant will be closed on Christmas day.
Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.