I am not sure what’s more amazing, the sheer amount of Christmas movies that have become a staple in my household or the fact that I manage to squeeze in a viewing of each of them every holiday season. One flick I’ve kept in rotation since it premiered in 2008 is the yuletide-themed rom-com Four Christmases. Though set in San Francisco, the film was shot largely in L.A., and a icouple of years ago I became obsessed with tracking down where it was filmed. I managed to find just about every location thanks to some help from the movie’s production designer, Shepherd Frankel.
When I stumbled upon Frankel’s Web site I lost myself in the images of the countless sets he had designed over the years. The man’s a true artist. I linked to his site in a post I wrote about the house that appears in Four Christmases and he wound up getting in touch with me shortly after. Frankel was amused at my fascination with locations and offered to help with missing spots from Four Christmases. The place I most wanted to track down was the restaurant where Brad’s (Vince Vaughn) company holiday party is held. The space’s wood-paneled walls, towering high ceilings and lodge-like décor had me drooling and I wanted to see it in person. Frankel informed me that while he didn’t remember the name of the place, it was a former bank-turned-restaurant near the aquarium in Long Beach. Fairly quickly I figured out that filming took place at The Madison, a massive 1924 Security Pacific National Bank branch located at 102 Pine Avenue.
The Madison was the brainchild of restauranteurs Terry Antonelli and Enzo DeMuro, who also established the long-running Long Beach staple L’Opera Ristorante across the street. The duo painstakingly rehabilitated the former bank, transforming it into a stately steakhouse. Sadly, the eatery, which opened in 1999, shuttered in late 2012, just months before I located it.
Thankfully, the closure didn’t stick. In March 2013, Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO and Federal Bar Hollywood owner Morgan Margolis leased the site and turned it into Federal Bar’s second location.
The three-story restaurant, which can accommodate 300 patrons, features two bars, hand-painted beamed ceilings, towering columns, and a downstairs “speakeasy” events space in the former bank’s vault.
My husband and I dined at the Federal in June and it is one of the prettiest, most unique spaces we have ever enjoyed a meal. It’s a perfect spot to grab cocktails, celebrate a special occasion, or, as was the case in Four Christmases, host a holiday party.
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.