Written by Erin Lobner. Media by Alli Haug.
On October 5, 2016, “Gilmore Girls” fans waited in line for hours just for a cup of coffee. The date marked the 16th anniversary of the show’s first episode. To celebrate and hype people up for the upcoming revival series, Netflix set over 200 Luke’s Diner pop-ups. At least one of these cafes is in every state and decorated to resemble the Stars Hollow shop. However, MTV delivered the disappointing news that “crabby, flannel-wearing baristas [were] not necessarily guaranteed.”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, Luke’s diner was a place where Lorelai and Rory Gilmore went for their daily caffeine fix. In the words of Lorelai, “I can’t stop drinking the coffee, I stop drinking coffee, I stop doing the standing, and the walking, and the words-putting-into-sentences doing.”
Anyway, Luke Danes inherited the shop from his father and transformed it from Williams Hardware into a cafe. Backed by a small staff, Luke ran the diner and enforced strict rules on his customers such as “refusing to let patrons use their cell phones while in the diner. He also frowned upon people stepping behind the counter, big crowds, and moving tables.” Luke had a bit of a gruff demeanor and was known to throw out those who didn’t abide by the rules.
Luke was a bit rough around the edges but he cared very deeply about the people closest to him and looked out for their best interests. In a season two episode, “Dead Uncles and Vegetables” was a defining time for Luke. His Uncle Louie passed away and was left with the responsibility of fulfilling his uncle’s final requests. This situation was tough for Luke because Louie was not a well-liked man and the town refused to grant his wishes. “Dead Uncles and Vegetables” explained to the show’s viewers about some of Luke’s inner struggles: he pushes people away and is alone for that reason. In the end, however, Lorelai and the other people in the town help Luke see how much they love and appreciate him. They reassure him that he is a valued part of their community.
In honor of this beloved character and his cherished diner, Netflix transformed regular diners and coffee shops into Luke’s Diners. Workers and customers dress up in Luke’s trademark outfit: a flannel shirt and blue baseball cap worn backward. Cardboard cutouts of Luke are set up indoors and hold a list of his rules. Large “No Cellphones” signs are on the counters.
Marking every participating storefront is a temporary sign with the Luke’s Diner emblem. In some locations, fans camped out the night before the shops opened. Entertainment Weekly posted a timeline showing how hectic the experience was.
Some lucky fans got to meet the real Luke (Scott Patterson) when he visited Luke’s Diner in Beverly Hills, California. He put on the flannel and baseball cap, posed for pictures, and autographed fans’ coffee cups. While the “real” Luke surely wouldn’t have approved of all the selfies and crowds, Patterson seemed to have a good time.
Unfortunately, the diners were only in business for a day. But “Gilmore Girls” fans still have something to look forward to. Afterall, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” will be on Netflix. The four-part series premieres November 25. So, mark your calendars, grab some coffee, and revisit Stars Hollow.