Upper Darby diner is now a Spot

Ever since Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence shared a bowl of Raisin Bran at the Llanerch Diner in "Silver Linings Playbook," the eatery has faced booming business.
Ever since Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence shared a bowl of Raisin Bran at the Llanerch Diner in "Silver Linings Playbook," the eatery has faced booming business.
Posted: February 22, 2013

OF ALL the spanakopita joints in all the towns, in all the world, Jennifer Lawrence had to walk into mine.

Upper Darby's Llanerch Diner, situated near the intersection of Routes 1 and 3, is where I go once a week to have my spinach pie, Greek salad and Diet Coke.

Now, it's a Spot, and going there is a Thing, ever since "Silver Linings Playbook," with its famous J Law/Brad Cooper "date" sequence, put the diner on the map.

People want to sit in The Booth.

Order the Raisin Bran.

Buy an SLP T-shirt, or a mug.

Ogle the plaque commemorating the Cooper/Lawrence scene.

My inconvenience, however, is the diner's gain.

"We've seen like a 10 percent increase in business, and it's been a nice steady crowd," said co-owner Mark Klein, who ran a pretty busy place to begin with.

Klein bought and renovated the Llanerch in 2006 with partner Mike Mihos, adding the Llanerch to a portfolio that includes the Limerick Diner and South Street Diner.

Klein is a bit jaded when it comes to movie shoots - his stepfather owns a North Jersey diner where episodes of "The Sopranos" were shot, and he said Temple students ask all the time to shoot scenes at his South Street diner.

"You don't get money for it," he notes.

So he was not completely thrilled to get a call saying somebody wanted to shut down his place to shoot a movie.

Even a Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper movie.

"I didn't know who they were."

His attitude changed, however, when he learned about the terms.

"They said we'll pay you three days worth of business for shutting down one day."

Klein, a huge Robert De Niro fan, also became excited where he heard the erstwhile Godfather was a co-star.

"Growing up, he was an icon to me, like Bruce Lee or Pacino. When I heard he wasn't going to be in the scene, I was like, 'Aw, shucks.' "

Still, he said, the process was fascinating to watch. Klein said the Bryn Mawr Glass company installed special angled panels in the Cooper/Lawrence booth to get the reflection just right for the scene.

And some of Klein's own improvements made the final cut. The neon Llanerch sign that Klein and his partner refurbished is a prominent visual feature in the movie, highlighted in the commercials, noticed around the world.

"We got a call from some place, Scotland, or maybe Wales, wanting to know why the diner is called the Llanerch," said Klein. (Llanerch-y-Mor is a town on the North Wales coast, where you will find a Llanerch Vineyard and hotel.)

When the movie became a hit, Klein commissioned a plaque.

"It says this is where Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence sat in 'Silver Linings Playbook.' It's welded in," he said.

For weeks, waitress Roula Kosmatos told customers the diner would be hosting an Oscar party. In the end, Klein had no choice but to host one. Sunday night, open to the public. No regular diner service (not a full menu), but dessert, coffee, espresso, cappuccino and a champagne toast for any "SLP" winners.

What does Klein think of the movie?

He hasn't seen it. Way too busy hustling back and forth among his diners - when I talked with him, he was waiting on a heating oil delivery. Most days, he doesn't get home until 3 a.m.

"Maybe I'll wait for the DVD, watch it home in bed, with a beer."

Blog: philly.com/KeepItReel

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