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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teen Scenes from the Small Screen

I have a question for you all.  Think back to when you were in high school.  For some of us, it was the best time of our whole lives.  For others, it was four years of torture.

But one thing that could have made the high school experience a lot better were the teen hangouts.  The meeting places where kids would gather during their lunch hours or after school to talk about the latest gossip, make plans for Saturday night, or even actually do homework!

I'll admit that my school was located in a place where there was a whole lot of nothing available.  On one side of the school was the city hospital (I can't see too many high school students choosing to hang out there, although I did used to go to the hospital gift shop to buy candy and magazines).  Across the street was a playground that used to be a cemetery (true story), and down the street at the time we had a health food store, and an abandoned Buns Master Bakery.  Hardly the places that would be considered attractive to the teen scene.

Still, I remember one place during my high school years in which I would sometimes frequent.  It was a little nook that was attached to a hair salon (that used to be a convenience store years ago) that had a really tiny kitchen and only enough room for two people to stand there comfortably (literally, the place was the size of a front porch).  But this place made some of the greatest poutines in the whole world.  It was a place called "Pizza Pro", and although it didn't really help my waistline any, it kept me supplied in poutine rich goodness right through my graduation from high school in 2000.  Add to the fact that it was at the time the only food place outside of campus and it proved to be a semi-popular spot.  Other restaurants have come and gone since then, but I will always have a soft spot for "Pizza Pro".

So,'s not quite the place where all the teens hung out.  Still, it was my own personal nook, and it was a nook that you could find me at least once every other week.

Still...I can't help but think of all the teenage hangouts that I remember seeing in my television viewing days, and I can't help but think of how much cooler school would have been if we had at least some of these hangouts in my town.

So, come sit down with me, grab a menu, and have a fond time looking back on the teen hangouts of yore.

Ready?  Let's go!


Now, people from my generation probably recognize this place from the 1994 music video for Weezer's "Buddy Holly".  Here...I'll post it below.

Of course, we all know that Arnold's was first seen in the television sitcom "Happy Days", which ran for ten seasons between 1974 and 1984.  Interestingly enough, we never did get to meet the real Arnold.  The first owner of the diner that we ever saw was the Japanese man named Mitsumo Takahashi (Pat Morita).  Of course, Takahashi simply called himself Arnold because it would have cost too much to have the diner sign renamed to Takahashi's.  Over the course of the show, the diner would transfer ownership to Al Delvecchio (Al Molinaro) for six seasons before Arnold returned following Al's departure from the show in 1982.

Anyway, if you wanted to have a full appreciation of what diners looked like back in the 1950s (remember, "Happy Days" was set at least two decades in the past when it started airing in 1974), Arnold's was a pretty good representation.  Nothing fancy or unique.  Just a place with booths, a jukebox, and some great food.  And it was also the main haunt of Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie, and The Fonz.  What could be better than that?

From there, we now take a look at another diner that was heavily influenced by the 1950s.


We were first introduced to this Beverly Hills lunch counter after Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestly) quit a busboy job from hell.  His friend Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) knew a place where they made some great peach pie, and it is here that Brandon first meets Nat (Joe E. Tata), the owner of The Peach Pit, a diner that plays music from the '50s and '60s, and is famous for its Megaburger.  Brandon ended up working for Nat for three years, and the rest of the 90210 gang shared laughs, tears, romances, and hard times in the booths and stools of the restaurant.  Even Brenda (Shannen Doherty) took a turn as a waitress in the diner.  Have a look below!

In 1994, Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering) and Dylan opened up a nightclub right beside The Peach Pit, called "The Peach Pit After Dark", which arrived just in time for the 90210 gang's college and adult years. 

To be honest with you, I would have totally dug having a Peach Pit in town.  Or, at the very least, having an owner like Nat at the helm.  He wasn't just some fry cook in the back of the kitchen.  When you entered his establishment, he treated you like family.  A true representation of customer service.

And it's nice to know that Nat's business continued to survive.  When 90210 was revived in 2008, the Peach Pit was still in business...with Nat still treating his customers like family.


Okay, so a little bit of history needs to be talked about when talking about Rachel's Place.  When Family Matters first debuted in 1989, the teen hangout at the time was called "Leroy's", and it wasn't anything too spectacular.  It was just one of those greasy spoon type places with a couple of video games and some tables.  Leroy's was the site of Laura Winslow's (Kellie Shanygne Williams) and Steve Urkel's (Jaleel White) first jobs.  Unfortunately neither one was employed there for long after Steve accidentally burned the whole place down!

Fortunately, this was where Laura's Aunt Rachel (Telma Hopkins) had a brilliant idea.  She was looking at starting up her own business and in 1990, she bought the land where Leroy's once stood and opened up her own diner called Rachel's Place.  It certainly was a brilliant looking place.  I'd definitely eat there if it existed.  But I get the feeling that Rachel wasn't a very good businesswoman.  Both she and the diner were gone by the mid-1990s.


Okay.  On the inside, it looked like a geometry textbook had exploded all over the walls.  But it was one of the coolest places near Bayside High.  Originally run by amateur magician Max (Ed Alonzo), The Max was the place where Zack and Kelly fell in love.  The place where Lisa and Screech won a dance contest with "The Sprain".  The place where the gang threw Slater a party with Screech at the Pineapple Princess. 

The original Max continued on in the New Class adaptation for four of its seven seasons, but New Class student Ryan Parker left some Christmas tree lights on overnight which burned the diner to the ground.  It was rebuilt in Season 5 with an even more tripped out design than the last one.  I tried to find a picture, but none really exist.  You'll just have to take my word for it.


It was exactly like The Max, only with less geometry and more surfboards.  Oh, and a band called the California Dreams would play gigs there every weekend.  If you loved live music, Sharkey's was the place to be.

CONFESSION:  At the time, I really dug the California Dreams songs...and appreciated the fact that in the first couple of years, the actual cast really did do the singing!  Even some twenty years later, some of the songs are still quite catchy.


Okay, this hangout just has a bizarre story, so I'll just come out with it.  When Punky Brewster first aired, Punky's guardian Henry (George Gaynes) was a photographer who owned his own photography studio.  But at the end of the show's third year, Henry was bought out by a photo store chain and given $100,000 out of the deal, which Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) begged him to use to open up a restaurant.  Somehow, Henry agreed, and Punky's Place was born.

Problem was that Punky's Place wasn't exactly used a whole lot in the show's final season.  In fact, the only episode I remember that took place at Punky's Place was the one in which Punky and Cherie (Cherie Johnson) believed that a customer had died in one of the booths there and that Punky and Cherie had actually killed him!  Turns out he just had narcolepsy!  Silly kids!

Okay, so those are just a few of the teen hangouts I remember.  What other ones can you add to the list?

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