Could this brief cut scene in the movie Shakedown be a rare instance of Tom’s Restaurant before Seinfeld put it’s namesake on the map?

As a lover of obscure and vintage films, it was only a matter of time that I came across Shakedown, a film I’d throw into the bucket of late 80s / early 90s action movies. One of the main stars of Shakedown is Peter Weller, known famously for his role in Robocop and the subsequent sequels. Although Weller’s claim to fame is Robocop, I also enjoyed him in Firstborn, which has parallels to a more well known, and I must confess creepier thriller: The Stepfather

Before diving in, I must share a final thought on Weller as the coincidence is too striking. Recently I took a vacation to Egypt and in preparation, decided to brush up on my ancient history. YouTube being my defacto guide, I searched for documentaries on the subject, which I normally listen to rather than watch with the phone display off (a feature available to Google Play Music subscribers). This is also how I usually fall asleep, or in some cases nap, so as I was about to drift off, I was jolted awake by the familiar sounding baritone of Alex Murphy, except he wasn’t battling Red from that 70s Show, rather rambling away about Ramses II and the pyramids of Giza! With Robocop being one of my all time favorite 80s movies, it’s evident that despite my best efforts, I’ll continue to cross paths with Mr. Weller throughout my life.

The Search Begins!

This is the best screen capture I could make of the restaurant interior without the characters being present.

Getting down to business here, the subject of this post came about as I was watching Shakedown, which as far as 80s action movies go, wasn’t all so bad; a film I’d watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Midway into the movie, my spidey senses were tingling to such a degree that I felt compelled to share my reaction with the rest of the world. Huzzah!

In a segway between one of those classic witness-testimony-courtroom-scenes and a subsequent clandestine-secret-meet-up-in-a-smoky-bar/restaurant scene, I could have sworn I was seeing the iconical Tom’s Restaurant of Seinfeld namesake (image featured above). Could it be that the famous restaurant where George, Jerry, Elaine and many others made comedy history, was first graced by the likes of Sam Elliot? 

Putting on my detective cap, I spent day and night researching the hell out of this subject. Initially, it appeared I had excavated a rare cinematic gem that would be forever ensconce my namesake as certified expert in the obscure. Despite searching and searching I came up with nothing until I finally stumbled upon a site called I Am Not a Stalker. The images provided by I Am Not a Stalker were the only source I could find that showed examples of the restaurant from a similar time period, in this case originating from an episode of Bionic Woman.

I Am Not a Stalker also provided several photos of the full interior of Tom’s Restaurant, many of which were not usually seen on the set of Seinfeld. For references purposes, additional photos can be found here, here and here. Having nearly exhausted my research and growing tired of writing at this stage, I have begrudgingly come to the conclusion that the restaurant featured in Shakedown is in fact not Tom’s Restaurant 🙁

A side by side comparison of Tom’s Restaurant, featured on the right, and the scene from Shakedown on the left. Although there were enough similarities to prompt an enquiry, a closer inspection shows that the buildings are in fact rather different.

Final Thoughts on the Tom’s Restaurant False Positive

I would first like to praise myself for spotting the similarity in the first place as my pattern recognition skills are most likely on par with Robocop’s. Secondly, having caught the false positive, I am hereby planting the flag on this subject. No doubt someone, at some time in the future, will eventually come across this scene and jump to the same conclusion I did. Lest they think they’ve discovered a hidden movie gem, as I also did, this post will serve as ample evidence that similar to myself, they are ultimately wrong.

As a final warning to those trying to outrank my observation by attempting to replace my planted flag with their own competing post, just remember that I work for Dick Jones, the #2 guy at OCP.

And as one final, final thought: Bitches leave!