Finding familiar things in unfamiliar places can sometimes be a bit unsettling. I was reminded of this a few years ago when my wife and I were watching television in our hotel room outside the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. We were packing our bags for a day-hike when an image of the Halfway House Café, a restaurant we frequent only a couple of miles from our Canyon Country home, appeared on the screen.
We certainly didn’t need to travel to the Yucatan Peninsula to see the restaurant on the tube. For the past several decades it has appeared in literally dozens of films and television episodes shown all over the world. So many, in fact, that even a casual film or TV fan would be hard-pressed not to have glimpsed it on screen.
Yesterday I listed some of the most famous movie and television appearances the café has made over the years. It has also been featured in several well known commercials, music videos, and photo shoots.
A famous 1991 Pepsi commercial featuring Cindy Crawford stepping out of a red Lamborghini wearing a white tank top and denim cut-offs was filmed here. It was later voted by a group of advertising judges appointed by Forbes Magazine to be the “steamiest television ad of all time.” She returned a couple of years later, this time in an SUV with her two sons inside, to film a Diet Pepsi commercial that poked fun at the previous one. (An autographed photo of Crawford, along with a Pepsi can, graces one wall.)
Steamier still were photo spreads done here for Carmen Electra, as well as for the recently-deceased Farrah Fawcett, who posed inside for a Playboy layout.
During the past couple of years, commercials for Suzuki, Miller Lite, and American Express have been made here.
“They brought the director here all the way from Brazil to make an American Express commercial that was only shown in Europe,” laughs owner Bob Lima, who was also originally from Brazil.
The staff of Halfway, many of whom have been working here for years, each has a favorite movie star encounter.
“Jack Black was the best,” says Moore. “He brought his own masseuse who ended up giving all of the waitresses a massage.”
“Cindy Crawford was great too,” adds Lima.
Sometimes they even get into the act.
We once saw a former waitresses on screen serving John Goodman meatloaf during a scene for an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, which is about as often as you can find it on television.
Even in the Yucatan Peninsula.