Woody ‘dines’ at Snuffy’s

Snuffy’s Malt Shop owner Mike Mueller says the photo of him and Woody Harrelson that he posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, shot during the filming of “Wilson,” has garnered quite a response. As of the Review’s deadline, it had been shared nearly 500 times and liked more than 2,200 times, having been viewed nearly 50,000 times. (submitted photo)
Snuffy’s Malt Shop owner Mike Mueller says the photo of him and Woody Harrelson that he posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, shot during the filming of “Wilson,” has garnered quite a response. As of the Review’s deadline, it had been shared nearly 500 times and liked more than 2,200 times, having been viewed nearly 50,000 times. (submitted photo)
Though the exterior still says Snuffy’s Malt Shop, Mike Mueller says his restaurant will be portrayed as The Original Malt Shop in the film “Wilson,” and that he’s slowly transitioning to the new name in real life. “I’ll never make any formal announcement,” Mueller says, saying that the name-change will take place quietly. (Mike Munzenrider/Review)
Though the exterior still says Snuffy’s Malt Shop, Mike Mueller says his restaurant will be portrayed as The Original Malt Shop in the film “Wilson,” and that he’s slowly transitioning to the new name in real life. “I’ll never make any formal announcement,” Mueller says, saying that the name-change will take place quietly. (Mike Munzenrider/Review)

Roseville malt shop hosts Hollywood production

It’s not often that a strip mall off Larpenteur and Lexington avenues in Roseville makes like a Hollywood studio backlot, but on June 23, that’s exactly what happened.

At around 6 a.m. that Tuesday, Snuffy’s Malt Shop owner Mike Mueller ushered in a production crew working on a film called “Wilson.”

From there, some 100 or so movie crew members — “an army of ants,” as Mueller puts it — rushed in and out reworking the recently remodeled interior to get it movie-ready, re-lighting the restaurant and erecting temporary walls.

“Wilson,” set for a 2016 release, is directed by relative newcomer Craig Johnson, also known for directing Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in “The Skeleton Twins.” “Wilson” is based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, who wrote the comic book “Ghost World.” The book inspired the 2001 movie of the same name.

The graphic novel “Wilson” tells the story of a backwards-gazing middle-aged divorced man named Wilson.

Woody Harrelson, of “Cheers” notoriety and more recently, “True Detective” fame, plays the titular character. He spent June 23 hanging out and acting at Snuffy’s.

‘Hurry up and wait’

Mueller opened the first Snuffy’s in St. Paul on Cleveland Avenue in 1983. Nearly 30 years later, in 2012, he broke from the malt shop’s ownership group to go it on his own with the now 28-year-old Roseville location, taking what he describes as a more innovative approach to the menu, with a focus on burgers.

When movie location scouts came looking earlier this year, Mueller says they were won over by his recently-remodeled yet still retro malt shop. While updating the lighting and furnishings, Mueller kept the cozy booths and special-ordered another batch of Snuffy’s iconic candy-striped wallpaper. The finishing touches were completed in January.

“It’s been so great for business,” Mueller says of the remodel, adding, “Customers here in Roseville have really enjoyed it.”

Mueller says the location scouts found his place to be “cool and retro,” more so than the 25-or-so other ice cream parlors that they looked at in the area. He says being picked for the movie was “really flattering.”

When the day finally came a month after he was first contacted by scouts, Mueller says the action came in fits and starts.

“It’s a hurry-up-and-wait affair,” he said of the movie-making process, noting the painstaking shot setups and the repetitive “takes” needed to get the scene right.

Mueller says the movie crew showed up in six trailers and practically took over Roseville Center, where Snuffy’s is located. By midday, what he estimated as more than 1,000 people were milling around the area, trying to get a glimpse of what was going on.

Harrelson, Mueller said, who was shooting with actor Margo Martindale for the day, came in through the back door.

Bright lights

For all the hubbub, Mueller says, three camera angles were shot that day, including a dolly shot — when the camera is rolled on a small track for a moving point of view — and a couple scenes at tables. In all, he says, each actor spoke about six lines, over and over and over.

“I could tell you all the lines,” Mueller says, before complementing Harrelson’s on-set manner.

“He would stop and chat with the staff — I was impressed that he really was a regular guy,” he says, adding that Harrelson was “very nice and accommodating.”

Mueller says that four Snuffy’s staffers moonlighted as extras in some of the shots and that even his 25-year-old daughter, Chloe Steiner, got involved as a body double, with the possibility of getting called back to the shoot in the future.

The restaurateur got involved in the production — beyond offering up his space — by becoming an on-set ice cream sundae-maker. Mueller says he remade the same dessert more than 30 times, watching his work melt away through successive shots under the hot lights.

Harrelson has specific dietary requirements — Mueller says the actor is a raw vegan — so special care had to be taken with the star’s sundaes, which were made with almond milk and other such ingredients.

“The last thing I want to do is poison an A-Lister,” Mueller says.

In all, the “Wilson” shooting day at Snuffy’s lasted more than 10 hours, Mueller says, wrapping up at around 4:30 p.m. He says it was a little bit later than he’d have liked, though he was still able to capitalize on all the spectators, and had a nice late-lunch rush.

As for the possibility of switching careers following his brush with fame and the movie business, Mueller says he’s happy running the malt shop.

“I’m glad I do what I do,” he says.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.8 (5 votes)
Comment Here