Local coffee houses turn into ‘Gilmore Girls’ diner in Netflix promotion

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Coffee houses around the country, including in the Triangle, gave out free coffee Wednesday as they transformed into versions of a fictional diner from the TV show “Gilmore Girls.”

Sola Coffee in Raleigh became “Luke’s Diner” and gave out coffee in honor of the show, which debuted 16 years ago Wednesday and will be rebooted by Netflix on Nov. 25.

Employees said the line at Sola Coffee began at 6:15 a.m., which was 45 minutes before they were scheduled to open “Luke’s.” They estimate the line was half a mile long at one point.

The first people in line drove two hours to get there, employees said.

Netflix provided about 500 “Luke’s” cups for Sola Coffee to serve customers. The shop ran out by 9:15 a.m. but continued to give out another 150 free cups of coffee before closing “Luke’s” around 10:30 a.m.

Sola Coffee staff even wore the signature outfit of the character “Luke” – a flannel shirt and backwards hat.

It provided an atmosphere that ‘Gilmore Girls’ fans ate up, including Sola regular Jackie Sanders, who just moved to the area.

“It’s kind of become almost like my ‘Luke’s Diner.’ I’ve gotten to know like a lot of people that work here, a lot of other locals. So, especially having an event like this where a bunch of other ‘Gilmore Girls’ fans come in, it’s a lot of fun. We can just strike up conversation, immediately have something in common.”

The show focuses on a mother and daughter who spent a lot of time at “Luke’s Diner.” Shannon Wentworth and her daughter, Rebekah Blackmon, relate to the characters.

Wentworth said years ago she would go behind her daughter and delete the show from the family’s DVR, thinking it might be inappropriate for her daughter. When Wentworth finally sat down and watched it, she was hooked.

She is now so dedicated, that she programmed Blackmon into her cell phone as “Rory,” which is the name of the TV daughter.

At one point Wednesday morning, fans of the “Gilmore Girls” broke out into the show’s theme song at Sola Coffee, and Wentworth and Blackmon joined in.

“I probably think the highlight was everybody singing the theme song. That was totally awesome because that’s what we do,” Wentworth said.

Blackmon said, “We sing it!”

Angela Rumball led the singing after suggesting staff play the song. She remembers watching the show when she was younger, but became a huge fan once the show began streaming.

“It came on Netflix and I binge-watched it one, two, three, four, five times,” she laughed.

Netflix arranged to have coffee houses in every state to transform into Luke’s Diner Wednesday, including eight in North Carolina.

Other Triangle locations included 42 & Lawrence and Benelux Coffee, both in Raleigh.

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