Have you seen these local haunts on the silver screen?
These days, it’s not unusual to be watching a show and see a familiar business appear on the screen. Rockland County has become a popular spot for filming. After catching a glimpse of a Rockland shop on air, you may wonder how things unfolded.
Breakfast at Strawberry Place
In February, Strawberry Place in Nyack was the backdrop for a scene in The Blacklist. Owner Vincent Cuccia said, “A gentleman came in and said that he was looking for a place to film a breakfast scene.”
Cuccia, whose family-owned business had previously been used to film shows such as Person of Interest and Orange is the New Black, agreed once again — but this filming meant transforming the restaurant. “They took down every picture we had, and they put up different pictures,” Cuccia said, adding that they even measured the Coke machine and labeled it with a “Cold Drinks” sign instead.
Cuccia, who needed to shut Strawberry Place down for the day, was concerned about inconveniencing his customers. He stayed outside and gave those who came by a future discount, but most were excited to have the restaurant featured. “People were like, ‘That’s so great,’” Cuccia said. “So many people knew about it. It was such a nice thing to get.”
Coffee (and High Tea) at Bunbury’s
At Bunbury’s Coffee Shop in Piermont this past December, the show Dr. Strange did some filming. Bunbury’s was also previously used for FBI: Most Wanted and The Blacklist. While the compensation offered for such shoots was appealing, it was more about the excitement of having the filming at the site, said owner Debbie Pirsos.
“It does give us extra business, too,” she said. “They all like a bit of coffee, and they work long days, so coffee is a big thing for them.”
For the shoot, they made it look as if there was a bus stop in front of the store. “The street was converted into a whole London holiday street fair,” she said. “They just moved a few things and put a newspaper rack in front of my shop.”
With a bit of movie magic, the road actually looked like part of London, complete with a double-decker bus. “All of a sudden, we were like, ‘What the heck? Was that bus on the wrong side of the road coming up?’” Pirsos said. Likewise, the street fair was so realistic that Pirsos found herself eyeing a pillow on display. When she offhandedly mentioned it, a crew member arranged for her to keep it.
The excitement of filming brought a different energy to the cold-weather Piermont December lull. “It was a little uplift before the holidays for us, for sure,” Pirsos said.
Getting the Scoop at King Kone
King Kone in Pearl River has become a bit of a filming hotspot, according to manager Debra Martin. The shop’s standalone, retro-looking exterior with its own parking lot is part of the appeal, she believes.
In 2015, the ice cream shop appeared in the Red Oaks series, followed by yet another local stop for Orange is the New Black in 2017.
In 2020, the series Manifest shot a scene here, even keeping the King Kone name. The production crew crafted a special sign and gave it to the shop to keep as a memento. Ironically, when the series Hello Tomorrow was filmed there last March, the crew started to remove the sign to rebrand it as “Bernie’s Hover Hop,” but Martin stopped them, concerned about building damage. “Instead, they built this wooden sign to go over the sign Manifest had put up,” she said.
Since then, Brightwood and FBI: Most Wanted have filmed there as well, while other shows and movies continue to ask. Most recently, Martin agreed to let an independent filmmaker from Orangeburg, Elliot Frances Flynn, use King Kone for her film, Baby Fat.
Martin tries not to close for filming. Even though King Kone would be reimbursed, it’s about the customers. In one case, she pushed the March opening day for the ice cream shop back to accommodate filming, but it was a warm-weather scene, and you could see the actors’ cold breaths. Because of this, they weren’t able to film that day. But she knew there were little kids eagerly waiting for King Kone to open, so the film crew had to find another time.
Despite such challenges, having the business appear on screen can be a savvy decision, Martin believes. “People say, ‘Oh my God, I saw you on TV,’ and it’s going to bring in business,” she said. “Especially if they are using our name. You couldn’t pay for that kind of advertising.”
By Maxine Lipner
Maxine Lipner is a long-time freelance writer from Nyack. She enjoys walking around town, reading a good book, listening to music, or spending time at the beach.
Photos by Debbie Pirsos and Debra Martin
Other Rockland Showbiz Sightings
If it seems to you like there are film production signs everywhere in Rockland County these days, you are not mistaken. Here are some other films and TV shows that have used Rockland sites as a backdrop:
- A Journal for Jordan
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- Lisey’s Story
- New Amsterdam
- Ray Donovan
- Sneaky Pete
- The Americans
- The Sinner
- The Irishman
- The Outsider