- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

For a few hours Wednesday, Alexandria’s Grounded Coffee Shop traded in its hip, urban vibe for the laid-back, semirural charm of a small-town diner in a sleepy New England hamlet. And its customers lined up around the block.

Maybe it was the free cups of joe, served by baristas wearing backward-turned baseball caps and flannel shirts. Maybe it was the sign prohibiting the use of cellphones.

Or maybe it was the entire scene’s resemblance to a certain TV comedy-drama that quit the airwaves nine years ago.

Grounded Coffee joined a handful of other local bistros and more than 200 others across the U.S. and Canada to recreate the mood and magic of Luke’s Diner, the central coffeehouse of the fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut — home of “Gilmore Girls.”

Wednesday marked the 16th “Gilmoreversary” of the show, which debuted on the now-defunct WB network on Oct. 5, 2000. The streaming service Netflix, which carries the show’s seven seasons, will air new episodes of the hyperverbal mother-daughter dramedy beginning in November, and coordinated with the hundreds of Luke’s Diners that gave away java.

“I’m a big fan of the show,” said Emma Feeney, a 22-year-old graduate of the College of William and Mary. “I’ve watched it since 2007. I work at a restaurant in Alexandria and had this morning off, so I had to come get coffee from Luke’s.”

Fans of the show traveled from all over Northern Virginia to Grounded Coffee, one of six pop-up faux diners in the state. From 7 a.m. to noon, cafes offered free coffee in cups that bore the Luke’s Diner logo and quotes from the show.

Unfortunately, characters from the show — like the gossipy Miss Patty and Babette, or the ever-competitive Kirk and Andrew — didn’t make an appearance at Grounded Coffee. But the “No cell phones” sign in the corner made fans feel a part of the show they love, even without the rapid-fire repartee of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore — the mother and daughter at the heart of the show.

Coffee shop patrons were met with a much longer wait than usual. At Grounded Coffee, it took just under two hours to get through the line. The demand was so high that several locations reportedly ran out of coffee — words no Gilmore girl ever wants to hear.

The crowd — mostly 20-something women — shared how they became “Gilmore Girls” enthusiasts, discussed their favorite moments from the show and debated which of Rory’s boyfriends is their favorite as they waited in line. (Everyone agreed: Dean’s a jerk, Logan’s too cocky, and Jess was her perfect match).

With the long line came a packed parking lot. Several people left their cars at a 7-Eleven around the corner but had to move them when rumor spread that a tow truck was on its way. That didn’t stop them from going to Luke’s though.

Emily Laubach, a graduate student from the University of Maryland, left the line to head to work just as she reached the entrance. While she didn’t have the chance to get a cup of coffee, just being able to snap a picture of the Luke’s Diner sign made her day.

In other parts of the country, several cast members visited pop-ups to surprise fans. Scott Patterson, who portrays Luke Danes, the diner’s flannel- and ball cap-wearing proprietor, spent the day with fans at Comoncy in Beverly Hills.

Later this month, the “Gilmore Girls” fandom will converge on Washington Depot, Connecticut — the town that inspired Stars Hollow — for a weekend-long festival. Attendees will watch recitals at a look-alike of Miss Patty’s dance studio, participate in a town hall (sans Taylor Dosse) and rewatch episodes from all seven seasons. Members of the cast and crew will mingle with fans and reminisce on their favorite Gilmore moments.

The show’s four-part revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” premieres Nov. 25 on Netflix.

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