Hidden City Cafe is well-known in Pixar lore, as it is the location of a very special lunch that studio employees had – a lunch where they came up with the ideas for four of its films. Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft (RIP) gathered for a memorable meal at the cafe, as they outlined ideas that went on to become A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and WALL-E. The cafe has often been visited by Pixar fans, to get a taste of the birthplace of so many of the studio’s films. However, when one fan recently dropped by, he discovered that the place had been shut down.
Jeff from This Day in Pixar was excited to once again visit Richmond’s Hidden City Cafe, which is located close by Pixar’s original headquarters, but was shocked to see that the doors were closed, artwork from the walls had been removed, and all the chairs were gone. He was unsure of the reasoning for why the cafe had closed down. There have been unconfirmed reports, though, that rats were the culprit (yes, I know there might be a Ratatouille joke in there somewhere, but let’s restrain from the pun-usage, just this once).
Pixar has piad homage to the cafe, hiding the cafe’s name on a license plate in Toy Story 2 (via Pixar Planet):
Additionally, the Hidden City Cafe, itself, showed up briefly in Monsters, Inc.:
When the meeting took place, those Pixar employees likely did not fully comprehend its significance. A Bug’s Life was released in November 1998, while the last film that traces its origins back to that fateful day, WALL-E, saw release in June 2008, about 10 years later! Who can say they’ve had a meal that paid off that well for that long?
Jeff has some photos up on his site from his first trip to the Hidden City Cafe, when it was still open. Below are a few of them:
I leave you with the teaser trailer for WALL-E, where Andrew Stanton fondly looks back upon that momentous meal: