We Talked To The Owner Of The Real-Life Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe

Photo: Courtesy of the CW.
The CW's Riverdale is the television show everyone is talking about right now. Since first premiering in January of this year, it has since created a wide-spread obsession. It has all the elements that one looks for in a show geared towards teens — though plenty of adults (us included) have been binge-watching, too: complicated friendships, budding sexual relationships, amazing fashion, and of course, the cool local hangout we desperately wish we had had when we were coming of age, Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe.
Aside from just being the spot where Archie Andrews and his girl-next-door bestie Betty Cooper gab about their naïve career goals over milkshakes and grilled cheeses, Pop's is also a key feature in several of the show's most important storylines. Veronica's mother Hermione takes a jobs waitressing at the diner after her husband goes to jail; Fred Andrews, Archie's dad, is shot by the dramatically named "Angel of Death" at Pop's; and a good chunk of the second episode of season 2 is devoted to Betty and Jughead's mission to save the diner when Pop Tate stops getting business.
When we're so engrossed in these wildly entertaining plot lines, it's nearly impossible to remember that Pop's Chock'Lit Shoppe is not actually a real place. However, the most die-hard of fans have not forgotten that in the town of Mission, British Columbia, there's a real-life restaurant called Rocko's Diner that served as the filming location for the Pop's scenes in Riverdale's pilot episode. Now that the show has become a global phenomenon, Rocko's has also been thrust into the spotlight. We got a chance to talk to Debbi Schiller, the owner of Rocko's Diner, and she told us all about what it was like filming with the cast of Riverdale and how things have changed for the business since the show blew up.

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Filming Riverdale

For many of us, coming into close contact with the likes of KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, and of course, Cole Sprouse would send us into an absolute tizzy, but for Rocko's owner Debbi Schiller and her staff, it's just all part of the job. Rocko's has been a film location for several productions, including Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Horns, so by now, the employees know how to keep their cool.
Schiller explained, "We’ve had lots of other companies film here before, and we just kind of do the professional thing about it. Like, they’re there to do their job. We’re just there if, like, have questions about the power breakers, and I have staff that all run the security and stuff. So, we just give them their space. I mean, they’re there trying to work."

Why Rocko's Diner Is So Appealing For Television and Movies

Schiller told us that there's a legal component that goes into making the diner, which came into her family around 35 years ago, so attractive to production companies. "One of the key things that they look at Rocko’s for is because we own our own land and building. We’re one of the last freestanding, independent restaurants on their own property." Beside that, however, Schiller says it's the diner's authentic retro feel that's appealing. "It is from the 50s. This is what the diners were. It’s not a replica, it’s not a franchised chain, you know?"

New Riverdale-Themed Menu Items

After the Riverdale pilot was shot at Rocko's, the restaurant had a few items added to its menu that gave a shoutout to the show. Schiller explained there are now milkshakes named after Archie, Veronica, and Betty, and that Jughead got his own special menu item. "We’ve got 'the Jughead Burger' on the menu now because it’s pretty obvious, like, in the comics, Jughead was that kind of guy."
When asked how Rocko's came up with the new milkshake flavors, Schiller explains that it was a meticulously thought out process. "Oh, we had the staff all work on that. So, it was kind of fun because like, 'The Archie' is a strawberry apple pie... he’s a red headed all-American boy. 'The Veronica' is a chocolate cherry cola because she’s kind of dark, got a little bit of mystery going on. And, 'The Betty Cooper' is a banana, caramel, pecan. She’s not as vanilla as everyone says, you know? She has some layers to her."

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Riverdale's Affect On Business

Though the residence of Mission have long been devoted patrons of Rocko's Diner, Schiller explained that having the hit CW show filmed there has definitely helped the rest of the world discover her little restaurant. Because Mission isn't too far from the U.S.-Canadian border, more people from areas in the Pacific Northwest, like Seattle and Portland, have started bringing their kids up to visit Rocko's. But it's not just new customers, they're getting. "It’s crazy. We’ve gotten Tim Tams — which are a cookie from Australia — girls have sent them for the cast to our restaurant and postcards from Scotland," Schiller said.
While Rocko's isn't a stranger to fame because of its appearances in other film and television productions, Schiller told us that she's never seen business be affected quite this much. "Riverdale has definitely been a major bump. I mean we had Horns and stuff, those types of shows have been filmed here, but Riverdale’s, like, a sensation that’s going on right now. Like, it’s the Twin Peaks, it’s the Dawson’s Creek, like, all the different generations suddenly get this show, and Riverdale is THE show."
Now that eating at Rocko's is on every Riverdale fan's bucket list, the diner is working hard to make sure everyone gets the experience they came for, including their longtime loyal customers. Schiller told us, "Riverdale’s been fantastic. We really like that the kids are coming in and they’re enjoying it and they have a place that they can actually go for something that they love because they love this show... We try our darndest to, you know, take their pictures in the special booth, and the staff know about the special places, and I mean, we just try our best to cater to them as much as we can but still to our regular customers as well. We try to make it positive for everybody."
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