For the larger-than-normal morning crowd at Davenport's Coffee Hound, two addictions were fueled Wednesday — free caffeine and "Gilmore Girls."
Thanks to a Netflix-sponsored event, the coffee shop on Brady Street temporarily transformed into Luke's Diner, the popular spot seen on TV show "Gilmore Girls," complete with 250 cups of free coffee, Pop-Tarts and branded gear available for customers.
Coffee Hound was one of roughly 200 cafes around the country (as well as five in Canada) selected to host Gilmore-themed pop-up diner experiences to promote the show's upcoming four-episode reboot on Netflix — “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is set to be released on Nov. 25. Wednesday also marked the 16th anniversary of the show's pilot episode.
None of that was news to the steady stream of “Gilmore Girls” fans, some who walked a block over and others who drove two hours, who began trickling in at 5:30 a.m.
“The show wouldn’t be the show without Luke’s and coffee,” said Elizabeth Wagner, a Davenport resident and self-described “Gilmore super-fan.” “It’s super surreal to see this happening right here out of all the places.”
According to a promotional website, townofstarshollow.org, at least one coffee shop in each state hosted a pop-up and some states listed as many 10 locations. Coffee Hound was the only location participating in Iowa and the Quad-Cities. In Illinois, two Chicago-based coffee shops were listed.
That's why many fans drove from places such as Iowa City, Dubuque, Clinton and Des Moines to grab free coffee and to snap photos with Luke's Diner memorabilia.
“I made my friends wake up bright and early to drive here from Dubuque, because it’s Gilmore day,” Molly Huhn, 20, who wore her own Luke’s Diner T-shirt, said. “My dream was to go to Luke’s and it feels like I’m there.”
Paige Allender, who has owned Coffee Hound for six years, said a Netflix representative emailed her about the one-day "Luke's take over" two weeks ago. She received branded costumes, coffee cups and sleeves and Luke's signs in the mail on Monday.
"It was all very last-minute, but super exciting" she said. "I was like, 'Netflix, aren't you cutting it kind of close?'"
When she started pouring coffee at 6 a.m., she was "overwhelmed" by the crowd of people at her shop's walk-up window and the line of cars at the drive-thru.
Get the Weekender Newsletter
Plan your weekend with our hand-picked list of the Quad Cities' best bets for entertainment.
"The show is a big deal, but I've still been so surprised by the amount of people who have reached out about this saying they're coming from all over," Allender, who binge-watched the show two years ago, said. "It's a little bit of an obsession."
As a longtime "Gilmore Girls" fan myself — I have the revival date marked in my iPhone calendar — the frenzy was no surprise to me. A friend in Indianapolis went to a Luke’s Diner pop-up and told me she stood in line for an hour. My mom visited one in Lexington, Kentucky, where four locations participated, and the shop ran out of free coffee.
And at Coffee Hound, if you referenced a character, specific quote or episode from “Gilmore Girls,” someone nearby was quick to nod their head.
Amy Dunleavy drove from Iowa City for a 7 a.m. "Gilmore Girls" coffee date with her sister, Joanna.
"I probably don’t even have to ask if you’re a fan if you’re here,” Amy, 23, said. “You've got your addicts and your die-hard fans, and that's us.”
The show, which originally ran from 2000-2007, follows mother-daughter duo Lorelei and Rory Gilmore, so it's relatable for Lisa Burlingame and her 21-year-old daughter Brooke, who goes to college in Michigan.
"We've seen every single episode several times together — it's our go-to to laugh at and talk about," she said. "There wasn’t one of these happening near her, so I’m sending her photos and saving her a cup — how could I not?"