Light, camera, menus: new TV series shot in restaurant Saline

SALINE, MI – A couple sits across from each other at a table in Saline’s Brecon Grille and Pub. Over tall glasses of water and salt and pepper shakers, she emphatically asks if he remembers her birthday.

He stammers, cracking his brain for the date. Two waitresses stop behind them at the bar, just within earshot.

It’s nothing out of the ordinary for a restaurant that has seen its fair share of dinner dates in downtown Saline for nearly two decades.

However, what stands out this time are the cameras at the elbow of each diner, the overhead lights and the microphone above the table. The conversation only continues until director Michael Sneed, sitting on a chair nearby, says “cut.”

Today, Sunday at the Brecon Grille means showtime. The restaurant serves as the setting for the first season of a new television series, with the working title ‘Waitress’, which is shot weekly in Saline.

Described by star Keyna Reynolds as a “crazy situational comedy,” the show is set entirely in the English-style pub on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Ann Arbor Street.

Reynolds plays Emily — described in one line as both a “sweaty waitress” and an “aspiring actress” — who collects the stories of a rotating cast of clients as she trades with her intern Carmen, played by Naya Moreno.

“I always like comedy that’s real, pushed to its limits,” said Sneed, the show’s writer and director, after filming for the day on Sunday, March 20.

He cites the British comedy series State of the Union as inspiration, about a couple who meet in a pub just before their weekly marriage counseling. Sneed didn’t have a restaurant in mind when he wrote the show.

Fortunately, producer Jennifer Gentner, who lives in Saline, had an idea.

She walked into the Brecon Grille on Friday and asked to speak to the owner. Paul Geragosian, who has owned a pub since it opened in 2002, was wild. Still, “what exactly are you filming?” he wondered.

After another meeting, Geragosian opened the doors of his establishment for the production.

“It’s a restaurant-based show. What’s happening, like what they shot last week, is actually true. It’s not a made-up story that people who understand the restaurant business can’t relate to,” he said.

Geragosian didn’t read the full script, but said he had to duck into his office to avoid bursting into the middle of a scene. He, his wife, and daughters have all served as extras on the show, which preserves the restaurant’s name and logo in its fictional world.

“I want there to be cross promotion. I want it to be there,” said Gentner, whose production company Fat Lucy Films is behind the series along with Sneed’s Legend of the Hawk Productions. “It’s important to me because I live here and I want to bring as much of the production as possible this way.”

As the Brecon Grille turns 20 this summer, Geragosian thinks the show will give his restaurant “more of a story,” joking that he could even add a “Sliced ​​burger” to the menu, in honor of the director.

According to Gentner, Saline has hosted Hollywood stars in the past. The Brecon Grille hosted events for Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, the roller derby drama comedy “Whip It,” starring Ellen Page, when it came to shooting in the city.

The creative minds behind “Waitress” haven’t decided yet on how the show will be distributed, and Gentner said the possibilities could include broadcasting on local TV channels or possibly on a streaming service.

For Reynolds, who is based in Royal Oak, playing a waitress emphasizes traits she brings to work onscreen.

“As an actress, you always analyze people, you analyze human behavior,” she said. “As my character … that’s why I’m so passionate about working here, trying to understand these people and really understand what’s going on.”

As Emily, Reynolds speaks directly to the viewer, “breaking the fourth wall”, by relying directly on the camera. In a coincidental parallel to real life, Reynolds says she met her husband more than a decade ago as a waitress in Royal Oak.

Moreno, who plays Carmen, another waitress at the restaurant, says the movie community in Michigan is “close-knit.” Although she hadn’t worked with Reynolds before, they already find common ground, she said.

“It’s a very supportive, uplifting group of people,” Moreno added.

As the production shoots for its first season, passersby may get used to seeing signs on the door of the eatery that read “Closed Sundays for filming.” That hasn’t stopped a few curious customers from walking in anyway, Geragosian said.

He hopes the show will serve as a draw for his establishment. Sneed praised the pub owner for his hospitality and added that finding the perfect filming location is no easy task.

“It’s a huge asset,” said the director.

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