He makes movies, he puts New Jersey in movies, and he sells vegan Cow Tippers.
After Kevin Smith made his Mooby’s fast food restaurant a reality in West Hollywood and Red Bank, he took his fictional burger chain pop-ups across the country.
Now he’s back. And as the Highlands guy continues to film his upcoming movie “Clerks III” in New Jersey, he’s bringing the pop-up fast food restaurant to Red Bank again this fall.
Or, as the announcement read in our inboxes Tuesday afternoon, “RED mother f—in BANK!!! Snooooochies!!!!”
Before word arrived that the pop-up would be opening again, Smith shared with fans on social media that the fictional fast food business would play a role in “Clerks III,” which has been filming in Red Bank and at the Quick Stop in Leonardo, the same convenience store that made Smith famous in his breakout debut “Clerks” in 1994.
“Clerks” and “Clerks II” stars Brian O’Halloran (Dante Hicks), Jeff Anderson (Randal Graves), Jay Mewes, Newark resident Rosario Dawson (Becky) and Trevor Fehrman (Elias) have been filming “Clerks III” since early August.
Dawson filmed scenes at Gianni’s, which stood in for the Mooby’s from “Clerks II.”
“It was magical seeing Dante, Randal, Becky, Elias, and @jayandsilentbob reunited, and it was at the same site where we did the first @moobyspopup outside of L.A. last fall!” Smith enthused on Instagram.
“Kids, I *love* what Clerks III is shaping up to be!” he said. A photo from the set shared by the Jay and Silent Bob Instagram account and published in Vanity Fair shows Dawson, O’Halloran, Anderson and Fehrman at the Quick Stop, one of many images that have emerged from the few weeks of filming that Smith and cast members have faithfully documented on social media.
In “Clerks III,” Randal has an awakening inspired by a major life event from Smith’s own timeline: his near-fatal heart attack, the one that drove him to a vegan diet in 2018 and to drop 50 pounds. The jaded clerk from Smith’s debut film, jolted by a heart attack to examine his own mortality, follows in the director’s footsteps by helming his own movie based at the Quick Stop.
Sure, art imitates life, but just how did Smith — director, writer and producer — become a real-life fast food entrepreneur?
The pandemic. Thanks to COVID-19 squashing plans for another pop-up restaurant, Smith was able to capitalize on a vacancy in a West Hollywood space to sell burgers inspired by the Mooby’s restaurant first seen in his 1999 film “Dogma” that became the setting for “Clerks II” (2006).
“Paramount was going to do a ‘Clueless’ pop-up in that space at that time,” the director told NJ Advance Media last year. Derek Berry, who had created other pop-up restaurants inspired by TV and film — “Saved by the Bell” and “Good Burger” — asked Smith if he was interested in making Mooby’s the next one.
Smith wondered if people would be up for the fanciful concept as COVID-19 raged, but the idea, implemented with scheduled pick-up times and social distancing, proved to be a success, and food delivery website Goldbelly started selling Mooby’s meals nationwide.
“It did wind up thriving,” Smith said. “I guess people felt that during the pandemic it was a nice relief, something to do.”
The director’s usual order is a vegan Cow Tipper and Hater Totz — the tater tots unsuccessfully hawked by Fred Armisen’s character from the 2019 film “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.”
Last fall, fans paid $28 for Mooby’s meals that included a choice of burger or sandwich, like the C-ck Smoker chicken sandwich or the lasagna sandwich made with Beyond Meat.
Anyone interested in Mooby’s can join the mailing list for early reservations or order a “custom boxed Mooby’s pizza” from Gianni’s via the restaurant’s app at moobyspopup.com.
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