Tag Archives: famous restaurants

The Beekman Tower Hotel

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While there are several restaurants in New York that I LOVE, there is one in particular that stands out far above the rest.  That restaurant is named the Top of the Tower and it is located on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower Hotel.  Although the Top of the Tower has been one of my favorite places in all of New York for several years now, I had yet to blog about it because up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize it was a filming location – in one of my dad’s favorite movies no less!  Two weeks ago, while looking at the Top of the Tower website, I noticed a small section mentioning that it had been used in film and video shoots.  So I asked Mike, from MovieShotsLA, to call up the hotel to ask what exactly it had been featured in.  For some reason making phone calls like that absolutely terrifies me. I love speaking with people face to face, but phone calls – ugh.  Mike, on the other hand, dreads the face to face, but likes making phone calls.  LOL  What can I say – we make the perfect team.  🙂  So anyway, Mike called up the Beekman Tower for me and found out that among other things, the exterior of the hotel was featured in the Matt Damon flick The Bourne Supremacy.  And voila, a blog post was born.  🙂

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The landmark art deco style Beekman Tower Hotel was built in 1928 by John Mead Howells.  The building’s many ornamental Gothic details were designed by sculptor Rene Chambellan.  The building, which was previously named the Panhellenic Tower, was originally built as an affordable apartment complex for recent female college graduates belonging to the Greek, or Panhellenic, system – hence the name.  According to the book One Thousand New York Buildings, the Panhellenic instantly became a landmark building as it was “a perfect example of vertical force”.  The twenty-six story building housed 400 separate living spaces, a roof solarium with 360 degree sweeping views of Manhattan (that space is now the Top of the Tower restaurant), and a cocktail lounge.  Not bad for affordable housing, huh?  🙂  The Greek Alphabet, which was carved just to the left of the building’s entrance, is still visible to this day.  In 1964 the Panhellenic was sold to a private company who turned it into a regular apartment building.  In the early 90s the building was sold once again and was completely renovated and remodeled and turned into the upscale, all suite Beekman Tower Hotel.  You can view some great photographs of the Panhellenic Building here.

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The Beekman Tower has had several brushes with celebrity.  Katharine Hepburn’s sister was a resident of the Panhellenic Tower in its early years and Ms. Hepburn visited the building frequently.   The photo shoot for Jennifer Hudson’s March 2007 cover story for  Essence Magazine took place at the Top of the Tower.  You can see behind the scenes pics of that photo shoot here.  In November of 2008, a party to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” album was also held at the Top of the Tower.   And as I mentioned earlier, the exterior of the Beekman was used in the filming of The Bourne Supremacy.

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I really can’t recommend stalking the Top of the Tower enough!  The food is amazing – the mashed potatoes and mushroom risotto are some of the best I’ve ever had! – the art deco ambiance is beautiful, and the service is perfection.  But more than anything else, it is the breathtaking views that set this restaurant apart.  The Top of the Tower has some of the most amazing views I have ever experienced in my life – especially at night when the city lights make New York extraodinarily spectacular and romantic.  If you only have one night to spend in Manhattan, the Top of the Tower is the place you should spend it.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It:The Beekman Tower Hotel is located at 3 Mitchell Place, at the corner of 1st Avenue and 49th Street, in New York City.  You can visit their website here.

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I’ve Got the Hippy Hippy Shake!

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I have been a fan of Tom C. Ruz  ever since my early teens and during that time Cocktail  was, of course, one of my very favorite movies.  So I was floored when I found the address of the bar Tom Cruise first worked at in the movie in a book I picked up just before my recent New York trip called Manhattan On Film: Walking Tours of Hollywood’s Fabled Front Lot.  So, while in New York last month, I of course dragged my boyfriend out to stalk the Cocktail  bar – also known as Baker Street Pub and Restaurant.  🙂

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At the time Cocktail  was filmed back in 1988, the space was occupied by a T.G.I. Friday’s Restaurant – the very first T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant, actually.  Friday’s was opened up in 1965 by Alan Stillman, a single New York perfume salesman and wannabe singer who was dying to meet the many stewardesses and models who lived in his Upper East Side neighborhood.  The solution to his single woes?  Buy an old dive bar on the corner of 1st Avenue and 63rd Street, dress it up with what would come to be known as the typical Friday’s decor, and hope that the ladies would follow.  The bar would soon became a smashing success.  So much so that only a week after its grand opening police had to be called in to control the lines outside!  The original Friday’s moved out of the space on 1st Avenue and 63rd Street about thirty years later and an Irish bar named Baker Street Pub and Restaurant moved in.

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Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to grab a drink while we were stalking Baker Street, but I did poke my head inside for a quick peek and it looks like a very cool place to grab a drink and a bite to eat.  🙂  And amazingly, even though Cocktail  was filmed over twenty years ago and the bar has since changed hands, it still looks almost exactly the same today as it did during filming – minus, of course, all of the T.G.I. Friday’s “flair”.  🙂  You can see interior photographs of the bar as it appears today on the Baker Street Pub website.  Supposedly an exact replica of the interior of the bar was built on a Toronto soundstage and all of the filming of Cocktail  took place there, but after watching the movie earlier today it is obvious that at least some filming did actually take place in the real Manhattan bar.  Interestingly enough, the bar named Cell Block that Tommy Boy worked at towards the middle of the movie was an actual Toronto jail that was dressed up to look like a Manhattan Night Club.  You can see pictures of the interior of the jail on MovieShotsLA.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Baker Street and Restaurant is located at 1152 1st Avenue on New York’s Upper East Side.  You can visit their website here.

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The Campbell Apartment

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One of my favorite bars in all of New York is called the Campbell Apartment and it is located right inside the most famous train depot of them all, Grand Central Station.  I discovered the bar thanks to a guide book I was reading during my first trip to New York, back in December of 2005.

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The Campbell Apartment was never actually an apartment at all, but rather the business office of millionaire railroad tycoon John William Campbell.  In 1920, after retiring from his position as chairman of Credit Clearing House, Campbell became a member of the board of the New York Public Railroad and decided to find a suitable office for himself close to Grand Central Station.  In 1923, Campbell found his perfect office – a 3,500 square foot single room located right inside Grand Central Station.  The room measured 35 feet wide, 60 feet long, and had 25 foot high ceilings.  Campbell hired New York architect Augustus N. Allen to renovate the large room into his dream Florentine-style office – and no expense was spared in doing so.  The office became a sort of museum, housing a million dollar art collection which consisted of vases, statues, rare books, and antique rugs.  One of those rugs covered the entire floor of the large room and was worth a reported $300,000.  The office featured gorgeous leaded windows, dark wood-paneled walls, a large marble fireplace, 13th Century Italian furnishings, a huge steel safe, a grand piano and a pipe organ.  Besides conducting his business affairs there, Campbell and his wife would often entertain in his office, as well, hosting large groups of friends for dinner, dancing, and cocktails. 

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Those parties perhaps served as the inspiration for Mark Grossich, current owner of the Campbell Apartment.  Mark purchased the space in 1999, 42 years after John Campbell’s death.  In the interim between Campbell’s death and Grossich’s purchase, the once grand space fell into serious disarray, at different times serving as a warehouse, a storage room, and even a jail!  Mark had the foresite to restore the beautiful space to its former glory, hoping that Grand Central commuters of today would step into the grand office of yesterday to sip “cocktails from another era”.  And indeed they did.  Ten years later they are still coming – in droves.  As I learned on my first visit to the Campbell Apartment, most nights it’s standing room only.

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On that first visit back in 2005, I pulled what my boyfriend likes to call my “Sex and the City coup”.  In the Season One episode of SATC  entitled “The Power of Female Sex”, Carrie and the girls are repeatedly denied entrance to hot new New York eatery Balzac.  After their final failed attempt to dine at the eatery, Carrie makes a pit stop at Balzac’s restroom.  While there she runs into the hostess who denied them entry only moments before and who is currently in need of a tampon.  Carrie provides it, and after her good deed, never again has trouble getting a table at Balzac.  🙂  Well, on our first trip to the Campbell Apartment, we put our names in with the hostess and were told it was going to be at least an hour wait.  It was at that point that I noticed the hostess’ sparkling, two carat, princess cut, diamond engagement ring and proceeded to drool all over it.  Ever since I was old enough to know what an engagement ring was, I have known that I want a princess cut one.  I don’t care how big it is, or what “clarity” or “color”, but my boyfriend knows that if he wants me to say yes, he had better be proposing with a princess cut.  🙂  Well, the hostess LOVED that I loved her ring and even let me try the huge rock on.  I was dying, it was so beautiful . . . and big!  Well, not five minutes later we were seated at one of the best spots in the bar.  🙂  As my mom always says, the quickest way to a girl’s heart is to compliment her engagement ring.  🙂

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I am actually very surprised that Campbell Apartment was not featured in an episode of Sex and the City – it seems like just the place Carrie and the girls would kick back a few cosmos.  But the Campbell Apartment was featured in the pilot episode of the ever-popular teen soap Gossip Girl as the location of Serena and Nate’s illicit affair (pictured above).  The bartender told us that the bar was also used in one of this season’s GG episodes, but he was unsure of which one.  I guess he’s not a big Gossip Girl  fan.  🙂  The bar has also been host to many movie wrap parties and industry get-togethers.

I can’t recommend stalking the Campbell Apartment enough!  It is an absolutely fabulous place to grab a drink.  Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time to a more glamorous and fabulous era – the era of Old New York. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

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Stalk It: The Campbell Apartment is located at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue, inside Grand Central Station, in New York.  Baseball caps and tennis shoes are not permitted, so dress appropriately.  You can visit the Campbell Apartment website here.

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Gray’s Papaya

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 I know I have blogged about this location briefly once before in my You’ve Got Filming Locations page, but I think this is one location that is worthy of its very own blog post.  So here goes.  🙂  I have long been a fan of Gray’s Papaya, a small hot dog stand/restaurant chain that was started in 1973 on New York’s Upper West Side.  Today, 36 years later, it is practically a New York institution.  Gray’s serves up the BEST darn hot dogs I have ever eaten in my life.  I honestly don’t know what they put in there that makes ’em taste so darn good, but I sure want them to keep doing it!  Every year, during my December New York vacation, I gain a few pounds in my stomach region thanks to Gray’s and its fabulous hot dogs.  So I was super excited, while watching Sex and the City  reruns this past week, to see Gray’s pop up in a Season 5 episode entitled “Plus One is the Loneliest Number”.

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That episode centers around the launch party for Carrie’s newly published book – a party for which she has no date.  When she leaves the celebration all alone, her limo driver happens to ask her what the party was for.  When Carrie tells her that she has just published a book, the driver says that they have to celebrate the occasion and the two stop off at Gray’s Papaya for a midnight snack.  And, after hearing about Carrie’s new book, the Gray’s worker gives them the hot dogs for free.  This scene was actually based on the real life experience of SATC  write Cindy Chupack.  According to fave book Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell, after winning her first Emmy, dateless Cindy left the post-Emmy party alone and was headed home when the limo driver asked her about her night.  When the driver found out Cindy had just won an Emmy, she immediately headed to a McDonald’s drive-through to commemorate the occasion.  After the driver announced that Cindy had just won the award, the McDonald’s worker gave her a free chocolate shake.  🙂  For the SATC  episode, producers decided to use Gray’s Papaya instead of McDonald’s because SJP has always been a big fan of the hot dog chain.  🙂

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Gray’s was also featured quite notably near the end of You’ve Got Mail, as the location where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks eat lunch just before Meg heads off to meet NY152 for the first time (pictured above). 

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Besides You’ve Got Mail and Sex and the City, Grey’s also showed up in one of my very favorite movies, For Love or Money (pictured above).  It was also featured in Down to Earth, Crossing Delancy, and (very briefly) Die Hard With A Vengeance.

Nicholas A.B. Gray opened up the first Gray’s Papaya in 1973 with the belief that a good hot dog didn’t have to be costly.   Thirty-six years later Gray’s is still serving up excellent dogs at low prices, even if they’ve had to raise those prices a few times over the years.  In October of 2008, due to increased business expenses, Gray’s raised the cost of its ever-popular Recession Special (two hot dogs and a drink) from $3.50 to $4.45.  Still not bad for what is easily the best hot dog in New York.  I highly recommend stalking Gray’s – your pocketbook won’t mind at all.  Your pants’ size might, but not your pocketbook.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The main Gray’s Papaya – the one that was featured in all of the above productions –  is located at 2090 Broadway Street on New York’s Upper West Side.  There are also two other Gray’s locations in Manhattan.   One is located at 402 6th Avenue and the other can be found at 539 8th Avenue.  All Gray’s restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Location Scout-ing!

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While in New York, I just had to take a jaunt over to the real life bar which stood in for Scout, the watering hole owned by Carrie and Miranda’s exes, Steve and Aiden, on Sex and the City.  The bar first showed up in the Season Four episode entitled “Ghost Town”, in which Miranda and Carrie are forced to face the ghosts of their relationships past at the grand opening of their exes’ new bar.  Scout (real name Onieal’s Grand Street) showed up quite a few times during Sex and the City’s  run, most notably during Season Four.

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Although I didn’t have a chance to step inside and grab a cocktail at Onieal’s on this trip – as I have said before there was just so much to stalk and so little time – from looking at the interior photographs of the restaurant online, I am guessing that producers chose to use the bar because of its rich mahogany interior.  In SATC, Carrie’s furniture-maker ex-boyfriend Aidan was supposed to have built the entire interior of the bar by hand, and Onieal’s hand carved ceiling (which was flown in from Venice many years ago) and wood-paneled walls fit in perfectly with that idea.

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I found this location thanks to fave stalking book New York: The Movie Lover’s Guide, but Onieal’s is also featured in a fabulous book that I purchased for my boyfriend this past Christmas called The Histories and Stories of the Best Bars of New York.  The chapter on Onieal’s chronicles its sordid history as a speakeasy, a brothel, and a gambling establishment.  Owner Chris Onieal opened up the bar in 1995 on the corner of Grand Street and Centre Market Place, in a space that has housed a bar of one type or another since 1875.  The most notorious bar that stood on that spot was named the Press Room and it was located directly across the street from NYPD headquarters.  During prohibition a tunnel was dug connecting the bar to the police department so that New York’s finest had easy (and secret) access to a watering hole.

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Interestingly enough, in the SATC  episode entitled “Ghost Town”, Carrie brings Aidan a mulberry bush as a bar-warming gift.  She says “Because your new bar is located on Mulberry Street.”  Well, that’s not exactly true.  Onieal’s Grand Street is located on Grand Street, as the name suggests, in between Mulberry Street and Centre Market Place, but on the Centre Market Place side.  Mulberry Street is actually a full block down from Onieal’s entrance.  In the above screen capture, you can see that they even went so far as to put up a street sign saying “Mulberry” outside of the bar.  LOL 

Even though I didn’t have a chance to grab a cocktail at Onieal’s, it is definitely high up on my list of things to do next year.  It looks like a very cool place to spend an evening and I highly recommend stalking it.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Scout aka Onieal’s Grand Street Bar is located at 174 Grand Street in SoHo.  You can visit their website here.

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Billy’s Bakery

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 At the risk of looking like a total and complete dork (not to mention a fool!), I thought I’d post some pretty idiotic photographs that I took on my very first trip to New York.  At the time I was completely obsessed with Katie Holmes.  This was in December of 2005, in the pre-Suri days, before her Jackie O. transformation, back when she was known as Katie, not Kate.  A few months before my trip to New York, Katie was featured in a cover story for InStyle Magazine which chronicled her new single gal status, her life in Manhattan, and her favorite NYC hangouts.  Most of the photo shoot for the article took place in Chelsea at Katie’s favorite bakery and cupcakery, Billy’s – a place she frequented almost daily at the time.   As Tom once said about his wife, “She loves cupcakes, okay?  I mean the girl loves cupcakes.”  🙂  Well, I absolutely LOVED that InStyle  article.  So much so that my copy of that issue is still sitting on my bookshelf all these years later.  So, on my first trip to the big apple, I just HAD to drag my boyfriend out to Chelsea to stalk Katie’s fave cupcake maker.  And, while there, I also just had to recreate her photo shoot.  Yes, I am that big of a dork.  🙂 LOL

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The story behind Billy’s is actually quite an unusual one.  Billy Reece, a cupcake aficionado who idolized Martha Stewart, founded  Billy’s Bakery with two partners in December of 2003.   Billy started his baking career working at the ever-popular Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich for two years before quitting to begin his own baked goods venture. Billy’s Bakery became an overnight success.  Not long afterwards Billy Reece changed his name to Lauren Reece  and, thanks to some hormone treatments and a surgery, Billy ceased to be.  Shortly after that, Lauren sold her stake in Billy’s to her two co-founders, Marc and Wayne, and is now enjoying her new life  as a woman.  So, in a city where change seems to be the only constant, it’s only fitting that not even a popular cupcake bakery’s namesake could remain the same. 

But even without the original Billy at the helm, the small bakery has remained a success.  The owners are currently planning to expand their business with another location in the same neighborhood.  I can’t help but think that Katie may have had something to do with the shop’s blitz of success.  Even after she met Tom and moved back to L.A., Katie remained faithful to the bakery.  Billy’s not only supplied the cupcakes for Katie’s 27th birthday party at F.A.O. Schwartz in December of 2005, but they also reportedly made the cake for her 2006 wedding.  But Katie is certainly not Billy’s only celebrity fan.  Ethan Hawke, Mandy Moore, and Bungalow 8 club founder Amy Sacco are also fans of the neighborhood bakery.  Billy’s has also been featured on Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, MTV Diary Katie Holmes, The Today Show, MTV’s Boiling Point, the CBS Early Show, the Food Network’s Roker On The Road, and Martha Stewart’s television show Martha. 

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Billy’s Bakery is an adorable little cupcake shop and with its yellow painted brick walls and cute and homey decor, it looks like it came straight out of a kitchen advertisement from the 1940s.  I wanted to spend all day there. 🙂  But while the cupcakes were tasty, I have to say that they are just not as good as my, and SJP’s, New York fave Magnolia Bakery.  But I still highly recommend stalking Billy’s, as much for the homey ambiance as for the desserts.  Besides cupcakes, they also serve pies and cakes, which are supposed to be out of this world, as well.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Billy’s Bakery is located at 184 9th Avenue in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.  You can visit their website here.

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Kansas City Barbeque – Back and Better Than Ever!

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I thought I’d take a little break today from my NYC blogging – and yes, I do have many more Manhattan filming locations to write about 🙂 – to do a little post about an old favorite of mine – Kansas City Barbeque in San Diego, or as it is more commonly known, the Top Gun Bar.  The restaurant, which suffered from a devastating fire on June 26th of last year, recently reopened this past November – just in time to serve up it’s annual free Thanksgiving dinner for active duty military.  And I had yet to stalk the place since it’s grand reopening.  So a few weeks ago, while in San Diego celebrating my best friend’s college graduation, I dragged my boyfriend out for a little post-fire stalking. 

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I am happy to report that despite the interior of the restaurant needing to be almost entirely redone due to smoke and fire damage, Kansas City Barbeque still looks pretty much the same as it did in Top Gun.  Some of the changes that were made – the bar area was remodeled and altered slightly, skylights were added to the dining room, the kitchen was entirely rebuilt, and new exterior awnings were installed.  But other than looking a bit shinier and newer, it’s still the same old Kansas City Barbeque we all knew and loved.  🙂  And I am very, very happy to report that much of the Top Gun memorabilia actually survived the fire, including Goose’s piano, which was actually owner Martin Blair’s childhood piano.

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Some items that were sadly ruined in June’s fire?  The many autographed headshots of celebs who had frequented KCBBQ in the past.   A few stars were kind enough to send in replacement pics, though, after being contacted by Martin after the fire.  How cool is that??  Brooke Shields, Andre Agassi, Richard Dean Anderson, a few Padres players, and Jerry Lewis all sent in new headshots to be placed on KCBBQ’s new walls.  Ostensibly missing from the headshot wall, though, is Tom Cruise, who was apparently contacted for a new pic, but has yet to send one in.  Personally I think that’s pretty darn crappy, especially since Maverick was the role that made him a star.  But, hey, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because, despite his couch-jumping antics and Pro-Scientology rants, I still believe that deep down Tommy is a really nice guy.  I just can’t help it.  🙂  I am guessing that Tom C. Ruz  is a pretty hard guy to get ahold of and maybe his publicist just isn’t giving him KCBBQ’s message.  So Tommy, if you’re out there, do the right thing and send your headshot to Kansas City Barbeque.  While you’re at it, thrown in one of Katie and Suri, as well.  🙂  Other stars who have frequented the legendary restaurant include Lorenzo Llamas, Dennis Rodman, and Dallas’  Charlene Tilton. 

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I highly recommend stalking KCBBQ, even if you are not a Top Gun  fan.  The bar has a great atmosphere and serves us some fabulous food – especially the French fries.  I ate an entire plate of them!  Not kidding.  🙂   

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

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Stalk It:Kansas City Barbeque is located at 610 W. Market Street in Downtown San Diego.

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