Those who read Maria Semple’s bestselling 2012 novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, know it’s a complicated love-hate letter to the city of Seattle, including its restaurants, where key scenes are set. But even though the book name drops plenty of places residents recognize — such as Lola, Wild Ginger, and Macrina Bakery — the movie version appears to be lacking such representation. In fact, the only Seattle restaurant that the film showcases in character is the SkyCIty Restaurant at the Space Needle … which closed years ago.
Chalk it up to Hollywood logistics. The majority of the movie — opening this weekend to mixed reviews — was filmed in Pittsburgh, Vancouver, and Greenland. “It really comes down to the incentive programs,” director Richard Linklater explained about seeking other locations (although he did film at the Seattle Public Library as well). “The state of Washington doesn’t incentivize. You guys have a lot of industry. There’s a lot of great stuff going on that fuels your economy, but film is not one of them.”
Still, SkyCity (spoiler alert) plays an important role in the movie, despite its current real-life absence. The restaurant — known for its rotating dining room with views of the city and pricey tourist trap food — closed in 2017 for the Space Needle renovations. Even though there was talk of a new spot taking its place by late 2018 once those renovations were complete, things have been quiet on that front. The official Space Needle site says that tower is still working with hospitality designer Adam Tihany on it. There is, however, a wine bar and cafe on the upper observation deck, for those who want to approximate the Bernadette experience.