Joe Fox’s (Tom Hanks) Fox Books superstore (modeled after a Barnes & Noble on 66th Street and Broadway that’s now ironically a Century 21) was a major threat to Kathleen Kelly’s (Meg Ryan) modest and intimate Shop Around The Corner. Though Fox Books — a so-called “Price Club” shilling books instead of olive oil — was supposed to open on the Upper West Side, the exterior was actually shot at the corner of 17th Street and 7th Avenue at the Rubin Museum of Art, not far from Books of Wonder, the actual children’s bookstore upon which Kathleen’s shop was based. You’ll be happy to know that it’s still standing at 18 West 18th St. (between 5th and 6th avenues).
Kathleen and her then-boyfriend Frank (Greg Kinnear) took in a movie at what’s nowAMC Loews Lincoln Square 13. It’s there that they got in a fight over politics, were hushed by a fellow moviegoer, went to dinner, and decided they were not that into each other. It’s actually one of the healthiest break-ups ever.
Kathleen’s children’s book store could not have been cuter. Even Joe couldn’t deny its adorableness when he stopped by with his aunt and half-brother (neither of whom were even tweens because his father and grandfather have each been married a few times). For the exterior, they filmed at Maya Shaper’s Cheese and Antique Shop, which has since closed sadly. Then, it turned into Cafe Sonatina, which has also shut down. These days, it’s La Mode Cleaners.
Once Joe and Kathleen became closer, but before Joe revealed he was NY152, they grabbed a hot dog at New York City mainstay Gray’s Papaya. And one can be yours for the low price of $1.25. Caution: Do not be fooled by the similarly named Papaya King, Papaya Dog, or Mike’s Papaya if you’re looking for an authentic You’ve Got Mailexperience.
As Kathleen and Joe’s relationship continued to grow, they shared some fried calamari at the Upper West Side eatery Ocean Grill, a sister restaurant to Union Square locale Blue Water Grill and Upper East Side restaurant Atlantic Grill, and discussed what the 152 in the mysterious NY152 handle could mean. “He’s 152 years old. He’s had 152 moles removed, so now he’s got 152 pock marks on his face,” Joe joked, knowing full well that 152 was a reference to his address (See No. 3). “The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable,” Kathleen retorted, before Joe jumped back in with, “152 people who think he looks like a Clark Bar.”
Joe’s future stepmother Jillian and Nanny Maureen — who eventually ran off together — dropped off his half-brother Matt and his aunt Annabelle at the 79th Street Boat Basin for a day sailing with Joe. But they weren’t that into it and instead, the strange trifecta of relatives ended up at The Shop Around The Corner, where Joe pretended he wasn’t the man who was about to put Kathleen out of business. Later, she told him, “I could never be with anyone who has a boat.” Little did she know…
In one email, Joe waxed poetic to Kathleen about the bagel place around the corner from his apartment and how every night, a truck pumps a ton of flour into the ground, filling the air with white powder. That “bagel place” was the famed H&H Bagels, the New York City kosher bagel establishment, which sadly refused to put cream cheese on its delicious holy bread and is now (extra sadly) a Verizon Wireless.
Joe and Kathleen’s tension reached a climatic point during a Thanksgiving-time run-in at the legendary Upper West Side grocer Zabar’s (on the opposite corner of H&H… RIP). Though she tried to avoid him while shopping, when she accidentally found herself on a cash-only line and cashier Rose (played by Grey’s Anatomy star and Tony-winner Sara Ramirez) refused to use her card, Joe annoyingly came to the rescue. “This is Kathleen, I’m Joe, and this is a credit card machine,” he elementarily intro’d.
Kathleen and Joe (separately) stopped by this Starbucks numerous times and Joe even emailed about his issue with the chain in an epic rant. “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee,” he explained. “So people who don’t know what they hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self.” He sure did go there a lot though for someone who felt so strongly about it. Also, be warned: Any coffee that requires six decisions is no longer $2.95 at Starbucks.
Joe and Kathleen decided to meet at Cafe Lalo for coffee. (Sorry, Starbucks.) But the incredibly fearful Mr. Fox brought along his brand managers and friend Kevin (Dave Chappelle) to peak inside the window to check out the mysterious ShopGirl, despite saying, “If she turns out to be even as good-looking as a mailbox, I’d be crazy not to turn my life upside down and marry her.” Charming. When Kevin realized Kathleen was the woman behind the handle, Joe decided to storm in, hijack his own date, and feign like Kathleen was stood up. God, he was the worst.
At Barney Greengrass, Kathleen shared what looked like a turkey sandwich and some iced tea with Birdie (Jean Stapleton), a friend of her late mother who still worked at The Shop Around The Corner. It’s basically the uptown equivalent of Katz’s and all When Harry Met Sally fans know how Meg Ryan feels about a good Jewish deli sandwich.
Joe lived at 152 Riverside Drive, not far from the Will & Grace crew at 155 Riverside or Liz Lemon at 168 Riverside, to name a few other famed fictional characters from the area. The address is, as previously mentioned, how he got his screenname, though Kathleen once said of the possibility, “He would never do anything that prosaic.” That address doesn’t actually exist (though it would be somewhere between 87th and 88th Streets), so for the interior, Tom Hanks and Parker Posey (who played his former girlfriend Patricia) shot at 210 Riverside Drive at 93rd Street, including inside that building’s elevator, where their characters got stuck and then, broke up.
Kathleen shared what looked like a huge alcove studio with Frank where she sneakily logged onto AOL daily to talk to NY152. “What will he say today, I wonder,” she narrated at the start of the film. “I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it boots up.” Oh, 1998. Though the interior of the apartment was built on a sound stage, Kathleen’s apartment was where her relationship with Joe took a surprisingly pleasant turn after he brought her daisies while she was sick.
In the final minutes of the film, Joe finally revealed himself to Kathleen as the man behind NY152, bringing his dog Brinkley to meet her “in Riverside Park where the path curves.” When she saw him, as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” played in the background, she said through tears, “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” Cue a long-awaited kiss that proves you can find love online.
Taylor GoldblattAfter years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.