Business is back to normal at Howard’s Restaurant this week after Hollywood recently took over the Smyrna favorite eating establishment.
“It felt like a circus had come to town, times ten!” said Bobby Martin, who along with his wife Sandra owns the friendly restaurant that’s been a city mainstay since 1964.
The craziness came with the arrival of Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and the entire “Joyful Noise’’ film crew to shoot a scene for the upcoming movie. The restaurant was closed Feb. 25-March 1 as trucks filled the parking lot and a crew of 150-plus people descending upon the Concord Road eatery.
The film centers on characters played by Parton and Latifah in a power struggle to determine who is better suited to run a church choir. The scene filmed at Howard’s featured a massive food fight between the characters that was reportedly hilarious to witness among all who saw.
According to a media representative with the film’s production company, the scene is expected to be one of the highlights of the film.
Martin said he “cooked, cleaned, cooked, cleaned, and then did it again,’’ as there were club sandwiches, spaghetti, pizza, wings, burgers, and salads flying through the air.
“Queen Latifah was hilarious and kept everyone laughing,” said Martin, who clearly enjoyed being a part of the movie-making experience.
Martin added that Parton was “nice and friendly,’’ as well, and he was pleased that Queen Latifah sported a Howard’s apron and that the restaurant’s name could appear in the scene.
Martin invited his family, friends and staff to be among the 65 extras utilized, including Mayor Max Bacon, who played a satisfied Howard’s customer, which he actually is in real life. Martin himself played the part of a customer, while his two daughters were a cashier and a hostess.
“I wasn’t doing it for the money, but for the fun of it,’’ he said. “It is also nice to have my restaurant in a movie.”
“Joyful Noise’’ is being produced by the same company that produced the hit “The Blind Side." It has a January 2012 tentative release date.