Sweet Home Alabama: Then and Now – 12 Years Later
Stella’s Roadhouse (Heavy’s Bar-B-Q)
Stella’s Roadhouse, the local honky-tonk redneck dive, is the bar where Melanie gets hammered, insults all of her childhood friends, fights with Jake, and then pukes in his truck to end the evening on a high note.
Heavy’s Bar-B-Q was built in 1978 and opened its doors for business in March 1979. The family-owned BBQ joint has been a local favorite for more than 35 years and it’s still open today. Since Heavy’s isn’t a real bar it had to be transformed to look like one for the movie. In order for this to happen, the set dressers moved a lot of Heavy’s decorations to a storage facility since the items didn’t fit well in a bar theme. However, those decorations were temporarily replaced with a large wood bar and several other items that were rented for the shoot. Some of the items rented include: pool tables, neon signs, billiard lightning, bar tables and stools, telephone booth, and pictures. As seen in the movie, the film crew did an awesome job with the place.
While Heavy’s was used as the filming location for all the bar scenes we see throughout the movie, scenes of Jake and Melanie’s surprise party seen at the end of the movie were actually shot on a set in Glendale, California. Reason being, the storyline changed sometime after filming ended so the cast was brought back together for one day in July 2002, approximately 7 months after filming wrapped, to reshoot the ending. This time, however, instead of gathering at Heavy’s for the shoot, they recreated the bar scene on a set to mirror Heavy’s. Although it’s almost impossible for the average viewer to notice the differences in the bar while watching the movie, the scenes at the end look awfully different than the earlier bar scenes seen in the movie. The next time you watch the movie, pay attention to the stained glass design on the front door as well as the Coca-Cola menu board located to the right.
Aside from the two Stella’s Roadhouse signs that occupied the front of the establishment in the movie, this place looks frozen in time. The hanging lights, cement picnic tables, Civil War cannons, and the pig on the roof appear to be in the same condition and position today as they were in the film.
We had a great time visiting Heavy’s. After we ate lots and lots of BBQ we had a chance to sit down and chat with the family who owns the joint, as well as speak with a few locals who frequent the restaurant. They all shared their personal stories about the filming of Sweet Home Alabama and we even had an opportunity to look through a behind-the-scenes photo album. Nice folks!