Scott Patterson Shares the Biggest Influence in His Life, His Love of Books, and Why He Loves Working with Small Businesses
I watched Gilmore Girls for the first time in 2017, and I’ve re-watched the series at least 3 times since then – it was a life changing experience. I had the incredible opportunity to have a phone conversation with Scott Patterson, who played Luke Danes on Gilmore Girls, who now owns his own coffee company, Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee. We talked coffee, The Great Gatsby, life, travel, and of course Gilmore Girls. I left the conversation inspired.
Lauren – Travel and Write Today: I was going to ask about your favorite books, but I ended up discovering the answer to this from a previous interview that you had done. The Great Gatsby is my favorite book too.
Scott Patterson: His prose is unrivaled and is my go-to read when I’m craving not only perfect structure but also unique ability to elevate the mundane into moments of pure magic. Such a gifted writer. So measured, so wildly talented, such longing. It’s palpable, unattainable in a “class” sense and quite satisfying to know that the uber-wealthy are capable of suffering to that extent.
There is an obscure writer, Elton Anglada, published through Tapestry Press – just stunning writing. One of the best examples of eclecticism I have ever seen.
TWT: It is time for a Gatsby re-read.
Scott Patterson: It is the perfect time of year, but it needs to be at the beach. Fitzgerald and the beach, for me, go hand-in-hand.
TWT: Describe your favorite spot to sit down with a hot cup of your coffee.
Scott Patterson: It would be at the beach in the summer, mountains in the winter (they both would involve a fireplace). I like to read by the light of the fireplace.
TWT: Can you talk a little more about the benefits of the 5 Star Business Program? What are some ideal partners for Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee?
Scott Patterson: We love small businesses that are excited to work with us. Our entire DNA is to support small businesses – this is how I envisioned building a brand. If you want great partners, you have to be a great partner. We offer social media expertise, along with our passion, and our allegiance to brands that want to join in – we promote their business, and they promote ours. It is kind of delightful dealing with small business owners because they are so hard working, and hopeful. We come along and they are very excited. We see the best in people, and it is bringing out the best in us – this is what we like to do.
We are launching a subscription service which will make any number of products available we have a name for it, and we plan to launch around Christmas, but ordering will be available starting in October. We are still working out the details.
TWT: I would love to see you partner with some inns, hotels, and restaurants in the North East. What are some of your favorite spots to visit in New England?
Scott Patterson: When I was a kid, I spent time with my family on Moosehead Lake in Maine. We spent time at a cabin in the woods every summer. Sometimes we spent time in the mountains. We would fish, putter around in the boat, chop wood… This was a destination from my childhood.
I did the amfAR/Kiehl’s LifeRide, we left New York City in mid-August, and did an 11-day ride through New England, and we ended up in Boston. The ride ended up back in Philadelphia. We visited and stayed in nice inns and resorts throughout New England. We went to Provincetown, which is just a stunning place. (This is a great organization, great guys and gals, great people…)
Another favorite spot in the Northeast are the Hamptons. I lived in New York for a while and in the summer we would stay at a rental property in the Hamptons. Those were great times. Montauk and Southampton – these are beautiful places.
The Northeast is filled with beauty, and it is different than a lot of other regions. You can’t beat the Northeast, and you can’t beat the change of seasons.
TWT: What are some of your favorite places you’ve lived?
Scott Patterson: I’ve lived in a lot of different places all over the United States, Europe, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, etc., so it’s really hard to nail down one place but I had the experience in my mid-twenties that changed me forever and set me on my present course. I had left pro ball after seven years, got on a plane to Europe with a plan to get lost and just live life outside of any kind of regimented structure. It was time to travel, explore, meet new people, have new experiences and that’s exactly what I did.
I started in the northern part of Europe and worked my way down to the Italian Mediterranean, Africa, Spain over an eighteen month period. Met some extraordinary people and made some deep friendships that endure to this day. I travelled to a small island in the Mediterranean that sits between Corsica and Sardinia called La Madelena. Tiny place, but the ocean so aqua blue/green, the docks, the fishermen, the seaside cafes, the US Navy, Nuclear Submarines (we have or had a base there), the sheer beauty of this place just bowled me over. On the other side of the island there was this massive rock about half a mile out into the ocean, and after a wonderful seafood dinner at the mountain-top hotel – The Cala Lunga – and several bottles of wine, we all decided to walk down to the beach, remove our clothes, and under the full moon, swim all the way out to that rock.
To truly describe the depth of feeling that evening produced would take a Nabokov or, yes, a Fitzgerald…..and even a Marquez or Cervantes, for I do not possess the powers of the written word to do that night in the Mediterranean any justice.
I will tell you it changed my life in many ways and all of them good. I think back on that night often and with great fondness. Always will. By the way, I now get that feeling every day, all day with my son. Life can be pure magic in the right setting with the right people.
TWT: You have so many interests, hobbies, and passions – it is so great.
Scott Patterson: I am interested in everything; it is how I grew up. I grew up in a family of
academics and we had a huge library in our house so my best friends growing up were books. My son reads a book a day to us, and I want his reading skills to be high level. He understands how important it is – he doesn’t need everything explained to him anymore. Reading is crucial – it will dictate how happy my son is, the questions he asks, and where he goes in life. If I do one thing as a father it would be to instill a love of books, then I will know I have done my job.
My family is eccentric, and we were always interested in many different things. Those dinner table conversations were epic in scope and, as a kid, I remember hanging on every word going between my mom and dad. Fascinating people and both great story tellers – my mom especially. I grew up with a sense that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that nothing is out of reach. Curiosity is probably the one word that best describes how I’ve approached life – evolution, too. Another key concept. I still have the same sheer wonder and fascination with the world and I get that from my parents.
TWT: While you were filming Gilmore Girls did you realize the impact that it was going to have, and that 20 years later fans would still be discovering the show and watching and re-watching the series? It is such a special show.
Scott Patterson: I knew that Gilmore Girls was a quality show, it was an unusual show, and I was surprised to be in it. At the time, movie stars started crossing over to television. I knew the show was of unusually high quality, but you cannot predict how the audience is going to embrace it. I couldn’t predict that it would be woven into the tapestry of American life the way that it has – it is practically Smithsonian Americana. No one saw that – it is just one of those fluke things.
I understand that when the writers were pitching ideas to the networks they were getting rejected across the board, and then there was this mother/daughter thing, and it was based in Connecticut, it was off-the-cuff, and it wasn’t fully-formed at the time, and it is amazing what it has become. It is a religion, and it might turn out to be the most watched television show in history. It is in syndication all over the planet. People watch the show every day – they watch before work, on the weekends, they watch all the time. That’s surprising. I was never lucky, but I got lucky with this one.
The show kind of continues to grow, and it will be interesting to see where it goes. The show is highly literate, and obscure, it is funny, fast-paced, wonderful, and rare. It is a safe place, and there has never been anything like it, and there has never been anything like it again. It’s the proverbial unicorn.
TWT: Did you drink the coffee you brewed at Luke’s Diner in between scenes? I know that Luke Danes is more of a tea drinker.
Scott Patterson: Sometimes, but not that coffee. It wasn’t hot. Some days yes, some days no.
TWT: You manifested the show lasting for years.
Scott Patterson: It just seemed like a no-brainer that it would go at least five seasons. That was my initial reaction to the material. It had something that no other script had, so many crosscurrents, so hybrid and fraught with risk.
I am going to say this definitively; the only reason the show lasted seven seasons is because of the fans. The way they supported us was felt, appreciated, and kept us all going. It was hard to keep going, nevertheless. Allow me to explain; with the wrong casting this thing could have fallen flat and never gotten out of the gate. I know the writing has taken the lions-share of the credit for its overall success, but try and imagine other actors in these roles and what effect that would have had on the tone, feel, sensibility of the show.
Each actor brought such a unique, innate, and instinctual energy to their respective roles and it was just crushing that over a seven-year period not one actor received any real recognition for doing such high-level work. Lauren got a pat on the head in the beginning but that was it. Guess what? It killed the show. Nobody wanted to continue to go to work every day and be ignored, passed over, marginalized because we were on a small network. Had the proper respect been paid to the show overall, to cast, then that show would have gone another three to five seasons – if not more. It’s not about the money. You have to understand that.
TWT: Have you ever considered writing a memoir?
Scott Patterson: Yes, and I have written a great deal about my experiences. Two of my influences are Robert Benchley and SJ Perelman. I love the comedic short story, and they are both masters – I took a shot with writing, and I was pretty good at it but as a career you must have that fire in the belly and I did in college but I knew I could not pay that price that all writers – at least of the nature I aspired to – must pay. It was a conscious choice. It does not mean that I didn’t love to write, I am a good writer, and I might have been great had I dedicated myself to it, but that kind of career, that kind of life – that is predestined.
Writing is something you do because you have to. It can be a choice, I suppose, but really it’s a need to survive. It’s oxygen. If you have to do it, if you are compelled to write on daily-basis, then you will do that. A lot of these great writers had to do it, and they had the need
to try to do it, and they couldn’t do anything else. I had options.
TWT: You write songs, so you do write.
Scott Patterson: Interesting you bring that up, I had to do that – with song-writing, the more you do it, and the more engaged you become, and the more time you spend sort of sitting by the riverbanks fishing for songs, which is effectively what it is, the better you get. It is like anything else, if you study the greats you improve. That was my writing, and I did a lot of that over the years in fits and starts. It was towards the end of Gilmore when I was disenchanted
with acting, and from saying other peoples’ lines. Acting is a discipline, and it is not meant to be done at that frequency because you only have so many performances in you, so you have to be careful what you choose. Acting is not meant to be done every day for years. That’s too much acting. I was feeling burned out, and I needed other creative outlets.
I started listening to Miles Davis more than I ever listened to him. He was a hero of mine when I was a kid. I picked up the guitar, and all of these songs came out, which led to a 26-
date tour in 2017. The audience was growing, and it was a nice experience, but I could not
figure out why I was not enjoying it as much as I should. It was because I missed my boy so much. It was the first week in August, and I was on the way to more gigs in more states, bookings were piling up… I told my assistant to cancel them all. That was it. I called my wife and ended the tour. I spent seven years on the road playing baseball professionally, but you can do that when you are young. I wasn’t going to knock around the world and get a record deal with a young son. I was not willing to do it, and then I created my coffee company.
TWT: It is great to end the interview talking about the two most important things to you, your family and your business.
Scott Patterson: I can do this from the office, and I can go home every night. This is the most important part of my life – my marriage, and my son. I put in long hours with the coffee, I work hard, but I don’t want to be a road dog. I love the weekend convention circuit because it’s a few days interaction with the marvelous fans, then back home.
That is the beautiful part about the coffee business – I can build this over time, and I can leave it to him. I want my son to get his Law Degree, or his MBA, and then he can run the company. I want to grow the company, and have it passed down to the next generation, and I want it to continue for years and years. We are still at the beginning stages of this thing, we are working hard, and I am very excited about it. We have a lot of interesting things coming down the pipeline.
Scott shared some additional thoughts about Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee, including the
biggest influence in his life, his mom.
Scott Patterson: My mom, Hope, was the biggest influence in my life, she introduced me to coffee. In my day, kids wanted to be older, and they wanted to grow up faster and act in mature ways. Kids wanted to be taken seriously, and they wanted to converse with adults. That was the mentality back then.
Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee really started as an homage to her, and to her strengths, and her work ethic. My mom was extraordinary, passionate, accepting, loving, and everything you could possibly want. She had extraordinary gifts. The Artemis, the Protector of the Vulnerable, is for my mom. When I was growing up our house was filled with kids and they were there to talk to her, and to be with her. She would cook for them, listen to their problems, and she would make them laugh. When she passed away, I received so many messages from people that I barely knew, and people I lost touch with – it was overwhelming. She had a big impact on a lot of people.
Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee is evolving as a company, as they make their way into the digital world. The subscription model they are starting is the virtual direction that the company is headed towards. Scott concluded the interview by saying that the company all goes back to his mom, “her drive, her toughness. that’s what it takes, and I think a lot of people that are gifted, capable and smart will fail because they don’t have the work ethic”. Scott’s mom drummed this into him at a very early age. He learned that if you are gifted in a certain area than you don’t get to take days off, and you even have to work twice as hard because you have this talent that you have to develop. He said that it is a responsibility.
This is the approach that Scott takes in his life, and it is what he does in the coffee business. Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee started nearly three years ago, and he is proud of what he has done, and he is excited about what’s to come.
Scott concluded the interview with these words about his mom, “I learned from the best, what can I tell you”.
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