Devoted 'Sopranos' fans won't let show go

The phone is ringing off the hook at Holsten's, with fans wanting to reserve the booth where Tony Soprano, his wife, Edie, and son, Anthony Jr., ate onion rings in the 'The Sopranos' finale.

WILL HART

NEWARK, N.J. - Fade to black? Not a chance for fans of 'The Sopranos.'

Almost two weeks after the series finale, the addiction to the show seems stronger than ever, with legions of fans making a journey to New Jersey to see real-life remnants of the hit TV mob drama.

For many, their obsession starts at the place where the series ended. Business is booming at the diner where lead character Tony Soprano sat with his family in the controversial series finale.

Fans not only want to eat at Holsten's (actually an ice cream parlor in Bloomfield), they want to sit in the same booth where Tony, the fictional Jersey mob boss, played the Journey song 'Don't Stop Believin'.'

'The phone rings all day from people wanting to make reservations,' said co-owner Chris Carley. 'They ask, 'Can we reserve the booth? Can we get a T-shirt?'?'

Carley, who watched the final scenes filmed there over two days, fields calls from fans wanting to talk about the ending. Customers who want to relive Tony's

meal can buy some of the onion rings he raved about (for $2.50), but they cannot listen to the jukebox, which was a prop for the show.

'It's just so funny that people want to sit in that booth,' Carley said. 'A lot of people are taking pictures.'

The Emmy-winning HBO show explored the life of the fictional mob boss and his family, and scores of scenes have been shot across the Garden State since the show debuted in 1999.

The series' buzz-inducing final scene ended abruptly with the screen going black as Tony and his family sit down to dinner at Holsten's, leaving fans guessing about what happens next.

Some fans are flocking to a 'Sopranos'-themed bus tour. With 47 sites, it's one way fans can still connect with the show. The cost is $42 per person, which includes a cannoli (a nod to 'The Godfather'). Afternoon tours for the next two weekends already are sold out.

The tour begins in Midtown Manhattan and heads through the Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey (the start of Tony's journey in the opening credits). Fans see the fictional Satriale's pork store in Kearny and the diner under the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City where Tony's nephew, Christopher, got shot.

For many the highlight is Satin Dolls, a strip club that fronts for the 'Bada Bing' in Lodi.