The Lobster Shift: Marvel edition

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Jessica Jones in the Court Square Diner.

Jessica Jones in the Court Square Diner.

The Lobster Shift is a monthly column by Kenneth R. Rosen that explores the city at night.

There is just one spot in the five boroughs suitable for a psycho-prism support group meeting and for hatching a plot to take on the Yakuza. That’s Court Square Diner in Long Island City.

Located near the former 5 Pointz graffit mecca, and the junction of 7, G, M and E trains, the diner is a mainstay in the modern noir universe of Marvel. It is the go-to haunt for Matt (Daredevil) and Jessica (Jessica Jones). Scenes from CBS’s Person of Interest and FOX’s Gotham were also filmed at the stand-alone diner, one of the last in New York City.

Tucked beneath the elevated 7 train, it beckons after-hours mischief with its neon signs and slick, aluminum train-car interior. Silhouette etchings of the Queensboro Bridge and the Silvercup Studio sign line the mirrored walls. Across the street, an adult viewing booth sits incongruously tucked between Vietnamese and Thai take-out restaurants, in a neighborhood with high-rise, high-rent condos.

Absent from this scene on a recent Monday night, but not unimaginable given the atmosphere: an orange and white smokestack puffing clouds of baleful steam, suffusing the street with mood.

You can see why location scouts love it. Photo: Court Square Diner

You can see why location scouts love it. Photo: Court Square Diner

Court Square Diner coddles the lonesome homesickness non-natives experience in New York, while offering a cinematic rendezvous site for Marvel characters and plain Jane TV detectives alike. The diner serves homey staples like jerk chicken sandwiches and tuna melts (on a recent day mine was meh, but that’s not why you’re here), hashed out with agreeable service. No one bothers you unless they sense you’re in need of human contact (or, a human mutate, or a confidential informant, or…). The utensils here are the utensils everywhere—stamped metal of utility.

Like Clark Kent needing to shed his spandex for some downtime, or Benson and Stabler needing to pull back from a case, it’s also a place where regulars can kick back, evidenced by a recent group studying the Mets game, back in the regular season, before the Cubs’ triumph. Sure, it’s regular diner talk, but it felt like regular diner talk in the background of a movie, just before the dirty cops threaten the squeaky clean rookie over coffee and pie.

“Oh god, the Yankees traded Ivan Nova,” one diner said to another.

“The second you left I was gonna tell you,” the waiter behind the counter chimed in.

“The reason they traded him,” another diner, dressed in a white collared shirt, said, “was he was a good ball player. Might as well get some money for ‘em.”

“Same thing they did with Miller.”

All three heads bowed, nodded.

“What did you order, Mac?” (I don’t think that was his name, but that’s the point. Everyone’s a familiarly anonymous Mac here.)

“Cheeseburger, deluxe. Whatever it was.”

When Mac finished his deluxe, he thanked the chef, ordered an espresso and a slice of cake.

Later:

“You gonna finish the cake?”

“Pshhh.”

“And you call yourself an Italian.”

I stuck around a while longer, perched against the counter, living in a comic world.

45-30 23rd St.
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 392-1222
Open 24/7
$

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