The Moondance Diner at Tick Tick … Is Boom Real? Is it still open?

After the ecstatic success of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” playwright-songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda needs no introduction to die-hard Broadway musical fans. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s debut feature, the musical biopic ‘Tick, Tick… ​​Boom!’ is a poignant and moving tribute to Miranda’s spiritual mentor and acclaimed avant-garde artist Jonathan Larson. The story is based on Larson’s biographical rock monologue of the same name, and it follows the starving artist amid his relationship issues, financial woes, and creative struggles.

As he dawns in his thirties and a time when people are prone to disappearing, Larson is made to reflect on the vitalities and vanities of life. Concerned about an unfinished song he must write for his revolutionary dystopian opera “Superbia”, Jonathan is often distracted from life by its whimsical flights. Andrew Garfield gracefully plays the central role, and the lyrics of the song get the message home. Jonathan also has a day job as a waiter at Moondance Diner, and you may wonder if the place exists in real life. Well, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

The Moondance Diner at Tick Tick… ​​Boom Real? Is it still open?

Yes, the Moondance Diner in ‘Tick Tick… ​​Boom!’ is right. The scenario of ‘Tick Tick… ​​Boom!’ is written by Steven Levenson, who borrowed much of the story and original lyrics from Jonathan Larson’s experimental musical drama of the same name. Plus, as Larson’s father attests in the lineal notes of the cast recording, the story is largely autobiographical. According to the film, Jonathan’s agent asks him to write about his own life experiences following the polarized reception of “Superbia”.

Therefore, like other locations, experiences, and characters in the film, the Moondance Diner is also palpable. The culturally significant restaurant was tucked away on a corner between Grand Street and Canal Street in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Its precise location was 80 Sixth Avenue, in the heart of the bustling city. Founded in 1933, the cafe began its journey as the Holland Tunnel Diner. The free dinner is also a musical scene in the film.

In relation, you would be amazed to know that the diner, like many of its forerunners of this era, was built elsewhere and later brought to this location. After closing in 2007, the restaurant toured the American Diner Museum before moving to La Barge, Wyoming. Although in ruins at the time, it was fully restored in March 2008 and reopened in its new home. However, due to economic issues, the restaurant closed in 2012.

So, unfortunately, you can’t visit the iconic restaurant in the hopes of buying your cup of cinnamon coffee. In its former location in SoHo stands the James Hotel. This is the restaurant where Monica Geller worked on “Friends”, and the same cafe employed Mary Jane Watson in 2002 with “Spider-Man” star Kirsten Dunst. The legacy goes way back, however, as you can spot the joint in the music video for synth-rock giants A-ha from “You Are the One,” where the band members are seen walking into the restaurant. Therefore, although the diner no longer exists, one can hardly dispute its great importance in popular culture.

Read more: Tick Tick… ​​End of the boom, explained


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