Mars 2112 was a science fiction restaurant and tourist trap in New York City. Few mourned it when it closed in 2012, a hundred years before its time. It was like being in a Rainforest Cafe, only with aliens, craters and a space flight simulation trip where space travelers were dropped off at the hostess’s booth. Guests dined in the three-story crystal crater adorned with neon lights and bubbling lava pools. Martians by name and backstory mingled between the tables to snap photos and chat. Having only been there once when I was 18 I can tell it was sticky. It was overpriced. It was basically a space version of Applebee. And damn it, I miss it. I miss everything.
We have been in the pandemic for over a year. I am trapped in my house with my wife and children. I’m bored. I am depressed. And I dream of partying with Martians. I want to chug sugary space cocktails in the Star Bar. I want to play in the futuristic Cyber Street arcade. When the waiter asks me if I would like to try the Sub Space Sampler, the answer is not simply yes. I open my mouth like a foghorn and let out a high-pitched woot – damn it – and take the nebula chili nachos too. Load it up with extra chilli. I don’t even eat meat. I just wanna have fun
The 33,000 square meter space was the largest themed restaurant of its kind when it opened in 1998. Mars 2112 was founded by Irish businessman and former meat mogul Paschal Phelan, who had a vision that the restaurant would be more of an event than an experience: “The amalgamation of fun and good food and fantasy,” he said New York Times for a story that ran in 1998. Tourists stepped from the streets of Times Square onto an international space station, where they were issued visas from the Mars Federation, before being driven on one of the two 30-seater simulation drives. The three-minute program blasted the drivers over the Chrysler Building, out of the atmosphere and through a “moonworm hole” to Mars.
We can thank Daroff Design for this masterpiece.
Please, dear god, bring it back. This is my only prayer in 2021.
At its height, Bill Clinton and his niece celebrated on Mars in 2112. So did Brad Pitt and Maddox. It was a god-level place for a birthday party. It was a place for awkward first dates in the hopes that ordering the Magellan Mozz Sticks might break the ice. And it was a great place for mothers to take in their embarrassed teenage daughters in 1999.
My mother, born and raised in the suburbs of Baltimore, only made it to New York City once in her life. She planned the weekend getaway, dragged me and my sister around town with that powerful Mom Energy and ignored our youthful frowns. She insisted on the “NYC Tourist Experience” as we snorted it through Central Park and toured the Statue of Liberty. We saw Rent on Broadway. We woke up at an ungodly hour to stand in the Today Show square, where my mother was trying to get Al Roker’s attention with a neon sign. She had studied the show and spent weeks developing an attention-grabbing method. My sister and I were trained – perhaps threatened – to smile and wave like madmen when Al approached. It didn’t, but there’s a quick, blurry take on the VHS tape at home that proves she tried.