An artist who worked as a waitress at Colandrea New Corner has started a writing project to chronicle her experiences at the legendary Dyker Heights restaurant.
Vermont native Jillian Marshall, 33, came to New York after earning her PhD. She was working as an adjunct professor when she discovered New Corner.
“It was nine blocks from where I was living at the time and I was just blown away by this old-school local joint, and what was ultimately supposed to be just my side hustle ended up taking over my life in a way,” Marshall said. “I just found the co-workers there to be so interesting. Some of them worked there for over 25 years and the people that came into the restaurant were so interesting.”
Marshall realized the establishment featured a culture that doesn’t exist as strongly as it once did. During her time there, she talked with the customers and took mental notes before she left in January 2020.
“These projects are a love letter to south Brooklyn,” she said. “There were ups and down. My goal with the project is to be transparent. Everything is filled with love.”
The restaurant closed down last year due to financial struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“New Corner was such an important part of my New York socialization,” Marshall said. “What inspired me to start writing about it is just so interesting and I would love to not commemorate it, but just do something.”
Regular customers would often jokingly ask if she was going to write a book about them. The pandemic inspired Marshall to write about the importance of gathering in a beloved community restaurant.
“After New Corner closed, it had me thinking a lot about what restaurants are,” she said. “They’re places where a community gathers and places where we can have spontaneous human connections. I have endless stories. It has an 84-year-history.”
Marshall plans to write pieces about her New Corner experiences in magazines and newspapers.
“Customers were so open and that’s how I knew that it was the place for me to work,” she said. “It was so welcoming. I thought my coworkers were fascinating. They were just real people.”
Marshall has also written a book, “Liner Notes: Listening In/To Japan,” which will be released by Three Rooms Press early next year.