What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. A funky coffee
bar in the middle of a marina.
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. At Dexter's "Coral Cove" marina, in Miami.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. In Episode 5 (Season 2), "The Dark Defender".
An opening shot shows a marina at sunrise.
Next, we see Dexter standing in line inside an eccentric-looking diner / coffee bar. He notes that someone is reading a newspaper with a headline asking: "Bay Harbor Butcher - Friend or Foe?", and then hears two diners talking about it, with one saying the victims "had it coming".
He pays the bill of the woman in front of him (who is juggling a baby while trying to find her purse).
Next, we see him walking out to a table on an outdoor patio, where Debra is waiting for him. They enjoy the coffee, while they discuss the case.
Debra surprises Dexter by saying that, given the chance, she would put a bullet in the head of the Bay Harbor Butcher.
gets a cell phone call, and has to run.
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. An unusual
restaurant in the center of an unusual marina.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. I thought I was pretty familiar with the Long Beach coastline and its various marinas, but to tell the truth, I never even knew that this place existed until I had to track it down for this particular scene location.
Of course, technically, it's not even Long Beach, it's Wilmington - so perhaps that lets me off the hook. ;)
The scene was filmed at a somewhat seedy little marina called Leeward Bay Marina, at 611 N. Henry Ford Avenue, just north of Terminal Island.
You'll find it just west of the Henry Ford bridge, where the Dominguez Channel passes under Henry Ford Avenue. In fact, from aerial maps, it appears that the marina is actually in the Dominguez Channel, just SW of the intersection of E. Anaheim Street and Henry Ford Ave.
While most marinas tend to be in upscale areas, working-class Leeward is lost in an isolated, industrial area on the Long Beach/Wilmington border. The boats it houses tend to be older ones, often with live-aboard owners. The waters around it are reportedly badly polluted, with residents joking about the marina being "where the sewer meets the sea". Railroad trains hauling freight chug by on the nearby trestle/bridge, and next door are storage yards and mammoth cranes.
The restaurant at its center is a local landmark of sorts, a floating, tilting diner, known as "The Chowder Barge", which has been moored at this marina since the late '60s. It's a gritty, colorful place, where (according to one L.A. Times report), you can get "a corn dog, a tasty slice of pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee for $4.80." It's a place where the restrooms are marked “Inboards” and “Outboards.”
The original barge that now houses the Chowder Barge was reportedly built in 1934 as an on-location commissary during the filming of the movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" (starring Clark Gable & Charles Laughton). Over the years, it has reportedly been, and I quote, "a floating brothel, a houseboat, a machine shop, an art studio and an abandoned hulk". Since 1967, it's been run by a lady named "Miss Mary", a temperamental sort who serves as waitress, cook, clerk & cashier.
The patio where Dexter and Debra have coffee is located at the top of a ramp just northeast of (and leading up from) the Chowder Barge.
( Another scene (in the same episode) was shot here: the scene where Lundy takes off his shoes & socks on the dock. )
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. As I mentioned above, I had no idea that this marina even existed, let alone the diner.
But fortunately, the scene on the show included a very clear shot of the distinctive Henry Ford bridge (which leads from mainland Long Beach to Terminal Island), and I've seen that bridge many times before in other movie scenes (such as "Transformers", "To Live & Die in L.A." and "The Fast & the Furious". Film-makers tend to like the Terminal Island area when they're looking for rough, industrial locations
So, I used
Live Local maps to take a closer look at the waters around the bridge,
and sure enough, there was the marina. The next step was to determine what its name
was, and find out more about the restaurant there. A little Googling turned
up the facts I needed, especially this
very detailed article in the L.A. Times about the marina and
its Barge .
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