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Garden Cafeteria, A Place That Matters

The former Garden Cafeteria, at 165 East Broadway (corner of Rutgers), now Wing Shoon Restaurant.

The Garden Cafeteria, one of the storied places on the Lower East Side, earned some of its flair from proximity to The Forvertz/ (Jewish Daily) Forward newspaper. The Forward’s writers and poets — Isaac Bashevis Singer for one — regularly held court at the Garden. But it was also the eatery of choice for many circles aside from the Jewish intelligentsia. It was so beloved in its day (1941-1983) that many date it to an earlier period, placing Trotsky and others at the scene. True, the building has a longer history as a restaurant and hall-for-hire, which you can read about on the PlaceExplorer in a new profile about the Garden, contributed by Emma Jacobs.

Wing Shoon Seafood Restaurant moved in right after the Garden closed and has been there ever since. Like its predecessor, it inspires community devotion. “See those men there?” says the manager. “All taxi drivers. They used to come in with their babies. Now those babies are grown.”

  • The former Garden Cafeteria/Wing Shoon Restaurant is the subject of one of Place Matters’ new “place marking” signs on the Lower East Side. Your Guide to the Lower East Side includes 28 signs mounted on fences, poles, walls, and windows that tell the stories of past and present Lower East Siders. Go to the Place Matters website for info and locations.Join Place Matters and project cosponsor the LES Tenement Museum for a reception for Your Guide to the Lower East Side. Wed., Sept 19, 6-8pm at the museum visitor center at 108 Orchard (corner of Delancey). Take the F train to Delancey St.