THE PAST COMES ALIVE UNDER AN OLD SIGN ON BROADWAY

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The Town Shop put up a new sign this week at their new store at 2270 Broadway (between 81st and 82nd). As the workers were getting ready to hoist the new letters, they peeled away the layers of the signs underneath, and found some names that will be familiar to people who have lived here awhile. The new Town Shop took up part of Laytner’s Linens, and there were once several businesses where it stands now.

Among them are some famous spots: Steinberg’s Dairy Restaurant, for instance, was once located at the spot, as you can see in the sign above. Steinberg’s had a menu (posted below and available here on the public library website) that would be familiar to anyone who is a Jewish grandparent or who has Jewish grandparents or who simply likes Jewish food. It was filled with herring, salmon, chopped liver, cabbage soup, omelettes and more. Talk about the kind of stuff you can’t get anymore! “Stuffed Hungarian Cabbage a La Mode with a Potato Pancake.” That delicacy cost all of 50 cents, by the way.

A website called Hungry Gerald reminisced that Steinberg’s had “very good herring.” Walter Mathau was also a frequent customer, as was Isaac Bashevis Singer, and the restaurant was even mentioned in Saul Bellow’s Herzog. The Museum of the City of New York has a photo of the interior. It opened in 1931, according to this New York Times article, but it’s not clear when it closed.

Other signs uncovered this week by the Town Shop workers are written in Chinese — it appears that there was a Chinese laundry next to Steinberg’s, according to this article in the New York Times (the article is about a man named Brian Gari who has chronicled a lot of Upper West Side history; if anyone knows Brian, tell him we’d like to chat). “North of Steinberg’s stood Yee’s Hand Laundry, a stationery shop, an unidentified store with prices in the window and a pizza place. These last two would be occupied from the mid-1970’s to the early 1990’s by Marvin Gardens, a popular restaurant.” Danny Koch, the owner of Town Shop, told us that there were once two Chinese restaurants there too. Koch said Marvin Gardens “was a great Upper West Side hangout for many years.”

If anyone has any other insight into what stood at this site, please let us know. This stuff is fascinating. Thanks to Anna Rulnick for the photos.

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Click on the Steinberg’s menu below to enlarge:
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FOOD, HISTORY, NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Scott B says:

      Great menu! Only 10C for a “Glass of Sour Milk(curdled. Make mine a double!

    2. webot says:

      Wow that is awesome.

      Anyone remember Ellman’s Tea Room?

    3. Brian S says:

      When I was a kid in the early 1980s, I believe all the stores from the center of the block to the 82nd St corner were restaurants, except for the corner store which was a bridal shop (R&K Bridal I think it was called?). I believe Marvin Gardens was next to the bridal shop. My parents who moved to the UWS in the early 1970s always said Marvin Gardens was one of the first few non-Chinese restaurant options on Broadway and in the neighborhood in the W 80s and low W 90s in the 1970s. They served burgers, sandwiches, salads. West of Marvin Gardens was a wonderful restaurant called The Front Porch, known for their FABULOUS homemade soups. They used to make 3 unique amazingly delicious homemade soups daily, the soup menu changed every day, and they’d serve them to you in little dark blue ceramic tasting cups before you’d place your order. It was a relatively narrow but very deep space. Odd layout with the kitchen running most of the length of the store, with a narrow seating area running parallel to it. And next to Front Porch was a Chinese restaurant, I think it may have been called Hunan Balcony.
      P.S. — I’m not the Brian referenced in the above post. 🙂

      • Nancy says:

        Does anyone reminder C & L — it was in the mid-block space now occupied by Fairway It was betw the old Fairway, Gristides and Citerella. The world’s best chicken in the pot….

        Nancy

      • Cato says:

        Not sure, but I think the Chinese restaurant next to Front Porch was the original Flor de Mayo, now on Amsterdam 82-83 (and Bway at 100th or so). “Cuban” Chinese, as we used to call them (there were quite a few in the neighborhood).

        And don’t forget, on the same block (and south of the others mentioned) was the Hungarian Rendezvous, one of the few places you could go in the nabe for just dessert and coffee.

        And Avi, Steinberg’s *Dairy* Restaurant had *vegetarian* chopped liver, not the real stuff. Wouldn’t have been a dairy restaurant if they offered the true delight!

    4. Judy says:

      What a great story, thank you!

    5. Ken says:

      LOL, Steinberg’s menu prices in cents could today just as easily be dollars at a three star Michelin restaurant.

    6. lyla ward says:

      I don’tthink you mentioned this was a dairy restaurant..the stuffed cabbage was vegetarian..I neve tasted that, but the blintzes were delcious.

    7. Ellen Frankel says:

      Marvin Gardens was one of the first truly integrated restaurant/night spot on the Upper West Side. It was always busy and the crowd all knew each other and conversations flowed. The food was good and reasonable and, if I remember correctly, there was great current music in the background. My husband and our friends went there often for an evening.

    8. Jean says:

      I know Brian and I contacted him.

    9. Brian Gari says:

      thanks for the mention! sure you can contact me!

    10. stern says:

      There was also a very good butcher shop about 2 stores in from the corner of 82nd st. long after Steinbergs closed. Can’t remember if it was before or after Marvin Gardens.

      bought my trousseau items at the Town Shop 59 years ago.

    11. s76fitz says:

      THE FRONT PORCH .

      HUNAN TASTE .

      MARVIN GARDENS .

      OTTOMANELLI .

    12. Steve says:

      Who could forget Teachers and Teachers Too across the street?

    13. Lori Gladstone says:

      What was the name of the bar that was across the street from teachers where they used to dance on the bar?

      • christina says:

        @ Lori… Bamboo Bernies

        • P Mo says:

          Oh Bamboo Bernie’s!! What a great little dive bar that was in its day. And by little I mean it was small and narrow like a wide hallway with a bar along one wall. Fish bowl drinks and great times 🙂

          • john pressman says:

            There is a great photo I posted in Facebook from the TV shoe “Naked City; episode “Alive and Still a Second Lieutenant” that shows that stretch of the east side ofBroadway between 81st and 82nd streets.