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.