3. Garden Cafeteria, Lower East Side

Garden Cafeteria
Garden Cafeteria, Lower East Side, NYC 1977, Photo by Marcia Bricker Halperin

The Garden Cafeteria was a hotspot for Jewish intellectuals and writers at 165 East Broadway, on the corner of Rutgers Street. Established by Austrian immigrant Charles Metzger in 1941, the eatery has a storied history on the Lower East Side. Located next to the offices of The Forvertz/The Jewish Daily Forward, the cafeteria was frequented by the paper’s writers. Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer and photographer Bruce Davidson were among its patrons. Singer set his short story ”The Cabalist of East Broadway” at the Garden Cafeteria.

The cafeteria closed in 1983 and became a Chinese restaurant. When construction work in 2005 revealed one of the original signs, it was given to the Museum at Eldridge Street for safe keeping. The sign has appeared on display at the Museum and in an exhibit on The Jewish Daily Forward at Museum of the City of New York.