Photo from warsze
Jade Mountain Chinese restaurant closed earlier this year, soon after the owner was killed while making a delivery. It had been on Second Avenue since 1931. Its CHOW MEIN sign was like a beacon on late nights when I walked home from above 14th Street. When I saw that pink neon, I knew I was almost there.
The Villager this week reported on Jade Mountain's "everything must go" sale. I stumbled across it today. There wasn't much left, a few boxes full of chipped teacups, an empty fishtank, a plaque awarding "Best Egg Foo Young in New York City" (not for sale). I asked if I could take pictures inside, but was told, "We want people to remember it like it was, not like it is, all in shambles." Fair enough. I did get to take home this souvenir book of matches:
For Bright Beacons, A Murky Future
By CASSI FELDMAN
The New York Times, May 13, 2007
For decades, they floated over Second Avenue near East 12th Street like twin stars guiding tipsy East Villagers home: ''Jade Mountain'' in glowing pink bamboo-style letters, and above it, in rosy neon, a smaller, two-sided sign bearing the words ''Chow Mein.''
But these days, the name of the old-school chop suey house is obscured by a giant ''For Lease'' poster. Jade Mountain closed in February, five months after Reginald Chan, its 60-year-old owner, was hit by a truck and killed while making a delivery on a bicycle. As Mr. Chan's family, which owns the building, looks for a new tenant, neighbors fear that the vintage neon signs, like the restaurant, will soon disappear.
Emily Rems, a 32-year-old magazine editor who lives on East 14th Street, is particularly fond of the Jade Mountain sign, and the buzzing sound it made when some of its letters started to dim. ''It just seems like it's been there forever and ever,'' she said the other day, ''and there's something comforting about that.''
The chow mein sign captivates Ed Cahill, a 46-year-old actor and filmmaker. ''It's like something off a Hollywood lot,'' Mr. Cahill said.
The restaurant, which opened in 1931, spoke to a bygone era, serving steaming plates of egg foo yong and moo goo gai pan until the day it closed. Last week, passers-by were still pressing their face to the glass as if willing it to reopen.
Mr. Chan's 25-year-old son, Nick, who lives above Jade Mountain, does not know the history of the signs or what will become of them once the space is leased. ''I don't know who would have room for something like that,'' he said.
But for Ms. Rems, who once kissed her boyfriend underneath the Jade Mountain sign, the image will always have a certain glow. ''I thought it would be lucky,'' she said. ''Now I'll have to do it one last time.''
Text Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company