24 January 2007

Curse of the Jade Restaurant

Jade Mountain, Manhattan's last classic Chop Suey joint, is dead.

Sorry to bring you this news. Perhaps it was fate that led me there last Tuesday night, I don't know. But after I posted about the visit, a kind reader wrote in to say he had been there soon after I had and had been told the place was closing down for good. The death of the owner, Reggie Chan, last September, was apparently too much for the family. (Scroll down below for the complete story.)

After I got that note I began calling Jade Mountain. An unanswered phone seemed to confirm that the place was closed. Finally, Tuesday afternoon, I got through. A woman answered. Asked if Jade Mountain was closing, she said "We haven't decided yet." She obviously didn't want to talk so I didn't keep her.

Tonight I swung by the place to investigate. From a distance of two blocks, things didn't look good. The classic "Chow Mein" neon sign, which had lit up so many lonely East Village nights, and attracted the admiring glances of nostalgists the city over, could not be seen. Coming closer, it was clear the restaurant was dark and shut tighter than a drum. The signs were off. No sign on the door. No notice of any kind. The front door, leading into the small vestibule, was strangely open, though the inside door was locked. On the counter inside near the cash register sat a lit memorial candle, to acknowledge Chan's death I should imagine.

I went the deli next door and asked him about Jade Mountain. "Closed for good," he confirmed. He insinuated that the sons of Reggie Chan didn't want to carry on the business, but knew little else. This is a sad day. With the Second Avenue Deli and Jade Mountain gone, Second Avenue hardly feels like Second Avenue anymore.

POSTSCRIPT (25 Jan. 2007): Thanks to the helpful staff at Eater.com (see "Links" to the right) for linking to this item and letting people know of this sad happening. I'm sure there are other Jade Mountain fans out there.


WLNY said...

Thanks for posting this. My partner and I are (were) die-hard Jade Mountain fans. Some of NY's best comfort food. This is truly the end on an era in NY history.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, I am so bummed. There goes the last good, old-fashioned chow mein that I know of in this whole dumb city. Progress sucks; I'm so sick of it.

Anonymous said...

Jade Mountain & the family will be missed and remembered. My deepest sympathies go to the Chan family. Reggie was a fun-spirited, kind man, who always had a ready hello, and a quick smile. I remember always feeling welcomed by him and his wife Sue. My husband and I were there weekly for the excellent food, great conversation and fine company. Truly great people are alway remembered fondly.

anne altman said...

man, that's too bad. i'm bummed I never visited. someone once told me (or i read) that jade mountain had rancid food, so avoided it and loved the sign from afar.


Anonymous said...

I've lived near Jade Mountain for over 25 years. What a privilege to have those neon signs nearby. (Wish I knew someone to call who would save them!)

Just thought folks might be interested to hear that, back in the 1930s when Bellevue Hospital had a nursing school, the nursing students used to go to Jade Mountain. My mother, who graduated in the Bellevue Nursing School class of 1939, fondly remembered the place from her student days.