The Lichee Garden Restaurant
A Brief Introduction
The original Lichee Garden, owned by Ken Fong, opened on 118 Elizabeth Street in 1948. Lichee Garden was a family-owned and operated establishment that served a mix of both traditional Chinese food and “American-style” Chinese foods. The Lichee Garden became one of the most popular and well-known Chinese restaurants in Toronto, and was renowned for some of its dishes including egg rolls (said to be the best in Toronto) and their honey-garlic ribs. The original Lichee Garden became an icon of Old Chinatown, and to this day is still remembered fondly by the older generations of patrons who would enjoy the delicious food and pleasant atmosphere.
- Original Lichee Garden restaurant on 118 Elizabeth Street in Toronto, Ontario
- Taken in April 1952
- One of the earliest known photos of the original Lichee Garden
Postcard from Lichee Garden restaurant c. 1952
A matchbook box from the original Lichee Garden on Elizabeth Street featuring original signage and colour scheme c. 1952
Inside the Restaurant
Inside the Lichee Garden on Elizabeth Street, showing the dining rooms/entrance hall
Taken very early 1960’s just before expropriation
Elizabeth Street/Old Chinatown – c. 1960s
Post-City Hall Construction
Upon the construction of City Hall and the destruction of Elizabeth Street, Lichee Garden moved to multiple locations across the city, including Atrium on the Bay (Downtown), Avenue Road and Eglinton (North York), and Centre Street (Thornhill). Unfortunately, however, the constant movement of the establishment put a damper on the restaurant’s overall atmosphere/food selection, although the patrons followed it loyally around the city. Ken Fong himself even opened a restaurant under his own name in Forest Hill, which closed in 2010 when he finally retired from the restaurant business. Needless to say, the original Elizabeth Street location was the favorite and definitely the most popular.
The New Location
After the original Elizabeth Street location was lost to new City Hall’s construction, Lichee Garden moved to 595 Bay Street (Atrium on the Bay) near Yonge and Dundas. They also tried to update their restaurant’s overall image – changing around the signage and the décor inside the restaurant to try and attract new customers and create a new face for Lichee Garden
The Second Location
A matchbook box from the new Lichee Garden on Bay, with updated sign colours and slightly different signage c. 1964
Inside the Second Restaurant Location
Lichee Garden at its new location on 595 Bay Street c. 1975
Updated signage again, more modern looking Lichee Garden c. 1978
Lichee Garden moved around quite a bit after its initial move from 118 Elizabeth Street, which had a lasting effect on its customer and over “feel”. Lichee Garden’s final resting spot was said to be in Thornhill, but sadly it has been sitting with its doors locked for years. Ken Fong closed his restaurant under his name in 2010, and announced that he was finally retiring from the restaurant industry. Gone but not forgotten, the Lichee Garden will always exist in memories full of delicious food, pleasing atmosphere, and wonderful company.
I am a 2nd year English Major student attending Ryerson University. I’ve enjoyed writing and researching since I was young, and this project was a great opportunity to enhance and further hone my skills. This exhibit/research project was an opportunity to explore an area that was previously unknown to me, and I hope that you will enjoy the material I have presented to you in this exhibit. When not in school, I enjoy spending my days with my family and friends, as well as my lovely pet dog Morleigh, and my three snakes. I also enjoys getting away to my cottage whenever possible, and taking long sunset walks on the beach. I currently resides in my hometown of Toronto, proudly born and raised, with my parents and siblings.
Elizabeth Street in the 1960s. Comp. John Chuckman. Photograph. Chuckman’s Other Collection. WordPress, 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 July 2015.
Lichee Garden at 595 Bay Street location in 1975. Comp. John Chuckman. Photograph. Chuckman’s Other Collection. WordPress, 11 Aug. 2006. Web. 16 July 2015.
Lichee Garden matchbox from 1952. Comp. John Chuckman. Photograph. Chuckman’s Photos on WordPress. WordPress, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 July 2015.
Lichee Garden matchbox from 1964. Comp. John Chuckman. Photograph. Chuckman’s Photos on WordPress. WordPress, 28 June 2014. Web. 16 July 2015.
Lichee Garden restaurant postcard from 1952. Comp. John Chuckman. Photograph. Chuckman’s Photos on WordPress. WordPress, 12 July 2010. Web. 16 July 2015.
Lichee Garden restaurant postcard from the early 1960s. Comp. John Chuckman. Photograph. Chuckman’s Photos on WordPress. WordPress, 25 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 July 2015.
Original Lichee Garden restaurant. 1952. Big Bear Wrestling. Blogspot, 21 Dec. 2013. Web. 16 July 2015.
Wilson, Robb. “Lichee Garden.” Comp. Debbie. 1979. Photograph. Flickr. 7 Apr. 2010. Web. 16 July 2015.
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