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Ming Garden

Providence, Rhode Island, United States

One of the longest lived Chinese restaurants, the Ming Garden was vital to life in downtown Providence. Open from 1941 to 1986, the restaurant was located at 141-143 Westminster Street, which had entrances on Westminster Street as well as Kennedy Plaza (now #68 Kennedy Plaza). The building was 2 and a half stories tall and dates to the late 19th century.

During the 1950s, the Tows contracted a young architect named Morris Nathanson to modernize the restaurant’s interior. Mr. Nathanson was well known for hospitality design, and his portfolio includes The China Inn in Pawtucket and the Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Museum among others.

The Ming Garden (building constructed 1903): 3-story brick building with tiled modern entrance (similar entrance on Westminster Street side of building) and large plate-glass windows on upper stories; modern interiors by Morris Nathanson (ground floor) and Ira Rakatansky (upper floor). Though architecturally undistinguished outside, the building is heavily altered.

During the 1950s, Ming Garden touted a "Bamboo Room" sort of Pre-Tiki bar space on its outside signage. Later, this appears to have morphed into a "Polynesian Room" as tiki pop culture developed. Below, are photos showing the 1950's era version during hurricane Carol in 1954, when the waters of Narragansett Bay invaded the streets. Also shown are later shots of the front and rear exterior from the 1970s.

They did serve tropical cocktails in branded mugs -- at least one of which, a branded coconut, shows up from time to time.


Bar & Restaurant
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Yes (Permanently)


1 Tiki Mug