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Feb 6, 2010 09:40 AM

Seeking any info on old Chinese restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn

Hello, all! I'm wondering if anyone out there is old enough to remember a large Chinese restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn, probably from the 1930's to the 50's (and possibly earning a respectable portion of their income as a nightclub which may or may not have unofficially sponsored some gaming activity of marginal legality). The owner's name was commonly known as Tom Canton (possibly changed at Ellis Island?); I suppose his southern Chinese ancestry is a given. He figures in some family anecdotes an a photo or two, but I haven't got the name or the exact location of his restaurant, other than that it was in the area of the Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn, not far from places like Junior's and Gage and Tollner's...

Is this ringing a bell with any older readers?

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  1. Okay, before you start thinking that I'm that old or that my memory is that good, let me just mention my copy of "When Brooklyn Was the World: 1920-1957" by Elliot Willensky. On page 194 is a picture of the bar/restaurant called the "New Fulton Royal Chinese American Cocktail Lounge" at 429 Flatbush Ave (& Fulton St). That's my guess at what you're looking for.

    1. I asked my grandmother who spent a lot of time in Downtown Brooklyn when she was growing up. She confirms that it was "Fulton Royal." She remembers that it was popular for bridal showers. If it helps, she says that when the restaurant closed it became a women's clothing store and furrier called Russek's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Greg

        You're right Greg, it was upstairs across the street from Namm Loeser department store and since we were children at the time our first introduction to chinese fare was wonton soup and chow mein. Can still remember the flavor!

      2. Does anyone remember the piano player from this place?
        Mother and her sisters went there all the time. They say there was a poster advertising the band. the address was 429 Flatbush ave.....let me know if this helps

        1. When we were children this was a major outing for our family. At Christmas time my parents would take us shopping downtown and then we would go to the Chinese place that was upstairs. I don't know the name of it I was very young but I will ask on one of the old timer downtown Brooklyn groups I belong to.

          1. i know something about the fulton royal and its owner. HIs name was tom chin. he was a close companion of my widowed aunt whose husband was a business associate.i knew him well.he threw a 12th birthday party for me at his resstaurant/nightclub "china d'or" on broadway just off times square. that was 1953.
            he at one time owned 13 restaurants.his mother was still in china.he tried many times to get her out but the maoist gov refused.he sent protection money to china regularly.
            as i write this i am looking at a beautiful china dish he gave to my aunt.
            another aunt worked at the "notions" dept at namm's for decades.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jimbo72

              The gentleman my uncle knew was always referred to as Tom Canton, but it's quite possible that was a nickname, pseudonym, or just someone's error (my late father-in-law was from Toisan in Guangdong Province and the written variations on his name were amazing). Anyway, the gent in the attached photo was a friend of my uncle, too. Does that look familiar?