Cantonese-style dishes from Peking Garden in St. Paul, Jan. 26, 2019.
PUBLISHED: March 12, 2021 at 4:38 p.m. | UPDATED: March 14, 2021 at 1:39 p.m.
After almost a year of being closed, Peking Garden is re-emerging in a relocated spot in St. Paul.
But the new digs won’t be too far from the old place — about 2½ miles east on University Avenue, just past Dale Street at Western Avenue in the heart of the Little Mekong district.
Owner Mary Lau said the restaurant will reopen March 18. At first, takeout and delivery services will be offered. Eventually, after final touch-ups to the space are complete and some remaining kitchen equipment is acquired, the restaurant will open for dine-in, possibly by the beginning of April. Lau said the menu will be the same — meaning Cantonese-style dishes — as when the restaurant was at Midway Shopping Center in St. Paul.
“I’m very excited,” Lau said. “I miss everything about the restaurant so much.”
As far as whether dim sum will be resurrected like when the spot was in Minneapolis and drew lines out the door (the most recent space just didn’t have the layout for dim sum carts), Lau said she’s not ruling out that possibility. But first things first. For now, she just wants to get the restaurant up and running.
Peking Garden is moving into the former Tapestry restaurant space, which offered dim sum along with Asian-fusion fare. Tapestry closed last spring amid the pandemic and ultimately did not reopen.
“Last month we announced the difficult decision to close the Tapestry Restaurant permanently. This was not an easy decision to make,” Dr. Mai Moua, interim COO of Hmong American Partnership, which owns the building, said in a statement. “COVID-19 has fundamentally changed key elements of our day-to-day operations and the way we think about our organization to be able to prevail in these challenging times. Though we are saddened by this decision, we are pleased that Peking Garden, a local family restaurant that has been serving the Twin Cities community since (the early 1990s), has agreed to open its doors where the Tapestry Restaurant was, by leasing the space.”
Before Tapestry, the spot was home to the Vietnamese restaurant Mai Village.
This is Peking Garden’s third location in its 29-year history. But one thing has remained the same — a street address on University Avenue. The original location operated from 1992 to 2006 on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus before having to relocate for the development of TCF Bank Stadium. After that, the family-run restaurant moved to Midway Shopping Center on University Avenue near Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.
Recently, the family found themselves needing to relocate the restaurant again. The restaurant had temporarily closed starting in mid-March of last year because of the pandemic. Then, amid unrest following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, the restaurant was heavily damaged as were other nearby businesses. In the aftermath, the landlord notified tenants at Midway Shopping Center that leases would be terminated because of extensive damage.
Last summer, a GoFundMe campaign for Peking Garden was launched, helping the family get the restaurant back on its feet. In addition to the funding campaign, Lau said, the community has shown support in so many ways. That’s part of the reason it was important for her to stay in St. Paul.
“We have been out there trying so hard to find a place suitable for us,” Lau said. “We’ve had so many people ask how they can help and support us. It’s been great. We wanted to come back where the community is. We’ve been in St. Paul since 2006. It’s our home and we want to rebuild here.”
Peking Garden: 394 University Ave. W., St. Paul; pekinggardenmn.com