We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Temple Garden. For years, this fine establishment has been a bastion of culinary excellence for the Temple community. Its loyal customers know well its reputation for excellent customer service, convenience and a menu filled with edibles that could only be rivaled by the other 15 or so nearly identical Chinese restaurants within walking distance.
I, personally, can speak to many of Temple Garden’s virtues.
Back in February 2010 a blizzard ravaged Main Campus, leaving classes closed for two days and freshman — like myself — stranded and experiencing withdrawals from a lack of grease in their systems. Who was there during this time of need? Let me get to that.
In these desperate times, a young protagonist — me — dared to believe that Temple Garden could come through and deliver delicious foodstuffs. I called and, sure enough, was told that it would be but a mere 30 minutes until they showed up in the lobby of the residence hall like some sort of knight in the shiniest of armor. I placed an order for three freshman with rumbling stomachs desperate for nourishment.
Two hours later, we had called four more times and repeatedly been assured that the food was on its way. But this hunger had induced desperation, so I suited up in my thickest jacket, hat and gloves and proceeded to plod my way forward. I arrived at the restaurant and heroically announced my presence. After engaging in a short dialogue with the cashier, a car pulled up and I was delivered my food while actually inside the facility. Plus he didn’t ask for a tip. Now that’s service.
I learned a lot about myself that day. Namely that I despise the cold. But pushing you into self-discovery was one of Temple Garden’s great hidden characteristics. Even the most typical order demanded you to ask important questions about yourself like: “Are you really that desperate?” and “Is this what chicken tastes like?”
Temple Garden sometimes threw customers off with its inherent quirkiness. If you weren’t prepared, you might even have mistaken this individuality for incompetence.
For instance, one time I engaged in a five-minute argument with the woman who answered the phone because she refused to believe that my area code was 609. Luckily my phone was broken at the time and only worked on speakerphone, because I never would have believed that this actually happened had I not had two witnesses there to testify that it was not some sort of dream.
This is just another element to the joy of Temple Garden. No matter who you were or why you were calling, the workers wanted you to have a unique experience ordering from them. Who else had the foresight to turn ordering dinner into such an adventure?
And let’s not forget about the food. As its sign so boastfully read, it served both Chinese and American cuisine. I never had the nerve to inquire about the American delicacies, but I assume that those items maintained the same high standards as the rest of the restaurant’s fine menu.
And what a fine menu it was. Did you try those crabmeat wontons? They were almost always edible. Plus Temple Garden had the audacity to not use spaghetti noodles for its lo mein, unlike other restaurants I could name. I always found this important, because if I’m ordering Chinese food at 2 a.m., I want the people on the other side of the phone to hold the same high standards that I clearly have in mind.
A key to Temple Garden’s delicious food was undoubtedly its relaxed, family-friendly environment. One time, when I dared to visit in person, I was greeted at the door by a child, no older than four, running in and out of the kitchen area. Upon peering in, I also noticed an infant bouncing in some sort of contraption.
By allowing its fine chefs to bring their kids to work, Temple Garden kept its cooks stress-free and fully engaged with their job of providing top-notch food to the Temple community.
These are but a small sampling of the anecdotes and stories available about an establishment that truly — and literally — touched the hearts and stomachs of many Temple students. If you would like to share your stories, the reception will be at Temple Star. The food there is better anyway.
Zack Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ZackScott11.