For 36 years, Julie Gaines has run Fishs Eddy, the dishware store at East 19th Street and Broadway near Union Square. The shop is named for a hamlet in upstate New York.

It all started in the 1980s when Gaines discovered a treasure trove of commercial China and restaurant ware while digging around sub-basements of restaurant supply stores on the Bowery.

Upstairs from the retail space is a place not as many people get to see — Gaines’ personal collection of dishes, cups, saucers and butter pats from restaurants, corporate dining rooms and institutions.

What You Need To Know

  • Fishs Eddy is a home goods and dishware store located at East 19th Street and Broadway near Union Square that first opened in 1986

  • Above the store is a secret museum of dishware and restaurant ware dating back decades

  • The items were made by American companies for restaurants, corporate dining rooms and institutions

“When we found it in sub-basements in the Bowery nobody wanted it, it was sitting there for 75 years, so these are all pieces of historical significance,” said Gaines, who noted the items are all made by American companies that no longer exist.

They feature logos from well known New York spots that still exist and others that don’t, such as Juniors, Tavern on the Green, The Plaza, and even White Castle.  

“This is a slice of American history. You know what this is, this is marketing at its earliest stages, this is how businesses differentiated themselves,” said Gaines.

Gaines, who grew up on Staten Island, said the mini-museum gives folks a chance to see how the store got started.

She said she hopes these items will be in a bigger museum someday, but for now she is happy to show people around if they request it.

“When people are digging around and asking a lot of questions, I’ll say, it puts everything downstairs in context,” Gaines said.