Lam’s Garden will be closing around the end of April after 40 years of service in Athens.
Since September 1981, On Lam, the restaurant manager, and his siblings — Margaret Lam, Ping Lam and An Wei Lin — have served the Athens community at Lam’s Garden, located at 934 E. State St. As most of the owners have grown past the age of retirement, they decided working 14-hour days was no longer a viable option for them.
“Everyone thought 40 years is enough time spent in one place,” On Lam said in an email. “We made that decision about 4 weeks ago.”
The closure is not related to the struggles of COVID-19. Lam’s Garden was able to stay open throughout the pandemic and even saw a business increase of 30% in 2020 in comparison to the previous year, On Lam said.
“The Athens community has already shown tremendous (support) for my family and the business,” On Lam said in an email. “We would (have) never lasted this long without their help.”
In response, the customers of Lam’s Garden have turned to the business’ Facebook page to thank the Lam family for their service to the Athens community and share their memories of the restaurant.
Bailey Gensley was a waitress at Lam’s Garden from 2011 to 2015 and has many fond memories of the staff from her time there.
“Margaret and Ping would make very intricate origami swans and flowers. They made me a swan and bouquet of flowers that I still have now,” Gensley said in an email. “They gifted these to me when I left my job there for my first post-college job … They are all such wonderful people.”
Kerri Sterowski grew up 30 minutes away from Lam’s Garden in Pomeroy. Her family and friends would consistently drive to Athens for food at the restaurant.
“My family and I would travel to Athens and eat at Lam’s for all occasions! Birthday? Go to Lam’s…Break up? Go to Lam’s,” Sterowski said in an email. “A place I knew everyone would be happy and full, but mostly happy.”
Justin McBride, a current Athens resident, remembers taking his family to Lam’s Garden over the years and the kindness of the staff.
“It was the first restaurant my wife and I ate at when we were dating, I enjoyed taking my 13 year old daughter Lilli there for her birthday every November,” McBride said in an email. “When I was a child they offered me non-menu child-friendly items like Burgers and Fries as to make my parents visit more pleasurable. As an adult Margaret would sit with my family and help feed the babies their bottles so that we could enjoy our meals.”
The Lam family plans to stay in Athens and will be taking things day by day as they adjust to life without Lam’s Garden.
“I know it’s … heartbreaking for many in the community seeing us close. I had many customers that would call and order from us the same day of the week every week for more than 10+ years,” On Lam said in an email. “We had seen many generations came in when they were babies and watch them grew up and then bring their grandchildren to the restaurant. We will miss them too.”