While the theater community (and Midtown at large) may mourn the Starlite Deli’s closure, there’s a morsel of good news for Broadway foodies — longstanding family-owned health food cafe Green Symphony has reopened.
The W43rd Street stalwart was originally opened in 2003 by Jay Shim, and had remained closed since 2020 and Shim’s death. His son, Kyle, who had helped at the deli over the years, is now taking up the mantle of keeping his father’s Midtown legacy alive.
Kyle’s memories of Green Symphony stretch back to 8th grade, when “the New York Times building was right next door” and people would refer to the deli as “a hole in the wall back in the day,” he told W42ST. Tucked in between the historic Times Square Hotel building (now a Common Ground residence) and a psychic, the unassuming deli “caught traction through the course of the years,” said Kyle. Although his father shied away from traditional marketing, he knew how to turn a dramatic moment into an opportunity – as this New York Times article about the 2003 Blackout demonstrates. Green Symphony became a Theater District household name through straight word of mouth, Kyle added, “One customer at a time, he built relationships. We ended up with a bit of a cult-like following, where we’d see customers every day. It’s been a pretty good run.”
Kyle recalled regulars lining up for the twice-weekly fresh salmon, a health food novelty in the early 2000s. He also remembered streams of industry insiders who quickly came to consider Green Symphony their mandatory between-show stop. “We’ve had a lot of actors, producers and stage crew from the theaters that we knew by name,” said Kyle. “We’ve had a few celebrities come by too — I remember a while back that Daniel Craig used to come and order food from us,” he added. “I tried to treat them like regulars. I guess I got pretty immune to being starstruck.”
Health-conscious performers made a beeline to Green Symphony, one of the first wellness-focused delis in the area. “We always try to innovate and experiment on some funky stuff. I remember my dad used to serve shots of Oregano oil to actors who wanted to cleanse their sinuses,” he laughed. “I can’t say it cures anything but they found it helpful!” He’d also get to see their work over the years: “I’ve seen lots of shows. I remember during Spider-Man, I used to get comp tickets from the customers — they would come in at the last minute and say, ‘Hey, I got a couple tickets — you want to go see the show?’ And then I would see some of the customers onstage and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I know that guy!’”
Some things have changed since their reopening — for example, the self-serve buffet is now staffed, “Chipotle-style”, said Kyle, but the popular salmon is back, along with newly rotating items. He added. “My dad used to say, ‘people have one tongue — we can’t be serving the same stuff every day.’ So we try to switch it up here and there.”
Kyle is also happy to see his neighborhood regulars: “I feel like the area is coming back stronger than ever,” and he’s happy to be back in the midst of the action. “It’s such a diverse area, where you meet all sorts of people and everyone’s friendly and we’re all just trying to be positive. And it’s just so good to see theater business back and bustling.”
One key element is still missing, however, and reopening has been bittersweet, for Kyle. “It’s very welcoming to see a lot of old faces and people coming saying ‘Oh my gosh, you’re back!’ But, you know, it’s not the same without my dad,” he said, “He had that energy. I had some customers say ‘If you’re half the man he was, you’ll be fine.’”
“I shadowed my dad for all these years,” said Kyle, “I feel like I took for granted certain life lessons that he would teach me.” But as he prepares to steward Green Symphony into its next era, Kyle is ready to try. “It’s not going to be easy, but I’m positive we can do it. I want to build relationships with the neighborhood one customer at a time and provide the best service.”
Green Symphony is located at 255 W43rd Street (between Broadway and 8th Ave), open 7:45am to 8pm Monday through Saturday, 10am to 6:30pm Sunday.