Director of marketing and communications Tom Fervoy has been in Hell’s Kitchen since the 1980s, when he was a regular on All My Children. Tom’s West Side Story includes an encounter with Whitney Houston…
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I’m a first generation New Yorker who moved to Hell’s Kitchen right out of college in late summer of 1984 — on a summer-stock friend’s fold-out futon on W47th between 8th and 9th Avenues.
I am originally a third generation product of “invention city” Racine, Wisconsin, aka “the Belle City of the Great Lakes.” All of our forebears were peasants until they immigrated here through Ellis Island on their way to the factories of South East WI for a shot at a better life than they could envision while working other people’s land in Italy, Holland and Germany in the 19th Century. This city of New York, this neighborhood Hell’s Kitchen, this nation America, are full-to-the-brim with people and products of parents before them who took a big leap to come here. People who either visualized something better or were escaping oppressive regimes or were forced here in slavery or servitude. To survive, let alone thrive, after any of those scenarios is very brave, regardless of country, creed, color or culture of origin.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job on landing in Hell’s Kitchen in ’84 was a gig on All My Children as Tim — fellow student of Tad, Hillary, Bobby, Dottie, Alfred, the ‘hot’ soap opera story at the time. My character was directing that crew of characters in a school production of Romeo and Juliet on the show. I was right out of drama school at the University of Washington and had just done the “League Showcase” which took place across the street from ABC studio over at Juilliard for graduating groups of drama school products like me and my classmates. My contemporaries and I were just out of the Professional Actor Training Programs at the time. The city was gritty then, but a great low-budget life with friends in our 20-somethings, with a lot of auditioning and jobs at regional theaters around the country and in NYC, and eventually overseas, along the way. I grew restless with that lifestyle as a long-term plan, moved to LA for a couple years, and then after a second year-long European tour of Phantom of the Opera on which I met my beautiful bride, I moved back to NYC and took a job working for Clive Davis at his Arista Records/J Records – RCA Music Group/ultimately part of Sony Music during that industry’s last dozen “boom” years of physical music product. For the most recent dozen years, I’ve served as director of marketing and communications for MCP in Provincetown and nationally, and also as co-founder of MiWeb-Extendo, a cloud data engineering firm that is innovating in cloud data product development and platforms for health care, finance, big retail and other industries.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
If you live here long enough, you may have many, right? Having our families and friends travel in from all corners of the country to be here for our NYC wedding was magical and tops the list. Seeing my wife, soprano Nell Snaidas, make her Carnegie Hall debut as part of the regular season subscription series this winter was another peak moment. Also — watching Nell seated at her harpsichord in our dining room some years back, collaborating via phone with Alicia Keys (a product of HK herself), in advance of Alicia’s Grammy performance with Kathleen Battle, was a special one (props to Carolyn Williams). For this West Racine kid, special too was working with folks along the way like Clive Davis and so many talented folks ‘behind the scenes’ — many of whom have gone on to become leaders in their own right in music and other industries. When we moved the record label into temporary HQs at the Waldorf-Astoria Towers, I was asked by Clive one day there to show a very well known star around and “show her what we’re doing here” while he took a brief call. I think that short one-on-one tour showing Whitney Houston our temporary offices has to stand out as a special NYC moment.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
The decency. Why is The Best Years Of Our Lives a towering film of the 20th Century? I think because it captures a core decency of “anytown USA” leading up to, during, and immediately after World War II. Today, in 2023, I believe that the best example of that shining core decency that defines America is represented every day in New York City, where 800 languages are spoken right-up next to one another. And right smack dab at the beating heart of this melting pot is Hell’s Kitchen.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I used to like to think it was a protean range across any theatrical style or accent… But now I understand it to be my ability to kill a fly from across a room with a rubber band.
What else should we know about you?
I bleed Green Bay Packer green and gold.
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Tom’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Skyline Gourmet Deli — 700 10th Avenue (bw corner of 49th St)
Wally Alkandi and his 7 Brothers family businesses make the modern corner deli the Cheers of early 21st Century NYC. The definition of a neighborhood institution created, grown and run by people of special vision and decency. An All-American melting pot HK NYC success story.
Superior Gourmet Marketplace — 555 10th Avenue (bw W40/41st St)
Hamza Nagi, in business with his cousin Wally Alkandi, are Yemeni Americans re-defining the NY deli/bodega. Watching them grow-up behind the counter at our corner deli and mature as successful entrepreneurs who embody special vision, commitment and generosity of spirit has been one of my all-time favorite NYC/Hell’s Kitchen stories.
Sullivan Street Bakery — 533 W47th Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
Having one of the great bakeries in America two blocks away is the essence of NYC/HK “around any corner” lifestyle. A daily gathering place on the far west side, thanks to Jim Lahey and his crew.
The Jolly Goat Coffee Bar — 515 W47th Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
Best cortado in NYC, thanks to owner Murat Yilmaz and his crew Burak and Brandon and their attention to quality and hospitality.
Preston Konrad Studio — on W49th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Tireless style tastemaker and trailblazer Preston Konrad, when he’s not covering red carpet events for national news networks, is redefining affordable fashion and home decor for HK/NYC/USA via a next-level social media savvy. He and his team exude entrepreneurial vision, creativity, kindness and good humor.
Beaupierre Wines and Spirits — 664 10th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
Yannick and Heidi. More local tastemakers/trailblazers. And Yannick grew up in that building! The wine store and meeting place is a new jewel in Hell’s Kitchen.
Domus — 413 W44th Street (bw 9th/10th Aves)
For any great institution, its “product” is inseparable from the people that create and operate it. Louisa and Nicki take the time to know their neighbors, and with their impeccable taste, bring in treasures with all of us in mind. It is an incredible luxury to have their warm and caring attention.
Ponche Taqueria — 420 W49th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Consistently great Mexican food out of a tiny space on W49th Street. Our go-to.
Stony Hill Farmer’s Market — W43rd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave) outdoor between Manhattan Plaza towers every year from first Saturday in May through the Saturday before Christmas (May 6 – Dec. 23 this season)
Great organic produce, great people. Great way to start every weekend in the growing and harvest seasons.
DeWitt Clinton Park — 11th Avenue and W54th Street
Go on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, or any day for that matter, and you’ll see a beautiful heart-of-Hell’s-Kitchen scene brimming with life all over that park. And an early 20th Century monument to the young folk of the neighborhood who fought in WWI and lost their lives “in Flanders Fields.”
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
At the top of this list should be Phil O’Brien, as his W42ST magazine, in any form of delivery, has its finger on the pulse of the life and flowering of this neighborhood at the center of the greatest city in the world. An amazing accomplishment.
You can follow Tom Fervoy on Instagram @tomfervoy. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself) please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.