Steve Kaufman and Enza Santoro were nominated as W42ST Hell’s Heroes even before the pandemic. Then they took to the front line last March to provide vital meds and manage the rising panic with calm and professionalism while putting themselves at risk. Now the Hell’s Kitchen pharmacy they run faces closure.

Steve Kaufman and Enza Santoro photographed pre-COVID at the pharmacy. Photo: Phil O’Brien

This week, Walgreens announced plans to close their Duane Reade pharmacy on 9th Avenue between W43/44th Street this fall. Walgreens has indicated that they will shutter the store on November 18, and then offer services from their location on 8th Avenue.

“Supposedly the staff from the 9th Avenue store will have jobs at 8th Avenue. We have no intention of going over to 8th Avenue,” said local customer Marion Murphy. “We will either switch to the CVS or go further uptown.  But anyone who wants to complain and try to keep our drugstore should call Walgreens.”

The Duane Reade pharmacy on 9th Avenue is scheduled to close on November 18. Photo: Phil O’Brien

In March 2020, Kaufman nominated Santoro for the W42ST Hell’s Hero award, saying: “Enza Santoro came to the United States from Italy when she was five years old, and has lived on W43rd Street her whole life. She worked at the Victoria supermarket and Manhattan Plaza and is now the head pharmacy clerk at Duane Reade, on 9th Avenue. She is the kindest, most caring person I have ever met. She has taken money out of her own pocket to pay for people’s medication and has called pharmaceutical companies to get samples and coupons to help patients pay for their medications. She is constantly calling patients to see how they are feeling and reminding them to take their meds.”

This summer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued a proclamation that made Sunday, August 29, 2021 “Steve Kaufman Appreciation Day” saying that Kaufman was “one of the most devoted pharmacists in Manhattan” and during the COVID-19 and the AIDS crisis he had gone “above and beyond to support the community”.

The Proclamation from Borough President Gale Brewer at the end of August.

It’s not the first time that a Duane Reade closure has caused distress to Manhattan residents. Back in September 2019, Upper West Side residents protested the shuttering of their local pharmacy.

Kaufman, who is supervising pharmacist at the branch and Santoro, who is head pharmacy clerk, declined to comment for our story. In June this year, Kaufman and Santoro were voted Walgreens Champion of Champions in their Best in the Region awards.

If you object to the closure, you can contact Walgreens on (800) 925-4733 or via email at

Join the Conversation


  1. I emailed Walgreens directly begging them to keep our little pharmacy where it is with Steve and Enzo!

  2. They have been steadfast beacons in the neighborhood for so many years. I’m sorry to hear this news.
    ESCO Pharmacy on 9th Avenue is one of the last remaining privately owned pharmacies in neighborhood so if you are looking for a new home for your medical and prescription needs, I’d recommend going there.

  3. I am no longer in the neighborhood but this is a travesty. Steve was my pharmacist for 30+ years, when it was Manhattan Plaza Pharmacy. He’s amazing. He was even my notary. I can’t believe they are closing this location but I did read that Walgreens is closing a lot of stores due to shop lifting. It sure won’t be any better on 8th Avenue. I hope Walgreens comes to their senses.

  4. As far as I know this drug store/pharmacy is still open in time for pre-Thanksgiving
    needs. Location is Ninth Avenue and West 44th Street. Duane Reade seems to
    own many of the West side pharmacies when local used to be the name.
    Try Arrow Pharmacy, Ninth Avenue and West 57th. Easy to know and easy to
    get the help anyone needs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *