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Jeff Dyksterhouse’s Hell’s Kitchen journey began as a wide-eyed midwestern boy with just $300 to his name, to working on some of the biggest musicals of the late 80s and 90s, and finally settling down to becoming a successful neighborhood real estate broker. Read on for his West Side Story…
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I landed in Hell’s Kitchen in the summer of 1985, a wide-eyed 21-year-old midwestern boy fresh out from the University of Michigan. I had $300 to my name. My very first New York City apartment was at 525 West 49th Street. I slept in the living room. My roommate had the bedroom. Worldwide Plaza was still a giant parking lot.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
I was recruited out of college by Macy’s for their Executive Training Program. That’s what brought me here, however I was enamored by the bright lights of Broadway and quickly realized corporate America wasn’t for me. I got into theater management and became the tour manager of some of the biggest musicals of the late 80’s and 90’s. Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables, Grease, and A Chorus Line, to name a few. I also worked on Broadway doing company management stints on Cats, Kiss Of The Spiderwoman and 1776.
In between shows, I worked as the personal assistant to Broadway legends, John Kander and Fred Ebb. Around the time I turned 40, tour life started wearing thin and I wanted to settle down and have a normal life. The city was booming at that time so I decided to go into real estate which I love and continue to do today. My husband Danny Sayegh and I have a team of brokers at Compass. While we work all over Manhattan, Hell’s Kitchen is our home base.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I’ve called Hell’s Kitchen “home” for almost 38 years. I feel I’ve grown and changed with the neighborhood, from those gritty fearless fresh-out-of-college days, when Hell’s Kitchen was a rough and tumble neighborhood, to the more sophisticated, upscale, but still a little edgy, area it is today. I’ve loved living here, watching the neighborhood grow and change, and growing and changing right along with it. No matter where else I might end up someday, Hell’s Kitchen will always be home.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’ve been able to maintain my low key, friendly, midwestern attitude even after living in Hell’s Kitchen for 38 years.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
My New York moments are too numerous to recount, but I’ll drop some of the names involved, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Dorothy Loudon, Joel Grey, Tina Turner, Carol Channing, Brooke Shields, Sally Struthers, Robin Williams, but my favorite New York moment was marrying my husband Danny Sayegh in front of 5 very close friends on our roof top 46 stories in the sky overlooking Hudson Yards, The Hudson River and The Empire State building during the height of the pandemic.
What else should we know about you?
My husband Danny and I have a three-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Henry. I turn 60 this year.
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Jeff’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
The Marshal —628 Tenth Avenue (bw W44th/45th St)
We fell in love with The Marshal and its owner Charlie during the pandemic. Our pizza orders alone during that time probably kept the restaurant afloat! Since then it feels like an extension of our home and Charlie, Theo, Heather, and the rest of the staff feel like family.
Broadway Theater District
I know it’s not one specific place but it was such an important part of my life here for so many years and it’s unique to New York City and has always been the lifeblood of the neighborhood. It may be overflowing with tourists these days, but it holds many, many great memories.
Hudson River Park, Pier 84 — 555 12th Avenue
I love being able to sit by the river and enjoy the water. Also, it has Henry’s favorite dog park.
Sullivan St Bakery — 533 W47th Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
The olive bread!! And the donuts…
Delphinium — 353 W47 Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Owners Michael and John are friends from back in the old theater days.
Kings of Kobe — 650 W42nd Street (bw W41/42nd St)
Best bacon cheese burger and onion rings in the hood.
Mémé — 607 10th Avenue (bw W43/44th St)
Another local favorite where Jacob makes us feel like family.
Little Pie Company — 424 W43rd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
I’ve loved their carrot cake since the early 1990’s. I drooled over their carrot cake in the late 1980’s but couldn’t afford it back then.
The Market Diner
The neighborhood has not been the same since they tore down the Market Diner and replaced it with rental apartments, second only to Theatre Row Diner where I ordered from so often, when I called they would answer the phone …”42G Cheeseburger Deluxe fries well done”
You can follow Jeff on Instagram @jeffdnyc. 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.