Actor, recording artist, songwriter and model Benjamin Hey! was born in Brooklyn but has fallen in love with Hell’s Kitchen and feels right at home here. Benjamin shares his West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I’m a “True Yorker!” I was born in Brooklyn and I’ve been living in Manhattan now for 20+ years.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was working for MTV as a production assistant. Now I’m an actor/recording artist/songwriter and model. I’m a creative who is pursuing his life dreams!
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
Good question! The memory that first comes to mind was on November 7, 2020 when we got the news that Biden was elected! It was a warm and sunny Saturday. The energy around the city was vibrant and contagious. Strangers smiled at one another, high-fived and some even popped bottles from their fire escapes! It was a needed pretty moment in an ugly year.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I’ve met the coolest people in Hell’s Kitchen, from creatives, white-collar and blue-collar workers, and everyone in between. Everybody has a cool story about how they ended up here! The food and entertainment options here are so abundant. Each avenue has its own flavor and each street has its own vibe. There’s always some good trouble to get into here too!
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
Umm…does Clark Kent tell everyone he’s Superman? I think not lol. Hmmm…good question. I’m a good energy producer. I know how to liven up any environment and lighten up the mood!
What else should we know about you?
I’ve been writing songs daily since April 15, 2017 and I’m currently releasing new music every week for 2023. My biggest dream is to have a Billboard Hot 100 #1 credit to my name! Can’t stop and I won’t stop.
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Benjamin’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
‘ritas — 756 9th Avenue (between W50/51st St)
The food, the vibe, the drinks!! 10s across the board. Ask for a “Captain” (passionfruit and coconut frozen margarita blend)
Hardware — 697 10th Avenue (between W47/48th St)
I have two groups of rainbow friends I meet with here — one for the drag shows and the other for a post-work-week group hang. Great people and memories were made at that place.
Sullivan St Bakery — 533 W47th St (between 10th/11th Ave)
I’ve only discovered this place through my buddy Phil a few months ago and the lemon poppy muffin and olive oil cake are out of this world! Their pastries are HITTIN’!
Hush — 348 W52nd St (between 8th/9th Ave)
The owners did a remarkable job with the renovation and it’s different from its former identity. Well done! Hush makes me feel like I’m in London. A little bougie but sexy. I also just started pole dancing as a hobby so I’ve gotten to play around with the poles there!
Claudio’s Pizza — 598 10th Ave (between W43/44th St)
This place reminds me of some pizzerias in Brooklyn. Mom and Pop style, authentic, unpretentious and classically New York. So good!!
B Side Pizza — 370 W51st St (between 8th/9th Ave)
The brick oven pizza here is amazing! The Killer Bee and El Puerco Loco are my favorites! The Brussels Sprouts are delicious too.
El Rancho Burritos — 359 W45th St (between 8th/9th Ave)
I love authentic Mexican which is mom-and-pop style. It’s always good and doesn’t break the bank. El Rancho is also a new find for me but it needs to be recognized!
Capizzi — 547 9th Ave (between W40/41st St)
Can you guys tell I’m a pizza fanatic by my answers lol? Capizzi also specializes in brick oven pizza and reminds me of spots in my hometown — Brooklyn. So delicious!
Schmackary’s — 362 W45th St (between 8th/9th Ave)
The Classic Chocolate Chip and Maple Bacon Cookies are my favorites! As soon as I walk in, I immediately smile. The smell, the taste…instant joy in my mouth! My sweet tooth is super satisfied here. HK staple!
Lucky’s Famous Burgers —370 W 52nd St (between 7th/8th Ave)
I’ve had some late-night goodies at this burger joint and they have sweet potato fries! I’m always confident that the cool and friendly staff are gonna give me good meal here and they haven’t disappointed!
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I only eat the way I do because of two servings of vegetables per day, plenty of water and I exercise seven times a week minimum. Just in case anyone was judging my food choices lol.
You can follow Benjamin on Instagram @thecaptainbenjaminhey. 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.