Anthony Colon’s lifelong dream of living in Hell’s Kitchen came true in 2020. He’s the manager of ticketing and audience services for The New Group, but you might also recognize him from Casellula and The Meatball Shop. This is Anthony’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
My New York story starts like many. I was born and raised in Pelham Bay, off the 6 train in the Bronx. I lived in the Bronx till I was about 23 years old. After some bouncing around Manhattan, Long Island and Queens I finally landed in Hell’s Kitchen. My lifelong dream of living in HK finally came true in 2020. I had long been a supporter of HK, between restaurants, bars and activities. I’d been spending so much time in this neighborhood! It only made sense for me to move over here too.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
I had some minor jobs that most people have growing up. Camp Counselor, baby sitter (but like, a cool one who let you watch Disney Channel after 8pm) and other things. My first real job was at The New Victory Theater in Times Square as an usher. That’s where I found a passion for working in theater off the stage. Now — I’m the manager of ticketing and audience services for The New Group. I also work in restaurants — I was working at Casellula Cheese and Wine Cafe and I’m currently a bartender and server at The Meatball Shop.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
I’m a huge theatre lover, so there are two theatre-related moments that are tied for me. The first, was when I brought my mom to Casellula for dinner one night. Mom leaned over to me and said that Sara Bareilles was sitting behind us. I thought her celebrity radar was off because I turned around and saw Phillipa Soo — turns out they were actually there together. Moms are always right. The second moment was meeting Darren Criss and Chord Overstreet at Marie’s Crisis and drinking the night away with them.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
Well, of course, I love all the gay bars. But most of all, I love Hell’s Kitchen because it’s one of the few places in Manhattan that feels like a neighborhood and a community. I walk around and I constantly run into people I know. I feel like I live in a small town in the big city.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’m a den mother. I cook big meals and feed the people I love, I take people in when they’re between places, and I’m told that I have a way of making people feel loved and valued — does that count as a superpower?
What else should we know about you?
I’m always in motion. I’m always working. I always have multiple jobs. And they’re always within an eight-block radius of one another. The only time I leave Hell’s Kitchen is when I go to Marie’s Crisis.
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Anthony’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Casellula Cheese and Wine Cafe
I can’t talk about places I love without first mentioning Casellula. I became a regular at Casellula and then one night, while eating cheese, my server asked if I wanted to join the staff. I promise I didn’t ONLY say “yes” for the cheese discount! Working at Casellula became an amazing way for me to connect with the community I already loved. Casellula closed in January under new ownership after they fired the entire staff in response to our asking to speak with them about our tip-sharing program. The loss has been devastating for the Casellula team and for the Hell’s Kitchen community. As a staff, we have been working together for the past three months to fight to save the restaurant and re-open. It’s something we want to do because we love Casellula and each other, but even more so, it is something we’re fighting to do because we know how important the restaurant has been to Hell’s Kitchen for over 15 years. The loss and ordeal have been heartbreaking, but the love of our little curd nerd team and the love from the community as we’ve gone through this, have been beautiful. #savecasellula and follow our story @savecasellula
The Meatball Shop — 798 9th Avenue (corner of W53rd St)
You’re probably wondering why I have so many jobs. It’s because I genuinely love the places I work, which brings me to favorite place number two, The Meatball Shop. You can find me at the Shop most brunches, dancing around and playing show tunes and 2000s hits. Great food, cheap drinks, and did I mention playing show tunes?
Sesamo — 764 10th Avenue (corner of W52nd St)
Hidden in the depths of 10th Avenue and 52nd Street, you’ve got one of the best restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen. Sesamo’s menu of Italian food with Asian flair and influence is both groundbreaking and delicious. Not to mention cocktails that will knock you off your barstool.
The Signature Theatre — 480 W42nd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
My home away from home is the Signature Center. Yes, this is because so many of our shows from The New Group go up there, but it’s also because of the amazing cafe. The bar manager, Miranda, is one of the sweetest humans ever and she whips up the best pre-show drinks.
Vers — 714 9th Avenue (bw W48/49th St)
A newer spot in Hell’s Kitchen — Vers has great cocktails, cute boys and fun entertainment. It’s also one of the best late night cocktail bars in the area.
Flaming Saddles — 793 9th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
Speaking of cute boys…. I couldn’t possibly make a list of favorite places in Hell’s Kitchen without including Saddles. Every 45 minutes, you’ve got bartenders in cowboy boots and short shorts jumping on a bar and dancing their hearts out for a screaming, cheering crowd. Don’t forget to tip them after those dances — they’re working hard up there.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Just that I’m so grateful to live in and be a part of this incredible community. And one more shout out to the Save Casellula efforts! We’d love your support. Instagram: @savecasellula
Come check out @thenewgroupnyc‘s next show Bernarda’s Daughters playing at the Signature Center starting May 2. Use code W42Anthony for $10 off your ticket before May 21st.
You can follow Anthony on Instagram @Anthonysstillhere. 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