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The battle for and against outdoor dining structures rages on. This weekend it was reported that opponents of the “COVID sheds” were heading to the Supreme Court to get them taken down. On 10th Avenue, one wrap-around structure was demolished this Sunday afternoon — revealing a much-loved Hell’s Kitchen mural.
Sesamo, on the corner of W52nd Street and 10th Avenue, had a structure attached to the building, enclosing both sides of the restaurant. Co-owner Sabrina Gao told us: “We were instructed by the Department of Transport to take down the outdoor structures. The one on 52nd Street was due to a ConEd construction project back in April. The wrap-around was deemed ‘illegal’ but we were given ample time to take it down.”
The work has revealed again the 80-foot mural created by Selwyn Senatori back in 2018. The Dutch artist created the artwork depicting a champagne celebration with a “Feed Me Love” bubble to celebrate the opening of Decimo Ristobar back in 2018. When the restaurant became Crispin’s just before the pandemic, the chef painted over some of the artwork but kept the majority of the mural. Then, when outdoor dining happened during the pandemic, the mural was mostly covered — except for those dining in the shed.
Sabrina told us: “We are delighted to give the mural back to the block. The enclosure was a necessary evil to help us through the winters of limited indoor seating. But it was unfortunate that the mural had to be hidden. Now we have the restaurant’s original exterior back, we look forward to a brighter future.”
W42ST spoke to Selwyn about having his art uncovered. “The ‘Feed me Love’ mural I made had resisted tough times. Now I think it’s time to retouch it and give it some extra layers of paint! It’s there to be seen, give joy and connect people through food and love,” said the Dutch artist.
Uncovering the mural is not the only change the team at Sesamo has been making. “We are now opening early Monday through Friday at 8am for breakfast. Also opening late on Friday and Saturday nights through 2am with an innovative bar menu including Wasabi Burger, fried dumplings, cheese and meat board and more,” said Sabrina. “”We will still place tables on the sidewalk in the front of and around the building but I’m not sure if we have the funds to rebuild a new structure on 52nd Street.”
What do you think? Is the outdoor dining structure coming down an improvement to that corner?
I’ve been a resident for nearly 23 years and I have never seen the neighborhood so deplorable. Hell’s Kitchen has become a disgusting place to be, at least for now. Homeless people roaming the streets in droves (this is city-wide), filthy streets and sidewalks, a real loss of feeling safe and secure walking at any time of the day or night. Who would want to dine exposed on the sidewalk without any barriers from being accosted? Not me!
I think a distinction needs to be made between 1) restaurant/sidewalk cafe seating and 2) restaurant/street shed seating.
Prior to Covid, restaurants needed approval for sidewalk seating.
Then, due to Covid, the City relaxed rules relating to traditional sidewalk seating and also enabled something new – street shed seating (more free space).
It seems like Sesamo’s sidewalk seating structure was not OK (and I think I see the problem with it) – but it seems like a few tweeks could be made in a re-design?
That said, the sidewalk is really narrow and I think the City has made a grave mistake in enabling a “free-for-all” approach, suggesting that the only thing that matters in NYC is enabling restaurant seating. (To help restaurants, the City should have reduced taxes for all restaurants)
As for the street sheds (rat shanties)…they need to go ASAP
Lastly, yes there is significant and legitimate concern about menacing people in the neighborhood and all over Manhattan.
I applaud the removal of the outdoor structure, and the return of the wonderful Senatori art! I wish ALL outdoor dining sheds would be removed. They are havens for rats, eyesores, and they have served their purpose. Now, begone!
I am so glad the mural is back and I really hope that Selwyn Senatori is able to return and restore it. I admit I ate in this restaurant because of the mural. I wanted to support the people who support it! Public art even when I don’t like it is better than the sheds.
Sooooooo much better!!! Finally see the beautiful building again. Its actually a much more inviting look for the restaurant.
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