Hell’s Kitchen has been a constant for Sean Coughlin since 2009, from his days waiting on tables at 44&X through his time working for Council Members Corey Johnson and Erik Bottcher. Sean shares his West Side Story.

Sean Coughlin in Hell's Kitchen
Sean has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since 2009. Photo: Phil O’Brien

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I moved to New York in August of 2009 after graduating college with a degree in musical theater. I lived on an air mattress on the living room floor of a friend’s apartment in Harlem for two months, spent another two months sleeping in a literal closet in Astoria that was listed as a bedroom on Craigslist, and have been in Hell’s Kitchen ever since.

What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was at 44&X after my best friend from college who worked there recommended me. I have since worked all over Hell’s Kitchen, including as a personal trainer and rock climbing instructor at Manhattan Plaza Health Club, a cyclist for a short-lived delivery-only kitchen on 46th Street called Savory, a waiter at The Marshal (from which I still order food at least once a week), and in the offices of Council Members Corey Johnson and Erik Bottcher. I just recently left government after many years to become the Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs at Pace University.

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
As cheesy as it sounds, it has to be my first date with my wife seven years ago at Beer Culture on W45th Street. I walked her back to the subway in Times Square, kissed her goodnight, and felt like I was the star of a movie. 

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I feel like Hell’s Kitchen is the best of New York all in one place. If you ever want to be reminded that you live in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, you walk a block or two east. If you want to relax by the water, you walk a block or two west. Central Park? Head north. We have Broadway.

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’m very good at understanding the reasons that people do things, which used to drive me insane before I started therapy.

Sean Coughlin and his wife Step
Sean with his wife, Steph, and their two cats. Photo supplied

What else should we know about you?
My wife is my better in every way. 

Sean’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen

The Marshal — 628 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
I started working here for years as a waiter when it first opened and have been a loyal customer since I left. Most restaurants can’t say that about their staff.

Sean Coughlin with Charlie Marshall at the Marshal
Sean with Charlie Marshall, chef and owner of The Marshal. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Back Pocket Bar — 462 W49th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
I loved Pocket Bar but then suddenly so did everyone else and it was always packed so I was very excited when Back Pocket Bar opened. 

Little Pie Company — 424 W43rd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
When I’m walking by and realize it’s between 7-8pm and there are half-off items available are some of the happiest moments of my life. 

Fine and Dandy — 445 W49th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Having the world’s cutest shop on my block is a delight and I’m glad they were able to open a vintage shop next door. 

Wine Escape — 405 W44th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
There was a decent stretch of time in my single days when I brought every one of my dates to Wine Escape. 

Sean Coughlin at Wine Escape in Hell's Kitchen
Sean at Wine Escape. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Amy’s Bread — 672 9th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
I also feel like I’m in a movie when I go to Amy’s Bread — because it feels like a setting in every NYC romantic comedy I’ve ever seen.

Sullivan Street Bakery — 533 W47th Street (bw 10th/11th St)
I woke up early on my wife’s birthday this year and came home with a variety of baked goods. She was very happy.

Calo Studio Hair Salon — 324 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Viviana has cut my hair for over a decade and will continue to do so until one of us leaves New York or dies.

Sean Coughlin getting a haircut at Calo Salon in Hell's Kitchen
Sean getting a haircut by Viviana at Calo Studio. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Wendy’s (anywhere)
Look, I’m not proud of this one, but sometimes you have a hangover that only a chocolate frosty and french fries will cure.

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.

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