There might not be a fancy, schmancy, in-person ceremony this year — thanks, COVID — but the W42ST Best of Awards 2021 (sponsored by Wells Fargo and supported by HYHK Alliance and The Durst Organization) are underway. We will be out on the streets surprising and delighting our category winners over the next week…
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Next June, this eponymous New York bakery will complete 30 years on 9th Avenue. Our readers nominated it for Best Place to Eat (and even Best Bar — we still think there is a speakeasy lurking there that we don’t know about). However, it topped the W42ST reader poll for the Best Coffee Shop. Take a bow, Amy Scherber and Amy’s Bread.
Amy’s Bread – 672 9th Ave (bw W46/47th St)
After presenting the award, we sat down with Amy to catch up on how she and her team have survived (and thrived) during the pandemic.
“I loved W42ST’s newsletter during the pandemic because it really linked people together. And it reminded us that we’re all one community. I’ve lived here for a really long time — since the eighties. I didn’t always feel like it was like cohesive as a one place. But during this time it seems like people who were in this area really came out and supported,” Amy told us. “There are always tourists, which we love and we need. All businesses appreciate having extra sales from tourists, but having the local people made a big difference and it was very meaningful and we got to build a lot of relationships.”
Amy, like the rest of the world, caught the baking bug during COVID. “The other thing that happened was that we all wanted to be baking,” she shared. “I wanted to be making all these products. And so we never missed a day. We always made our full line of every product, a beautiful variety. A lot of people just cut back cause they couldn’t do it. We didn’t really have the staff either, but we made all of our products through the whole pandemic. I think that comforted people with good treats and healthy food, those crusty loaves of bread they wanted for their big soups and things like that.”
Through the past 20 months, Amy’s Bread’s window display has raised a smile. “We tried to make some messages on our bread, really share our feelings and the local sentiment of what’s going on with. So that was kind of fun,” said Amy commenting on the stencilled messages on their loaves. “Kendall Jacques has been working on the windows. She has been having this vision of what to do with each new window. I took care of decorating the window for all these years — but she’s envisioned something sort of a little more special to have people feel excited about coming by and standing outside and looking in.”
While Broadway was dark, her 9th Avenue manager Paul Miller introduced “Broadway Wednesdays”. Amy told us: “In the depths of the pandemic, Paul had the dream that Broadway would reopen. He did ‘Broadway Wednesdays’ even before we had any shows, just so we could get everybody excited. Hell’s Kitchen is such a Broadway community. It’s really fun to have these days to lift our spirits.”
Here’s what our readers had to say about why Amy’s Bread is the best coffee shop in Hell’s Kitchen:
“We love Amy’s vibe and community support and delectable affordable bakes!” said Tatiana Chua.
“Once again, I’m partial to Amy’s. She’s been in the neighborhood almost as long as I have. Delicious desserts!” said Gary Alaimo.
“Love the baked goods, especially the carrot cake and the monkey cake (banana bread in cake form!)” said Christine Kong.
Amy’s Bread won against stiff opposition. Last year, Kahve took top spot in our awards and the rivalry between Sullivan Street Bakery and Amy’s continues in this tight contest. “We’re old time rivals and friends,” said Amy when she heard Jim Lahey’s bakery was one of the runners up.
Kahve – 403 W51st St (corner of 9th Ave)
“I love Kahve’s coffee selections (as well as tea) — they are always a regular part of my routine,” said Brian Mastroianni.
Sullivan Street Bakery – 533 W47th St (bw 10/11th Ave)
“Because the baristas are awesome, the best coffee, and I can eat delicious pastries as well,” said Sergio B.
The choice in Hell’s Kitchen just keeps on getting better and better, with newcomers like Afficionado Coffee Roasters and Grind Coffee adding to the places to get a cup of coffee (and a sweet treat!).
Afficionado Coffee Roasters — 750 11th Ave (corner of W53rd St)
“They have amazing coffee and a beautiful space, plus friendly employees! They source directly from the growers and have stories behind every item they have in the store. These guys are true pioneers in the industry!” said Beverly Lacsina.
Birch Coffee – 884 9th Ave (bw W57/58th St)
“Excellent and warm vibe,” said Ana Sofia Harrison.
Bird and Branch – 359 W45th St (bw 8/9th Ave)
“Everything is delicious, creative, surprising, from the inventive drinks to the food. Whatever they put on the menu is not just good — it’ll be the best dang version of it you’ve had (see: egg sandwich). They take their mission seriously, and pivoted during the worst of the pandemic for NYC to bring hot egg sandwiches and drinks to hospital workers,” said Lu Han.
Frisson Espresso – 326 W47th St (bw 8/9th Ave)
“Great coffee, warm and friendly employees — especially the owners, who really love their craft,” said Antoinette Ady.
Gregory’s Coffee – 630 9th Ave (bw W44/45th St)
“Love this coffee and especially their vegan bar,” said Heartie Look.
Grind Coffee – 602 9th Ave (corner of W43rd St)
“Fun vibe, always feels inviting, their pastries are delicious, and their coffee is nice and strong — just like their WiFi!” said Cesar R.
Ground Central Coffee Company – 888 8th Ave (bw W52/53rd St)
“They are just amazing. They have such perfect customer service, and the coffee tastes amazing,” said Shauny D.
Laly Restaurant – 630 10th Ave (corner of W45th St)
“Laly is the best,” said Jeremy Kaplan.
Little Pie Company – 424 W43rd St (bw 9/10th Ave)
“The pie that goes along with the coffee can not be beaten,” said James Latus.
REX – 864 10th Ave (corner of W57th St)
“Besides best coffee, THE BEST breakfast sandwiches,” said Miranda Horan.
Romeo & Juliet Colombian Coffee – 555 W42nd St (corner of 11th Ave)
“The most friendly people, outdoor seating, and great food — pan de queso,” said Liz Milizio.
St Kilda Coffee – 328 W44th St (bw 8/9th Ave)
“Best selection of coffee roasters, perfectly brewed/pulled!” said Andy Leviss.
The Jolly Goat Coffee Bar – 515 W47th St (bw 10/11th Ave)
“The friendliest staff, the freshest croissants, and the tastiest coffee around,” said Taylor Pullinger.
Vanilla Gorilla – 332 W44th St (bw 8/9th Ave)
“Great staff in this establishment. Coffee is great too. It’s more of a personal experience when coming here because the staff is very attentive and don’t mind the unusual requests sometimes,” said Bradley G.
Westway Diner – 614 9th Ave (bw W43/44 St)
“Their KONA coffee is the best — and they have been here when here was not popular,” said Linda Giuliano.