Texan Pamela Milam helps choose great reads for book clubs nationwide. She loves living in Hell’s Kitchen – “It’s the best of both worlds.” This is Pamela’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I was born in Texas and never imagined living anywhere else. My childhood friend Gregory Allen moved here, and I visited him. Sometime after 2010, my spouse Jamie Fowler and I started splitting our time between New York and Texas. Now, we live in Hell’s Kitchen and we love it. It’s a dream I never had the good sense to have, and it came true anyway.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was as a salad bar attendant at Shoney’s Restaurant in Denton, Texas. I still remember exactly how it felt to walk into the freezer vault to chop the lettuce with a giant industrial lettuce-chopper. It was freezing, exhilarating and satisfying. These days, I spend my time reading as a first-round reader for Great Group Reads through the Women’s National Book Association. Our selection committee chooses books for book clubs nationwide to read and discuss. I still have an eye for good lettuce, though.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
One favorite moment was when I served as a background performer for Succession Season 4. We filmed the funeral scene for a main character and my photo ended up in the Daily Mail UK! I met some wonderful people on set and had a great time. Shout out to Jenny Tucker and Gary Suran!
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love Hell’s Kitchen because the neighborhood feels lively and vibrant. There are so many different kinds of people, different ways of living, people speaking different languages and there’s such variety everywhere you look. I’ve never felt bored here.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
My superpower is the fact that I genuinely take an interest in other people. I’m someone who can be counted on to care.
What else should we know about you?
I love the theatre and attend musicals and plays every chance I get. It’s impossible to see everything, but I try!
Also, I’m a friend (and devoted follower!) of Duchess Goldblatt, the author of Becoming Duchess Goldblatt: A Memoir. I harbor the not-so-secret hope that one day her story will find its way to Broadway and I’ll get to see the show!
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Pamela’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
City Star Salon — 875 8th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
This place offers great haircuts, color and styling. I appreciate Kate and Anvar so much.
54 Below — 254 W54th Street (bw 7th/8th Ave)
54 Below is one of my favorite places. It’s such a sure thing! If I have friends or family visiting from out of town, I take them there for dinner and a cabaret show. The food is reliably delicious, and the music leaves me feeling restored and happier about the world.
The Palm West Side — 250 W50th Street (bw 7th/8th Ave)
I love the food, but what I love best is the staff. Jeffrey and Marina always provide such friendly, impeccable service. The bar makes an absolutely perfect Palm Margarita, and every dish on the menu is divine.
Fushimi Times Square — 311 W43rd Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Fushimi moved into the space that Hakkasan once occupied on 43rd Street. I wondered if it would live up to its predecessor, but it absolutely does! The Salmon Four Ways is so good. And now they offer a Pre-Fixe Lunch (11am-3:30pm M-F) for $21 with four courses.
Our Lotto Guy near Junior’s Restaurant in Times Square
We always go to the same Lotto Guy — his place is on the sidewalk near Junior’s at Broadway and 49th. He greets us with a smile and always wishes us good luck. We haven’t won yet, but there’s still time!
T-Mobile — 869 8th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the T-Mobile in our neighborhood truly brings me joy. They’ve already helped so much with my phone service and guess what – they have a Magenta Plan that is extremely affordable if you’re over 55. I’m almost there!
The US Post Office at Radio City Station
I love having a physical post office nearby. It makes things convenient and efficient. The clerks and staff at Radio City Station are friendly and helpful.
NYU Langone — 355 W52nd Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
NYU Langone offers routine healthcare and urgent care right here in the neighborhood. Their app is useful! You can find a doctor, set up appointments, get on a waitlist and see test results — all in one place!
Hell’s Kitchen Park — W48th Street and 10th Avenue
During the worst part of the pandemic, my spouse and I took our tennis rackets to the handball courts at Hell’s Kitchen Park. We hit tennis balls against the backboard and got some exercise. It was nice to have a place like that so close.
Edison Parkfast — 332 W44th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
This neighborhood garage is positioned right where it needs to be! It’s near all of the best theatres and restaurants. It’s a 24-hour garage and the staff makes a point to take good care of their customer’s vehicles. Over time, we’ve become particularly appreciative of Hector, Stanley and NaNa.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Something I love about HK is that there’s always something to do, people to see, and educational opportunities. But if you want to retreat to your apartment to rest and restore, HK can also provide a feeling of peace and calm. It’s the best of both worlds.