Happy Valentine’s Day weekend. We are sending you love and hugs.

Thanks to all the people who took our survey yesterday on the return to dining at 25%. This is the third time we’ve asked the question — the last surveys being at the end of August (indoor dining came back September 30 the first time) and at the end of October (pre-election and when 50% dining was being touted in the city). Many restaurants are continuing to offer a hybrid of indoor and outdoor dining — and that’s good news, because although there are more folks willing to head indoors, the “Hell NO!” people make up half of our readers now. Read the details here…

We’re lucky that Eater’s chief food critic, Ryan Sutton, lives in the neighborhood. This week he dished up an update to his list of places to eat in Hell’s Kitchen. What do you think?

Last night, we updated the W42ST Hell’s Kitchen is OPEN! app — and added a link to Ryan’s reviews. You can also now search for “Indoor” to find out who’s moved back inside.

It’s a continuing job to keep updated — on Sunday, restaurants and bars increase their opening hours to 11pm (thanks to Governor Cuomo) — so we’ll be updating again then. Please help by emailing us with any changes you see, places we missed, etc.

We’ve updated Toribro Ramen in our app. Totto Ramen on W52nd St changed its name back in August!

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

We started the week talking about some big noise in Hell’s Kitchen. First off, the Power Station — the legendary recording studio on W53rd Street — has reopened after a two-year, multi-million dollar restoration and refurbishment.

From 1977, it became a recording home for artists from Springsteen to Bruno Mars, McCartney to Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper to Herbie Hancock, Bob Dylan to Tony Bennett. The albums produced there are legendary – Brothers in Arms, Bowie’s ChangesBorn in the USA, and the Hamilton cast recording. Sting’s 2016 album 57th & 9th is named after the intersection he crossed every day to get there.

Stephen Webber, executive director of BerkleeNYC, has pioneered the project and took us on a tour. Join us…

Then, down 10th Avenue at W42nd Street, we had a different sort of HK sound — a high-pitched high-rise howling.

A couple of weeks ago, a reader reported that she was being “plagued by a mystery sound in the air most of the day and night — a high-pitched noise from afar that sounds like a tuning fork.” We asked W42ST readers if they had been experiencing the sound pollution anywhere else in Hell’s Kitchen. Many wrote in to us, and we think we have a good idea where it’s coming from! Read more…

We lost a tree on 9th Avenue. Thanks to reader, Michael William G, for this picture taken between W48/49th Street.

We had a batch of trees falling back one night in November 2018 when wet heavy snow hit trees that still had some leaves on. One reader suggested on Twitter: “Most NYC street trees have some sort of root issues for various reasons. Many times it’s because someone repaired the sidewalk and cut them, also just stress and limited growing space.”

The city got a raft of new initiatives from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Indoor dining returned earlier than planned yesterday, plus there is Open Culture and a star-studded NY PopsUp scheme. Read more…


We were sad to hear of the loss of Joe Allen this week. Everyone knew the restaurant, but few got close to the man.

We spoke to Jim Lahey — Joe was his original investor and business partner in Sullivan Street Bakery.

“I admired Joe deeply. He was always enigmatic. He managed to be an optimist and a cynic at the same time,” said Jim. “He was very shy — I would even say painfully shy — if you didn’t know him. He’d rarely make eye contact. He was a deep, deep soul.”

Jim also reminded us that it was Joe Allen who brought Le Hamburger to Paris back in 1972. Le Hamburger now appears on the menu of 85% of French restaurants. Read our interview…

If you’ve walked along W43rd Street towards Times Square or the subway, you might have glimpsed a sign for the Martin Luther King Jr Labor Center — or maybe you stopped and stared at a wonderful, colorful mosaic mural depicting Black and Puerto Rican union members at work and rest, along with a Frederick Douglass quote, “If there is no struggle, there can be no progress.”

Until recently, the building housed 1199SEIU — the largest healthcare union in the country with 450,000 members. They’ve outgrown the building and found new office space over on 7th Avenue. The 13-story office is slated for demolition to make way for a new development. What about the mural? Read on…

Many of us have come to appreciate the new, virtually crowd-free, Times Square ambiance. And with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to share that affection.

Love Letters, created by designers Soft-Firm is the centerpiece of the love fest. The installation won the 13th annual Love in Times Square Design Competition, and is composed of repurposed and donated plywood from building façades across New York City. Find out more…

Tired of seeing all the empty storefronts? Locals — together with non-profit Chashama — are working on a plan to turn those windows into space that can be used for creativity. Are you a landlord, do you know a landlord? More here…

When I moved to New York just over 8 years ago, I landed for 2 months in an Airbnb at W37th and 9th. I looked at the map and it said that the area was somewhere between Clinton and Chelsea (Hell’s Kitchen had been excluded from the maps in those days for fear of scaring off tourists!).

Since then, I’ve learned more about local history — and the area below 42nd Street west of the Port Authority and the Lincoln Tunnel is actually the core of Hell’s Kitchen. Despite the Tunnel ripping out the residential heart in the 1930s, history runs deep. It’s the view of many that the district is named after rookeries (shanties) on W39th and 10th called “Hell’s Kitchen” — not the story of Dutch Fred, the cop, telling a young colleague that the area was “hotter than hell, it’s hell’s kitchen.” These days, the bigger fight is that property developers (and Streeteasy) call the area below W42nd Street Hudson Yards — to try and get property prices up!

Thanks, Adair, for sending me a lyrical New Yorker essay by a long-term resident of that area, Rivka Galchen. It had not appeared in any of my news monitoring, as at no point does it mention Hell’s Kitchen by name. It has many glowing references to Esposito’s, Big Apple Meat Market, and Two Bros Pizza though.

New Yorker in its tweet calls it “the nameless section of Manhattan” and in its headline “living in New York’s unloved neighborhood.” Thoughts…?

Businesses are still closing. On Thursday, Ivan Orkin confirmed that he will not be reopening the Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop at Gotham West Market. Ivan was the anchor tenant to the Market, it’s sad to lose him and his ramen.

Mike Bergemann from Corner Slice (who was also the opening chef for Slurp Shop) told us: “If there is anything I hope people glean from this, and all the other permanent restaurant closings across the city, is that there has never been a better time to support your local neighborhood restaurant, bodega, market, or slice shop. The best way to support us is by ordering directly, to keep our profits from going to the third-party delivery services.”

We featured Kelly McCann recently in our West Side Stories. She’s just published a fine art photo book, “Fragile”. There are over 100 images taken during New York City’s 2020 lockdown. Take a look…

If you are in the mood for a book — and not dining out this weekend — remember to check out the “Hell’s Kitchen at Home Recipebook”.

Lewis Miller Design delivered “their first fully frozen Flower Flash” at 30 Rock yesterday. Go take a trip to see it and warm your Valentine’s Day weekend heart 💐❤️

What we’ve been reading

Christopher Columbus and his NYPD babysitters. (The City)

Guy Fieri has ghosted his way back to Times Square. (Eater)

What money can’t buy — the vaccine… (The Cut)

The Frick opens at its temporary home next month. (Time Out)

Treating your Roomba as a pet is just weird, right?? (Debugger)

Freeze Frame

Walking past the iconic Hell’s Kitchen street art/graffiti on W55th between 10/11th Avenues always gives me a smile. Yesterday, it also illustrated how in this cold, the snow’s just not going anywhere!

We’re taking President’s Day off — so will be back in your inbox on Tuesday. Have a great weekend.