Good morning and happy Friday. Bounce out of bed and go check out the sunshine first thing, as the rest of the day is gray. Heavy rain from late evening through to Saturday morning — but Sunday will bring sunshine and highs in the 50s for a few days.

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management is to double the number of first-round dispensary licenses — but will the move be enough to stamp out Hell’s Kitchen’s prolific illegal smoke shop gray market? Since our last report, another one is preparing to open on 10th Ave and W43rd Street (replacing the popular Strand Han’s Cleaners). Read more…

Pink Treezzz Smoke Shop

Eyewitness News reporter Derick Waller may have moved to Lower Manhattan but he’s still drawn back to “the center of everything” — Hell’s Kitchen and its many tempting restaurants and small businesses. Read Derick’s West Side Story…

Derick Waller and Michelle Charlesworth

If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself) please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

What we’ve been reading

* Stories that might be behind a paywall are marked with a 💰

Just cause as Starbucks worker is reinstated — the beginning of the end for “at will” firing in NYC. (The Guardian)

Behold: The Great Disappearing Act of the Hotel Pennsylvania. (New York Times💰)

In 1974, about 11 percent of New York was rat-afflicted — a rodentologist estimates it is now at 80 to 90 percent. (The Atlantic💰)

“We’re not God, but we do save soles” — the future of NYC’s shoe shiners. (NBC)

New York has featured in 79,384 books — it’s the world’s most written-about city. (SecretNYC)

Freeze Frame

Warkop Rendy

Architect Rendy Supratman took time on his visit from Surabaya, Indonesia to find a little bit of home in Hell’s Kitchen at Warkop. “Omar Karim Prawiranegara and his coffee shop will always be second home when it comes to the Big Apple. Hopefully, there will be more Warkops all over America and the world!” he said on Instagram.

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