Happy Saturday. Welcome to this sunshine weekend — and next week we can look forward to temperatures topping 60 degrees. Bring it on…

Yesterday, Charlie Ross tweeted that NYPD Midtown North precinct on W54th Street had addressed the community concerns about sidewalk parking. We reported on the issue back in January, with one of Manhattan Community Board members saying police should “stop behaving like an occupying force.” Well done NYPD!

If you have followed Alex Wong’s Instagram account during the pandemic, you will have seen him and friends regularly ballet dancing their way across Dewitt Clinton Park. When he posted earlier this week, his only grumble was the soccer players wanting them to make way for their game.

On Thursday, Alex posted a video he had recorded on March 3 after rocks were thrown at his head near Times Square. He said: “I usually stay silent, but in light of recent events I think it’s important that I speak up. This is an example of how as an Asian, I have learned to stay quiet, keep my head down, and not cause trouble and so I pretended nothing happened. The recent hate crimes towards Asians have really been disturbing and the shooting that happened in Atlanta should have never happened. I need to speak up. Change can’t come fast enough.” We all need to speak up #STOPASIANHATE

Here’s our roundup of what’s been happening in Hell’s Kitchen this week…

Are you ready to get out on the streets and be entertained (or entertain)? Two Hell’s Kitchen blocks have been given “Open Culture” status — so you can watch (or create) art through to the end of October. All the details here…

Meanwhile, on 10th Avenue the NYC Litter Legion got a visit from Buddy the Rat and an NBC News crew. Watch the fun… You can also join Catie and the crew tomorrow (Sunday) at 11am for a clean up at the NE corner of W42nd St and 10th Avenue.

George has been thinking “bright, bright, bright” as he’s been checking out what studio apartments Hell’s Kitchen has to offer. As he says: “With just a single room for living, it’s important that your studio home attracts enough light to hit every corner.” Look here…

Hell’s Kitchen activist Christine Berthet describes herself as “persistent.” Since landing in New York from France just over 40 years ago, she has fought to reclaim 9th Avenue from “the hellish Lincoln Tunnel traffic”. For the past 15 years, she has focused those efforts through CHEKPEDS (a non-profit) to stop the gridlock, improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists and demand clean air. She was a key member of the Manhattan Community Board 4 team that forced Port Authority to abandon plans to knock down blocks of the neighborhood for a new terminal. Here’s Christine’s West Side Story…

Much like a Frank Sinatra retirement concert, you cannot keep a great New York bar from making a comeback! The Mean Fiddler is the latest of the “permanently closed” Manhattan eateries to open again (previously it was the Loeb Boathouse at Central Park). Read more about their St Patrick’s Day reopening

Congratulations to the team at Norma Gastronomia Siciliana for opening this week on the corner of W53rd St and 9th Ave (where Georgio’s Country Grill used to be). They’ve transformed the place into a bright, light space.

The city is coming alive and this week saw the opening up of some favorite restaurants and bars. VYNL’s greatest hits made a comeback on 9th Avenue. They’re not quite getting the band back together, but the fabled diner’s favorite menu items are back at ‘ritas, B-Side Pizza and Hell’s Kitchen. Read more and reminisce…

It was great to see Governor Andrew Cuomo recognize the work of Chana Widawski and Bailey Sterling at the Hell’s Kitchen Free Store in his “Deep Breath Moment” this week.

My only disappointment is that his link was to the Patch follow-up of our story. My letter calling for the Governor’s resignation has currently had no response…🤣 

Hell’s Kitchen gained a new eatery this week. Thanks to reader Carole Robbins for tipping us off. “In a world where our dearly loved restaurants are disappearing there is a bright light. On W51st Street, in place of everyone’s beloved Azuri, is an empanada and more store. Seguidilla Empanadas,” she told us. “Have you ever tasted a Dominican empanada made of Yucca for a shell? Do it.” Meet the owners, Adam and Zoralie, here…

Congratulations to Le Rivage Chef Paul Denamiel and his wife, Alison, on the birth of their first child. Evelyn Nancy was born this on Thursday at Mount Sinai West. Restaurant Row favorite Le Rivage will reopen on April 1.

Indoor dining in New York City increased to 50% capacity yesterday (Friday).

“In New York State, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in infection and hospitalization rates. If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

On Thursday, I made a 5:30pm reservation at Ikebana Zen on W53rd St. At that time, there were no other diners, others started to arrive at 7:30 as we left. It was nice to be indoors again — pick your moments. If you are cautious, like me, dining off-peak helps support these struggling restaurants. As you can see from the picture of my last course, it’s a rather special experience (yes, that’s gold leaf floating on top of that Matcha Panna Cotta!)

Ray Park messaged us this week asking to get the word out to other local business owners about opportunist thieves operating in the neighborhood. His glass front door at Red Poke had been smashed in an early morning burglary. More details here…

Thanks to Ben Wolfe for capturing the beauty of Broadway on a rainy night. He sent us this picture of the “lights back on W45th Street.”

What we’ve been reading

The Columbus Circle barricades have come down at last. (Patch)

Plans for a Manhattan congestion fee are on track. (NY1)

Side hustles that are helping Broadway cast and crew to keep their heads above water… (Inside Edition)

Why these affordable apartments are sitting empty. (The Real Deal)

New York haikus that bring the city to life. (TimeOut)

Freeze Frame

It’s the first day of spring. Gary Hershorn was up to see the sunrise behind Manhattan this morning. Enjoy the weekend, see you Monday.

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