Good morning and welcome to the weekend!

We all know that we live in the greatest city in the world — but is it the blend of weird and crazy that makes Hell’s Kitchen the best neighborhood?

Liam Stack wrote on Twitter yesterday afternoon: “There is an old man walking around Hell’s Kitchen in a powder blue pin stripe suit, gray trench coat, fedora, gold tipped walking stick AND a mini sound system in his jacket that is pumping 1950s music around him as he strolls.”

He continued: “Midtown Manhattan is one of NYC’s great Weird Neighborhoods and it really does not get enough credit for that. You know you’ve been treated to a bizarre Midtown phenomenon of the highest order when you have to stop and think, ‘wait, did I hallucinate that?'”

Meanwhile, in the “land of crazy” Lilly’s bartender, James, suffered a breakfast burrito theft. The video shows the guy walking down the bar, taking a taste and then walking off with the snack.

Over at Fine & Dandy, their video footage caught a visitor shoplifting a hat. The galling thing for Matt was that he spotted the guy later when he went to the Post Office, and the thief ran off (still sporting his multi-colored cap).

You don’t have to be crazy to love Hell’s Kitchen, but it helps!

So here’s what’s been happening in Hell’s Kitchen this week…

On Monday, we said farewell to the 50 businesses that were COVID casualties. Thanks to Michael Muñoz and our readers for compiling the list and sharing memories. You’ll need a few cups of coffee (or large cocktails) to get through our nostalgic roll call.

We’ve delved into a recent real estate report that examined 29 million changes of address in 2020. After comparing 2019 figures, Hell’s Kitchen lost 7,000 residents during the pandemic — the most of any area in New York. Read more…

The loss of Hell’s Kitchen businesses and residents during the pandemic pales in comparison to the loss of friends and loved ones to COVID-19.

“My sister-in-law died from COVID-19 exactly one year ago today. Besides the 116 Hells Kitchen residents who officially died from COVID-19, there are many more of us who lost family and friends who didn’t live in the neighborhood, and this is a bittersweet time of year when those memorials begin hitting home,” wrote Gregg. “I don’t know if it’s a uniquely American focus to mourn the loss of businesses and residents, but to gloss over the actual deaths of human beings.”

As we move forward, we should not forget all the people who have died. Many neighbors carry a very real human void that is irreplaceable, no matter how many businesses reopen or people move back into the neighborhood.

On Monday, we joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and Lin-Manuel Miranda as they celebrated the opening of a new vaccination hub for the theater, film and TV industry at 20 Times Square. We spotted the Mayor taking long strides up Broadway after the event — and followed. We discovered that just as he’s not throwing away his shot, he wasn’t going to give up his opportunity for a free donut!

You might think Neil Hershman is crazy to open up a frozen yogurt shop in Times Square during a pandemic, but that’s just the low end of this 25-year-old’s ambition. On Tuesday evening, Neil left his newly opened store behind on 7th Avenue to fly to Kathmandu for a much bigger challenge — he’s climbing Everest. Read more about Neil and 16 Handles…

Adding to that sweet news, you can now pick up and get delivery from a brand new Magnolia Bakery at Columbus Circle. We took a little tour of the cute store…


Join the Trash Queen and her Litter Legion for an Earth Day Eco-themed Costume Cleanup on Sunday April 25 at 12pm. After the cleanup, there will be a party in Hell’s Kitchen Park with food sponsored by local businesses (Amy’s Bread, Sullivan St Bakery, etc) and a chance to win gift cards to local restaurants in the costume contest. Participants should sign up in advance here.

We know Hell’s Kitchen is starved of park space, but from May you can take a short walk to Lincoln Center and enjoy 14,000 square feet of grass in their plaza. Learn about the lawn…

We went for a sunset beer at the Classic Car Club to get a view of how the demolition and transformation of the NYPD Tow Pound was coming along. While there, we found out that the Club was also under threat and as the bulldozers moved in, the car club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a “defensive move” to preserve its space on the west side pier. Read more…

Tom D’Angora is a producer and activist. During the pandemic, he and his husband, Michael, with the help of friend Tim Guinee, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to save places like the West Bank Cafe and Birdland. This weekend he is turning his fundraising and production skills to save the York Theatre (with the help of other friends like Hillary Clinton). Here’s why Tom’s NEVER leaving Hell’s Kitchen…

The train has arrived at W51st Street. Dolly Varden cocktail bar looks amazing with its new outdoor dining space. All aboard…

NYPD and FDNY rushed to the Hudson River on Thursday to pull a man from the water who was clinging to the dock at the Manhattan Community Boathouse at Pier 96.

Much of the week was spent in conversation with local business owners. The only thing different from normal conversations is that the “have you had your second vaccination” preamble is followed by similar cross-questioning around PPP applications/forgiveness, the RESTAURANT Act and Shuttered Venue Grants.

I sat with Vlada Von Shats at the Russian Samovar and chatted about the slow return of business. The restaurant is filled with three generations of New York history. Baryshnikov dated SJP in “Sex and the City” there. Forbes says that it “is as much a nostalgia trip as a fine Russian restaurant.” They are getting busier. Her daughter Sasha is innovating with a “ghost” kitchen venture — McPutins — offering bite-size chicken kievs. There’s a GoFundMe. I’m sure they will stay around and I am looking forward to going back to tell the story of their pandemic survival.

Chef Paul Denamiel has reopened Le Rivage on Restaurant Row. Paul is featured in a video by Alan Goldsher. Alan has been heading to New York restaurants and creating free videos to help their marketing. If you know a neighborhood restaurant that needs a free video, hit Alan up with a DM on Instagram.

We’ll see more reopenings in early May. Expect to see Suzy Darling’s Pocket Bars and Pat Hughes’s Scruffy Duffy’s return to the neighborhood. Let’s hope Pat can still find time to create his cartoon videos when he’s got two bars open on 10th Avenue.

What we’ve been reading

Is convenience destroying us? (Intelligencer)

If you’re planning some weekend birdwatching, these are the spots to visit in NYC. (6sqft)

High Line’s new art is… a Drone. (Patch)

Getting customers to leave is a pandemic problem. (Grub Street)

Our gorgeous friend George Hahn has Sunday plans. (New York Times)

Freeze Frame

It’s been a week of April showers. This was the view over Hell’s Kitchen and the Hudson River last night as we got a watering! It’s looking fair for the weekend. Enjoy…