The sweet aroma of honey-roasted Nuts4Nuts is wafting over to another borough after relocating its long-standing Hell’s Kitchen headquarters to Astoria.
The popular NYC snack vendor has moved its roasting and distribution facility from 610 W46th Street between 11th and 12th Avenue, where they had resided since 1993, to Astoria, Queens, citing property ownership changes as part of landlord Metropolitan Lumber’s bankruptcy takeover. “It was not our call to move,” Nuts4Nuts co-founder Cliff Stanton told W42ST of saying goodbye to their West Side depot. “The property is going to be developed.”
Cliff added that they “had known that this day was coming for a while,” but it had taken some time to find a new building suitable for the honey-roasted nut production mainstay. “It’s a space that’s not easy to find,” he noted. “It’s less of a pushcart commissary and more of a distribution facility.”
Honey-roasted nuts — a sweet and savory New York treat originating out of Argentina and known as Mani Garripanada — first burst on the city’s snack scene in the early 1980s. In 1989, Alejandro “Alex” Rad moved to New York City from Mendoza, Argentina to attend the American Spanish Institute. He spent his weekdays studying and weekends vending his cherished childhood snack before founding Nuts4Nuts (then called Nuts About Nuts) in 1993. Cliff, having started his career in lemonade vending in 1987, linked up with Alejandro in 1995 to form parent company United Snacks as well as rename the honey-roasted nut brand to Nuts4Nuts.
Working against restrictive mobile vending permits established by then-mayor Rudy Giuiliani, Alejandro and Cliff focused their efforts on Central Park, where the two sold lemonade during the warmer months and Nuts4Nuts in the winter. They were successfully able to grow the business to supply nuts to over 100 push carts citywide, become the largest vending operation in Central Park, build a nationwide shipping business and even open an “Authentic NYC Street Food” storefront in 2015, peddling locally produced empanadas and roasted nuts at their W46th Street headquarters.
“When we moved into W46th Street, we were young whippersnappers — we’re a bit more mature now,” laughed Cliff. “Our families got very attached to the place. I had just started a family and our kids really grew up there — it all happened on W46th Street.”
He recalled memories of Fleet Weeks past and serving customers coming to and from the Intrepid Museum, as well as harder memories like watching 9/11 from the Midtown headquarters. “We’ve gone through several mayoral administrations while we were there,” said Cliff, “and I remember back in the day [Hell’s Kitchen] was something of a red light district,” he added. “We’ve been through thick and thin here.”
Cliff told W42ST that he would dearly miss the Hell’s Kitchen community, including many of his former neighbors on 11th Avenue. “We were attached at the hip with Metropolitan Lumber — we have such fun memories of all the staff there and a lot of the local businesses,” he said. “And I’ve lost a little weight now that I’m no longer near Sullivan Street Bakery!”
And while the beloved snack vendor has shipped out of W46th Street, there’s still a possibility that another public-facing Nuts4Nuts store could pop up in Astoria, Cliff told us. “We haven’t disqualified the idea of doing one down the road.”
For now, hungry Hell’s Kitchen residents can still get their fix at one of the brand’s nearby carts, including one frequently stationed at W42nd Street and 9th Avenue. As for Cliff, he said he’ll certainly still be in the neighborhood from time to time to check in on his carts, if not their old headquarters. “We’ll really miss this property terribly,” said Cliff. “It is the end of an era.”