Radio broadcaster Steve Warren arrived in New York in the 1970s and has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since 1999 — you’ll often find him food shopping or eating out on 9th Avenue! This is Steve’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I moved here in 1971. I took a few radio jobs that took me away from NYC for a few years at a time (to LA, Tampa, San Antonio, Dayton, Albany), but I always gravitated back and usually kept a phone number or mail address in my absence
What was your first job? What do you do now?
When I was 16 I was a playground supervisor in Indiana. Ever since then, I’ve been engaged in some sort of radio broadcasting endeavor. This includes DJ, show host, program director, consultant, producer, author, guest speaker. I was a radio personality on popular New York music radio stations WNBC, WNEW, and Country radio stations WHN, WKHK, and WYNY, and more recently Country Music Program Director for Sirius Satellite Radio. Currently, I am the Host Producer of The Country Oldies Show — three hours weekly on local radio stations throughout the USA and Canada, which you can find on countryoldiesshow.com. I am also the Executive Producer for Chinamerica Radio — a 24/7 Streaming Chinese Pop Music USA and Internationally. chinamericaradio.com
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
In 1973, I was hired by Ruth Meyer to be the Music Director for WHN Radio, which had just premiered a new Country Music format. That was 50 years ago and I’d have to say that my favorite minutes would fall into multiple categories, professional, personal, artistic, experiential and each had special meaning in its own way.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I’ve lived here since September 1999, but long before that when I lived in other parts of NYC, including Upper West Side and Sunnyside Queens, I always came shopping here along 9th Avenue. It’s always been a “food” street — not just restaurants, but small shops for meats, vegetables, fish, bread and various take out choices.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I make people smile.
What else should we know about you?
I turned from doing things professionally to teaching things professionally. I always thought it was my responsibility to give back…or pass on what I had learned. I enjoy hosting and entertaining and cooking on a regular basis.
Steven’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Joe Allen — 326 W46th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
I was taken there on my first visit to NYC in 1968. I still stop in once in a while. All the posters on the walls featuring mega-theatre and film stars are posters from huge flops they were in, proving it’s never too big to fail. A Manhattan from the bar and some black bean soup get me started. I enjoyed seeing the scenes in the Broadway Musical Applause, allegedly staged amid the brick arches at Joe Allen. At one time there was a Joe Allen in Los Angeles and in London, both of which I visited — and both had the iconic brick arches.
Chez Joséphine — 414 W42nd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Never had a bad meal here. It’s a go-to place when I have guests in town. In fact, many of my repeat houseguests request to put it on their to-do list when in NYC. I miss Jean-Claude, who seemed to fit right in the decor and ambiance and enjoyed seating us in the window. I especially enjoy the live piano on certain nights.
A Collective of Past Favorites
Not to be indecisive, but in my 24 years here, so many places have come and gone, many would have been a favorite place at the time and would have made me happy for multiple reasons. The number of restaurants, food shops, and stores that have come and gone since I moved-in here in 1999 is astonishing and at many of those places, I shared experiences with friends and family. For example, the Bus Stop Diner at 40th & 9th with a fun, gay server everyone called Daisy. The original Japanese restaurant at 43rd & 9th (now the Plaza Deli), was next door to a little Korean veggie market with fresh homemade Tofu (now the Vivi Bubble Tea). In the same block was the original Kashkaval Cheese store that became a Lenwich and most recently ElCartel, now gone. The little coffee/breakfast spot in the Film Center lobby run by an older couple for many years was a regular breakfast stop, now a JuicePress. There was also a large sit-down Cantonese place in the upper 40s (I think Cottage Inn) for good, cheap Chinese.
Clinton Community Garden — 434 W48th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
It’s such a nice escape in the middle of all the madness, so close to Times Square. I served on the Steering Committee and was Chairman for a few years. But the garden itself and some of the people I’ve met there have enhanced my HK experience. I snag a deli sandwich and have lunch there on a weekday, when no one is there. I still have a plot for my homegrown herbs and peppers.
@Nine Thai — 592 9th Avenue (bw W42/43rd St)
I’ve been patronizing this place more recently. There has always been a selection of Thai places along 9th. The food here is good, I usually get the red curry with shrimp. The decor looks like a drag queen’s jewel box exploded, and that works in HK.
It’s just there, so close. So historical. Cruise ships, tour boats, kayakers, ducks, seagulls.
Esposito’s Meat Market — 500 9th Avenue (corner of W38th St)
It’s still nice to have a local meat market where I can actually discuss what I need for each meal and review the choices.
Arriba Arriba — 762 9th Avenue (corner of W51st St)
One of the few places that’s been here for the duration of my residency in HK. Food is always true to Tex-Mex tradition (I lived in San Antonio for five years). It’s noisy and festive. One time I had a deaf Vietnamese friend visiting from Boston and took him there. I held his hand to touch the wall. He could feel the vibrations of the room and the noise of the guests and he smiled in acknowledgement.
Mama Mia 44SW — 621 9th Avenue (corner of W44th St)
In 1971, the Schiattarella family opened a pizza shop at 44th & 9th, now known as Mamma Mia 44SW. That was the same year I first moved to NYC and even in those days I ventured from my apartment at 101st & Riverside down to 9th Avenue for the cheap meals and Mom & Pop food stores. In 2021, they celebrated their 50th year in NYC and so did I. Never had a bad meal there and the tiramisu is exceptional.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I so enjoy living here and having all of NYC at my disposal, anytime, any season. I’m a bit of a homebody and my all-time favorite place is my apartment and the comfort and experiences it has provided for 24 years. I host visitors from out of town. I host annual holiday events. I do some of my best work and plan all my projects, travels, business activities and creative output from the environment I call home.
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You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.