Philly cheesesteak fans will have fewer spots to secure a hoagie after Shorty’s Cheesesteaks shuttered its New York outposts, including its location in Hell’s Kitchen.
The popular cheesesteak counter cafe located on 9th Avenue between W43rd and W44th Street was closed as of Friday morning. W42ST received reports of a text message notice of the closure to employees from manager on behalf of Shorty’s ownership. “I’m sorry for the short notice,” read the announcement. “They just told me this today…I’m just doing what they told me to do.” Employees were informed that the closure was immediate and their checks would be mailed to the address on file. There was no answer at the phone numbers listed for Shorty’s Hell’s Kitchen, 23rd Street or the Lower East Side at the time of publication, and the restaurant had been removed from online delivery platforms. We have reached out to the Shorty’s team for more details on the closure and will update this if we hear back.
Shorty’s is the latest closure on a block that now contains four empty storefronts side-by-side, including the erstwhile Sushiva sushi cafe, the popular Jay Cleaners and the Duane Reade/Walgreens pharmacy run by Steve Kaufman and Enza Santoro that was shuttered at the end of 2021. After several years of COVID-19-related shutdowns, rising commercial rents and inconsistent tourism numbers, the neighborhood has struggled to maintain full blocks of open businesses, with over 200 empty storefronts haunting the neighborhood at any given time.
First opened on 9th Avenue in 2006, Shorty’s was originally founded by Evan Stein, a Philadelphia native and Lehigh University grad who brought authentic cheesesteaks to New York City. “You could get almost any kind of cuisine in Manhattan, but you couldn’t get a good Philly cheesesteak,” he told W42ST. “I had this idea to open up an authentic Philly cheesesteak shop, and it took on a life of its own.”
Evan left Shorty’s in 2019, and went on to strike out on his own in Hell’s Kitchen at 9th Avenue’s Olde City Cheesesteaks in 2023, launching this February not far from his previous restaurants. When reached about the closure he told W42ST that he wanted to focus entirely on his new venture, Evan said, and he would be happy to welcome former Shorty’s employees to Olde City. Leaving Shorty’s was “an unfortunate experience,” said Evan, “but I’ve moved on and my focus has been on Olde City,” he added. “That said, if there is an opportunity to reunite with some of the guys that put in hard work back in the day, that would be great.”
He added that it was hard to see Shorty’s fold, but he hoped staff and customers could find solace in the community he’s created at Olde City. “I built Shorty’s and now for it to be out — it’s a weird feeling,” said Evan. “But I’m all in at Olde City.” In addition to a new location opening in Chelsea, the Hell’s Kitchen outpost is thriving, Evan told us. “We just want to be known as the best (and now only) spot to get authentic Philly-style food and watch games in the city.”