The Pocket Bar owner, Suzy Darling, talked about the tragedy of losing her dad to COVID during the holidays, as she accepted the winning prize in the Hell’s Kitchen Takeout Challenge (HKTC).

Suzy Darling, and her dad, Ron, who passed away from COVID during the holidays.

“I’m completely humbled by this acknowledgment. Thank you Holly-Anne and Marisa for this opportunity that you have created,” she said. “I’m going to give credit to my dad, Ron Darling, for the tenacity and charisma that helped create The Pocket Bar. And thank you to all the amazing people who come to our bars.”

Suzy was top among over 90 local businesses nominated in the HKTC, organized by Holly-Anne Devlin and Marisa Redanty from the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee (HKNAC). She receives a $1,000 grant and will get a package of marketing support from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

The Pocket Bar and Back Pocket Bar went into hibernation in mid-December after the ban on indoor dining came into place — promising to come back when indoor capacity returns to at least 50%. At that time, Suzy said she was “relieved!”, explaining that this “has been the absolute most important work we have ever done, being a safe haven for the emotional devastation of this neighborhood during this pandemic. But it has been pure torture financially as a business to white-knuckle this storm. We will close and take a deep breath. We remain grateful for the generosity of what I believe to be ‘the best patrons in the world’ who got us to this point. And we are incredibly optimistic about the future.”

Suzy Darling — owner of The Pocket Bar. Photo: Jon Buckle.

During the holidays, her father, Ron Darling, died of COVID in Colorado after a period in intensive care.

The competition had more than 1,200 locals looking to support small businesses in Hell’s Kitchen. The second prize went to Nicki Cerutti and Luisa Lindheimer from Domus, who will receive a grant of $500. They told us: “We are both surprised and thrilled to receive this grant, which is going to be very helpful, particularly at this time of the year. Thank you to the sponsors and to the people from the community that voted for us: your support is what keeps us going day after day! We feel your love!”

Nicki and Luisa photographed in December 2018.

Runners up were Daniele Kucera from Etcetera Etcetera and Steve Olsen from West Bank Cafe. Their grant was $250 each, but Steve graciously offered to give his winnings to Etcetera Etcetera, as a successful GoFundMe has financially supported his business.

Daniele told us: “This was unexpected and I am humbled by the vote. Every penny counts these days. I have been in touch with Steve to thank him for his generosity!”

Daniele with the team at Etcetera Etcetera.

Locals who took part in the voting also won prizes — including a virtual coffee with Comedian Lewis Black and gift cards.

Holly-Anne told us: “Small businesses are not just held up by the buildings that they’re housed in but by thousands of individuals — and each of them needs support. Let’s remember them moving forward and do what we can to support these workers.”

She added that HKNAC would continue to host as many of these promotions as possible — “Perhaps the next one will be an Adopt An Artist challenge in a fun, community way!  Be on the lookout for more grants, prizes, and celebrations of what makes Hell’s Kitchen STRONG!”

The awards were supported by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Times Square Alliance, Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, and Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

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1 Comment

  1. This is great. I am sure all the entrance were highly qualified. I know Suzy Darling and what she’s done at Pocket Bar in Back Pocket Bar is extraordinary. She is the quintessential sharp, savvy, community-minded and fun, compassionate, thoughtful, warm and generous human who happens to be a business person. A winner in so many ways.

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