It may be several months before one can say for sure that New York City has survived the pandemic of 2020 unscathed but a huge step in that direction is being taken with the resurgence of Restaurant Row. Located on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Hell’s Kitchen, the Row is closed to traffic as pedestrians can take their time choosing from more than twenty different bars and restaurants, featuring everything from Japanese to French to Italian to Burgers.
While the city waits for Broadway to open up full steam again the eateries on Restaurant Row are reaping a surprising dividend. Normally the rush would be to get in and get out again so as not to miss the opening curtain but with the majority of the theaters still closed patrons are not in anywhere near as big a rush to finish their meals. Thus, a restaurant which normally saw a lull from 7:45 to 10pm is now crowded from the time they open to the time they lock up. What’s more, the outside dining sections which were put up as ‘temporary measures’ when customers could not go into the actual buildings have remained open, giving the restaurant owners even more tables and more business. (Take note – Proof of vaccination is required at all NYC restaurants)
And, of course, since this is right in the middle of the theater district, there has to be music. Popular, long standing establishments such as Don’t Tell Mama and Swing 46 provide live tunes, not only to their patrons but to the rest of those just passing by. In fact, many Broadway stars who were left adrift when their shows closed in 2020 can often be found honing their craft belting out songs at these houses while they wait for the theaters to re-open.
As we head into the fall of 2021 there are still a ton of questions to be answered here in the Big Apple. Will places like Little Italy, Central Park and the South Street Seaport regain their crowds? Will the New York sports stadiums experience their fans doing a mighty wave or merely a ripple? When Broadway finally lights up the Big White Way will the audiences follow? These remain to be seen but right now one thing is certain. Open the restaurants and the Big Apple is ready to dine. Covid or no covid.
All photos by T. Sportiello