What’s the story behind Fresh From Hell?
My partner, Gabriel, and I have been living in Hell’s Kitchen for the past 15 years. We love it here – it’s such a vibrant neighborhood, quintessentially NYC, gritty and with a unique personality. We always wanted to open our own place, so when the opportunity presented itself, we grabbed it, making sure the name was not only catchy enough, but part of the story.
But you and Gabriel have more going on than juicing and salads – what are your “day jobs”?
Well, I’m a real estate salesperson, so my day job keeps me busy. I just closed on a multi-million dollar building in TriBeCa and I’m taking care of another big listing on W53rd St. I also leased a retail space to a restaurant on 9th Ave - 53rd St, and I have four buildings in Hell’s Kitchen that I’m the exclusive rental agent for. So, yes, never a dull moment.
My partner is a creative director He also has his own design firm, Hyperdom Multimedia. He’s all about branding and, naturally, he’s behind the visual identity of the store. Our backgrounds are different, and I think that’s why we make a great team.
You guys must be pretty healthy – do you walk the walk?
Yes, I do walk the walk. Knowledge is power and, as I get older, the better my health has become. Walking this earth for over 50 years has taught me many things about food, health, exercise. The first thing I do every morning is drink a tall glass of room temperature water with half a lemon squeezed in. Then I extract juice from various veggies and fruits; I enjoy coming up with different combinations that are both delicious and nutritious. After that, I usually prepare oatmeal or yoghurt with fresh fruit.
When you come to Fresh From Hell, you see what I eat. Everything on the menu is what I’ve been eating at home for the past 10 years or more.
Plus, working and living in Hell’s Kitchen allows me to walk almost everywhere, which is part of my exercise, along with going to the gym a couple times a week and playing tennis with Gabriel.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
My single most favorite thing on the menu would be the eggplant caponata. I have a special Sicilian recipe with my own little twist. This dish has become so popular that we run out almost every day. It takes the most time and love to make, but it’s well worth it.
What’s the most common request from customers?
Gluten-free bread. So much so that we’ve added it to our sandwich line-up.
Summer’s coming up and the W42ST team needs to look great on the beach – what can help us get there?
For sure you want to start out with the Body Cleanser juice in the morning. A green smoothie like Green Machine is also high in fibers and allows your body to eliminate toxins, promoting clear, radiant skin just in time for the summer. The dark, leafy greens are a rich source of healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Great skin definitely starts with the green! Another healthy choice in the morning is the Creamy Coconut Oatmeal. This is a hearty, fat-burning breakfast with lots of fresh fruit. For lunch I’d recommend our mixed greens salad with three of our toppings, like beets, three bean, and lentils.
Have you had any customers from the Broadway community?
Over 50% of our customers are from the Broadway community. They’re so supportive – a leading actress of a top show even gave us a tour of the theater – it was magical. We actually came up with a discount for anyone who works in the Broadway theater community, on or off the stage. They make our lives better with their work and we wanted to show our appreciation.
Where else do you hang out in the hood?
We like the rooftop at Ink 48 if we’re meeting friends for a drink. For dinner, we like Briciola on W51st St - 8th/9th Ave, and Mercato on W39th St - 8th/9th Ave, both small, good food and good people – you can’t beat that combination. And, of course, Boxers and Therapy – it is Hell’s Kitchen after all!
Fresh From Hell
326 W47th St - 8th/9th Ave
A version of this interview first appeared in the June 2016 issue of W42ST magazine. Stay in touch with W42ST and be first to read stories like this when you receive our daily newsletter. Join the conversation at w42st.com.