Longtime Hell’s Kitchen Restaurateurs Take Over Former Down The Road Space

The new space offers all-day breakfast and a swanky cocktail lounge at night.
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Though the past three years have dealt a significant blow to Hell’s Kitchen restaurant operators, it is finally beginning to feel like the neighborhood has once again come to life. While the neighborhood has seen an onslaught of unfortunate closures in recent history, many of those owners are poised to find success this year with exciting new concepts.

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One such concept coming to Hell’s Kitchen later this year is Two Guys & Tom, a new bar and lounge from owners John Dempsey and Brandon Duff. John Dempsey is a veteran restaurateur who has been operating in Hell’s Kitchen for decades and has brought to life recognizable concepts like El Centro, ‘Ritas, Hell’s Kitchen, and B- Side Pizza. But Dempsey’s most famous restaurant certainly has to be VYNL, a Hell’s Kitchen icon that operated for nearly 30 years and was known for its eclectic design as well as attracting celebrity clientele like Michael Jackson and Beyonce.

Brandon Duff, meawhile, is an artist and cocktail expert who has trained at some of the most prestigious NYC restaurants. He previously served as Head Bartender at the two-Michelin-starred Lounge at Atera, and today he runs As Is, a popular craft beer bar and running club that has cultivated a reputation as the go-to hang out for NYC’s many runners. Now, it appears that the two have partnered up to bring a brand new concept to Hell’s Kitchen at 683 Ninth Avenue.

Currently operating under the name Two Guys & Tom, John describes his new concept as an “upscale and moderately priced venue that focuses on coffee and espresso based drinks with all day breakfast with a focus on artisanal egg sandwiches.” At night though, the restaurant will transform into a vibrant cocktail lounge (with the help of Mr. Duff of course) while continuing to serve its all day breakfast menu. A tentative menu for the restaurant lists options like sausage, egg & cheese; egg salad; shakshuka; katsu burgers; fried chicken; and potato latkes.

Moving into the space at 683 Ninth Avenue, Two Guys & Tom will be replacing Down The Road, a popular sports bar in the neighborhood. These is expected to be able to accommodate about 52 guests, between the interior tables and stand-up bar. John is currently meeting with the community board to acquire a full liquor license for the space and is proposing operating hours of 7:30 AM – 12:00 AM Sunday through Tuesday, and 7:30 AM – 1:30 AM Wednesday through Saturday. The location has hosted numerous fully licensed operations in the past, so it seems unlikely that the board will try to challenge their license application. While the restaurant is still too early into development to have its own online presence, you can visit some of John’s other restaurants like El Centro, which is still going strong today.

Jake Rogers

Jake Rogers

Jake Rogers is an author and playwright based out of Brooklyn, New York. A lively performer who is deeply passionate about history and literature, outside of his reporting he also produces short films and plays with his theatre troupe, the LSTC. He is currently producing a web series about a butterfly and moth who are roommates that will be released later in the year.
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