The Scoop: P.S. Kitchen is a vegan restaurant conveniently located near Times Square in New York City. It offers a unique date experience that doubles as a good deed on behalf of the local community. The eatery donates its profits to charity and hires marginalized people who need help getting back on their feet. P.S. Kitchen is one of the best options for foodies and altruists in the theater district. It’s sure to make couples feel warm and fuzzy on their dates.
P.S. Kitchen is a unique date venue in New York City for many reasons. For one, the restaurant is entirely vegan. It also donates all of its proceeds to charity. What’s more, most of the restaurant’s kitchen staff and waiters come from marginalized backgrounds.
Two philanthropic Wall Street executives founded the restaurant to support the local community and put the public good ahead of profits.
“The founders wanted to run a social business — a restaurant that generates jobs for people and donates the profits to charity. That’s how we came about,” said Jeff LaPadula, P.S. Kitchen’s General Manager.
The restaurant may have high-minded ideals, but its success is rooted in the fresh food in the kitchen. When P.S. Kitchen opened in August 2017, Time Out New York ranked it in a list of the best new restaurants.
“The Midtown West neighborhood is populated with glitzy chains and Broadway theaters, but now, a chic vegan eatery is joining the fray,” according to the write-up. “This antique-inspired sit-down spot is focusing on seasonal, plant-based comfort-food variations like buffalo wings, burgers and pasta, in addition to more elevated dishes like fennel tartine and ginger-rice congee.”
Couples who want to give back on their date nights often choose P.S. Kitchen. Located one block away from Times Square, it’s the perfect precursor to a Broadway show or a night on the town.
The restaurant has a sophisticated look with white walls, wooden tables, and thoughtfully chosen art. There are many tables for two, and the atmosphere is dimly lit, clean, and attractive. Seating is available on the first and second floor, on the outside patio, and at the bar. Couples of all ages are welcome to pull up a seat and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
“It’s a beautiful restaurant. P.S. Kitchen gives you that downtown experience, but it’s in a tourist district,” Jeff told us. “It’s a cool New York restaurant in the heart of the city.”
A Popular Destination With a Humanitarian Focus
P.S. Kitchen takes pride in serving vegan dishes that appeal to meat eaters and omnivores. Most of its diners do not keep a vegetarian diet. Some are just looking for lighter fare or a healthy bite. Some are tourists who don’t realize the menu is all vegan until they sit down. The comfort food is accessible to everyone, yet it’s also surprisingly plant-forward.
P.S. Kitchen has hosted private events for big-name clients, including the New York Knicks, Oprah, and even full Broadway casts. Couples have also booked out the restaurant for a wedding rehearsal dinner or reception.
One of the secrets to P.S. Kitchen’s success is its top-notch kitchen and wait staff. The hiring process for these staff members is central to the restaurant’s mission.
More than 100 marginalized people have worked at the restaurant over the last four years. These staff members were formerly incarcerated, involved in sex trafficking, or victims of domestic violence.
P.S. Kitchen has added its name to a growing list of restaurants that strive to give workers a second chance. The team seeks to hire formerly incarcerated people, who face hiring difficulties after they have served their time.
A 2017 study found that 76% of former convicts reported that it was “very difficult or nearly impossible” to find work. Two-thirds of them remained unemployed or underemployed for five years after leaving prison.
P.S. Kitchen is an equal-opportunity employer that creates jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals, people who have struggled with homelessness, abuse survivors, and others who are struggling to find employment. Such individuals need the work and are often grateful for this chance at a fulfilling life. As a result, they show greater commitment to the job. In fact, formerly incarcerated individuals have a lower turnover rate than the general population of restaurant employees.
P.S. Kitchen has found employees who are hard-working and passionate, and they come from all backgrounds.
The Casual Eatery Is One Block Away From Times Square
P.S. Kitchen embraces a fully vegan menu, meaning that it has no meat, dairy, or other animal byproducts in any of its items. The restaurant offers a variety of options that don’t look or taste vegan at all. For instance, the P.S. Beyond Burger comes on a pretzel bun and can fool the taste buds with its juicy flavors. This is by far the best-selling item on the menu.
“We came to the conclusion that making vegan food that reminds people of their favorites is the way to go. It brings in other types of people. Sometimes vegan restaurants don’t do well if you rely just on vegans and vegetarians to support you,” said Jeff.
Jeff mentioned that most meat eaters aren’t able to tell the difference between a vegan patty and a meat one. That’s especially true when it’s topped with all the usual fixins, including house-made vegan queso, lettuce, and tomato.
Other vegan twists on classic favorites include a lasagna made with herbed tofu ricotta, spinach, vegan meatballs, and homemade marinara; chili cheese fries with Beyond Meat chili and black bean salsa; and buffalo maitake wings with breaded maitake mushrooms served with a choice of sauce.
“Our menu is designed to appeal to the average eater, and that’s how we got a lot of our success,” Jeff told us.
Diners can also order beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, and tea to pair with their vegan meal. Those with a sweet tooth may want to save room for dessert. The vegan desserts include a brownie with cashew caramel and coconut ice cream and a no-dairy cheesecake on a pumpkin seed crust.
P.S. Kitchen Is Returning Full Force After the Pandemic
As with many restaurants, P.S. Kitchen had a tough time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Times Square shut down completely, and the neighborhood is mostly commercial, which meant there were few locals to continue frequenting the establishment.
“New York City was hit hard by COVID. There also aren’t a lot of residents in this area,” Jeff explained. “Tourism, offices, and Broadway — that was a lot of our business. No one was really walking in this neighborhood. You could walk all of Eighth Avenue and only see a couple cars.”
As the city starts to reopen, P.S. Kitchen is recovering and making its way back to normal operation. Jeff told us that the restaurant is currently taking in about 50% revenue it made pre-pandemic. What’s more, P.S. Kitchen rehired 30 of its former employees and is focused on expansion.
“There was such a concern that we wouldn’t survive, but now we feel pretty confident that we’re going to get there. The goal is to get back to where we were, and we feel that we’re on that path,” Jeff told us.
One encouraging sign that P.S. Kitchen is back is the return of private events. Jeff said he recently booked the restaurant’s first 50-person event in over a year. It’s a birthday party. The team is excited to see people return to celebrate life’s milestones and enjoy date nights in one of the most colorful and joyful parts of the city.
“I’m so grateful to be working here. I always loved being a part of this restaurant,” Jeff said.