Katie Slade photographed at VERGE in Brooklyn, NYC on October 4th, 2017
Photograph: Nicole Fara Silver

What’s it like working the graveyard shift in NYC?

Late-night workers spill the beans on being on the clock while the rest of the city is fast asleep


While you’re curled up in bed (with a slice from the 24-hour pizza joint on your block), these Gothamites are putting in the hours in everywhere from The Bronx to Chelsea. Not surprisingly, their late-night jobs have led them to encounter some pretty strange and unique things. Meet four people who are the reason NYC will always be known as “the city that never sleeps.”

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to 24-hour NYC

Photographs: Nicole Fara Silver

Late-night workers

The fishmonger 2.0
Jody Meade, founder of Fultonfishmarket.com

There’s something fishy about Jody Meade’s commute: He drives from his Manhattan apartment to the Bronx in—sigh—less than 10 minutes. As the entrepreneur responsible for bringing the more than 200-year-old Fulton Fish Market (800 Food Center Dr, Bronx; fultonfishmarket.com) into the digital age, this onetime Zagat employee and Upper East Side denizen typically rolls into the office around 1am. (Workers at the legendary emporium, which moved from downtown to a 400,000-square-foot facility in Hunts Point in 2005, start arriving at 10pm.) The 30-year-old stays at the windowless market, where he oversees e-commerce and online deliveries, and scarfs down his hybrid brunch-dinner, of, you guessed it, fish (and maybe some veggies and pasta) before heading home. “You spend your whole life going to bed at a certain time—you just never get used to this unique schedule,” says Meade. And while going to work when people are still out for the night is a challenge, he says, the end results hardly stink. “We have to do it to get the freshest fish in the world on airplanes by 4am.”—Melissa Kravitz

The emergency veterinarian
Katie Slade, staff doctor at Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group (VERG)

When you work the night shift at a veterinary practice, your job is a cross between detective and therapist. Senses are heightened thanks to ungodly amounts of coffee, and you’re fighting both sleep deprivation and some serious FOMO. At least that’s according to Katie Slade, whose 12-hour shifts typically start at either 8pm or 2pm at VERG Brooklyn (196 Fourth Ave; 718-522-9400, verg-brooklyn.com), a 24/7 emergency practice specializing in surgery, cardiology and neurology. “Going to work on weekends, I’ll see people sitting outside for dinner,” she says, “and when I’m going home they’ll be lined up for brunch.” But the adage still applies when it comes to the four-legged: Nothing good happens after 4am. Tact is crucial when sharing one frequent late-night diagnosis: Your pet found your stash—and got stoned. When a 16-year-old and his mom recently brought in a woozy, wobbly dog, “I mentioned it, and his face just went red.” Owners are often clueless about their pooch’s pot intake, but Slade has good news for them: “Marijuana toxicity is one of my favorite things. I just like being able to say, ‘Congratulations, he’s going to be normal in 12 hours!’ ”—Giulia Pines


The hot-spot handler
Jonathan Parrilla, overnight manager at Cafeteria

A 24-hour joint sees its share of drunks. Just ask Jonathan Parrilla. “Typically, people have had a couple drinks and want to continue the party,” says Parrilla, who oversees the midnight-to-8am shift at Chelsea’s swanky, modern all-night eatery Cafeteria (119 Seventh Ave; 646-791-7908, cafeteriagroup.com). But don’t let the loud music and low lighting here fool you. “It’s a restaurant, not a club,” he insists. Postgame athletes, celebs, DJs and club kids are all part of the regular cast of characters. And while some of the after–Le Bain crowd can cause trouble—revelers from that club and elsewhere have been known to be kicked out by Cafeteria security—famous faces are “the best guests” he says. The top one in Parrilla’s decade-plus of working the night shift? The diva of divas, Mariah friggin’ Carey. “She came in after a concert,” he says. “We sat her and she just started singing.”—MK

The sisters 
The nuns of Corpus Christi Monastery

Church bells ring out at 5:30 across Longwood Avenue in the South Bronx, alerting the Dominican sisters of Corpus Christi Monastery (1230 Lafayette Ave, Bronx; opbronx.org) that it is time for early-morning prayer. This is how the day begins for the 10 nuns who have given up the bustle of ordinary life to follow a higher calling of prayer and contemplation. Wearing long white habits, they walk in procession from their bare-bones living quarters to the chapel for the first prayer service of the day. They chant psalms, listen to Bible readings and pray for others. “Every day, I pray for everyone—for my sisters, relatives, people in the neighborhood, the people in our city and the whole world,” says Sister Mary, pictured. A nun for 35 years, she wakes up before the bells chime. “Usually, I get up at 4:30am,” she says. “It’s a very quiet, peaceful time. You can really feel the presence of God with you.”—Belle Hann

Need that early morning caffeine boost?

  • Cafés

New York's hot chocolate revival can be traced back to City Bakery more than 20 years ago, but even though that bakery bastion shuttered in 2019, the scene is still piping hot. One reason? Baristas. A great coffee shop is often a great hot chocolate spot—that latte-quality milk can make all the difference when you want a cocoa to lift your spirits when battling the brutal cold.

But whether you get it from your corner Joe joint, one of the city's best bakeries, or from a bar as a warming hot cocktail, hot chocolate in NYC has never been better. There are so many high-quality options in this city that you could go on a season-long cocoa crawl, and try everything from classic cups to more creative expressions. (Cardamom almond milk hot chocolate, anyone?)

Fancy techniques aside, the best cocoas are comforting—there's a reason why hot chocolate is one of the defining flavors of childhood.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best restaurants in NYC

  • Travel

The perfect winter getaway from NYC requires a few things: hot chocolate, a crackling fireplace, wool sweaters and a cozy cabin to cuddle up in. Whether you need lodging at ski resorts near NYC or somewhere rustic chic for a girls’ weekend, this list of cabins near NYC on Airbnb has got you covered. After just a few hours of driving, you could be snuggling in a chalet in the Pocono Mountains, relaxing in a geodesic dome in upstate New York or sipping a hot toddy in a trendy container cabin in the Catskills. No matter where you choose to go, escaping the city to a snow-covered wonderland has to be one of the top things to do in the winter.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to weekend getaways from NYC

Note: please check the latest travel guidance before booking your trip.

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