Artist Commits to Drawing Every Restaurant in New York City

A restaurant storefront located in New York City. There's a neon sign out front that reads, "breakfast, lunch, dinner."

Photo credit: Shutterstock

So far, John Donohue has over 100 drawings on his website, Each one is a simple line illustration, done in twenty minutes or so, of restaurants in New York City. The end-goal of the project (which he calls “intentionally hyperbolic”) is to draw, well, all the restaurants in New York City.

It is mathematically possible to visit all of them in under a year by spending 20 minutes at a stop,” he says on his site. “Luckily, it takes me almost exactly 20 minutes to draw the façade of each place, working strictly from life, in ink (without a pencil or erasing anything). So in a perfect world, I’ll be done in twelve months.

“Of course, that doesn’t take into account openings and closings, travel between each one, sleep, work, outside responsibilities, and the coloring I do, so I expect if I’d like to, I could keep at this for the rest of my life. We’ll see how it goes.”

Donohue, who has also been an editor and cartoonist at The New Yorker, an anthologist, and a cooking blogger, began drawing restaurants in January 2017. Since then, the project has largely taken off in the form of commissions. Visitors attracted to his site by word-of-mouth nominate their favorite eateries, past or present. Donohue sketches each from life, if he can, in a gesture-sketch sort of sense.

“I think of the pictures as in some ways Google Earth shots—this is in a moment in time,” he said in an interview with AMNY. His illustrations are quick impressions, evocative in their light detailing, but instantly recognizable to anyone who knows the restaurant in question.

A show featuring his work at the bookstore powerHouse on 8th was just extended to September, featuring both originals and signed prints for sale. It’s certainly worth taking a look at given his growing popularity in the New York art scene.


About Alex Holt

I am a local artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love art, design, books, photography, gardening and blogging.
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