Gray's Papaya: One is the Onliest Number

Categories: 'Aw'

grays_digitizedchaos.jpg
flickr/digitizedchaos
And then there was one. Yesterday, the city shed a meaty tear as the Greenwich Village location of Gray's Papaya (402 Sixth Avenue) went down for the count. With a sole operation (on Broadway at 72nd) remaining to carry the torch, the closure marks a devastating blow to Big Apple dining culture.

Reached at his residence, owner Nicholas Gray confirms reports of a rent hike as the culprit for shutting down after 28 years of business. "They wanted to raise my rent to $50,000 from $30,000," he stated, adding that he plans to relocate as soon as he finds a suitable space. "We're always looking for corners, but they're hard to find." Of course they're hard to find -- look at that rent increase!

Gray's was the baby of ex-Papaya King partner Gray, who opened the original location on the corner of Broadway and West 72nd Street in 1973, when two hot dogs and a drink cost approximately a dollar. Even though the hot dog has fallen out of fashion somewhat as a processed meat, every Gray's location I've ever visited has had characters hunched over its counters, ignoring the world around them as they munched away at all times of day and night.

Papaya King may have been the original, but as it expanded to Clifton, New Jersey, and Hollywood (sister cities, or so I hear), Gray's felt like the more authentic of the two, a scrappy local underdog (pun intended) to Papaya King's more imperialist tendencies. This is not to discredit Papaya King, whose original location is a must for any lover of food who finds himself in this city -- if only to compare it to Gray's across town.

Gray's has had a lasting significance for me; its existence was brought to my attention as a story told to me by my father, in which an acquaintance of my parents once ate eight hot dogs in a single sitting. This was before the days of competitive eating, and to my young, malleable mind, it seemed an unattainable number. Later in life, I used the (now-shuttered) 37th Street branch of Gray's as a kind of "foodie" test to see if my better half was up to the task of dealing with whatever kind of horror entails dating me.

Next to pizza, a hot dog may well be the most "New York" food we have on offer, and nearly every carnivorous New Yorker has experienced the pleasures of a snappy frank downed with a frothy fruit drink. Now even our beloved steamed meat purée is threatened by the onslaught of this city's obscene real estate market. If you come across any affordable, good-looking corners, holla in the comments section.

The city's hot dog-hungry hungry masses will thank you.




Location Info

Gray's Papaya

402 6th Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

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71 comments
dianadonato322
dianadonato322

What's with the  "Bloomberg For President" sign in the window? Wealthy people like Bloomberg don't give a fuck about saving cheap places to eat like a Grays Papaya. Bloomy owns a bathtub that costs $13,000.  I have eaten at this Grays many times times but their endorsement of Lord Bloomberg makes me want to boycott it.

Nona Lori Brown Amoruso
Nona Lori Brown Amoruso

First Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue and now this! Dam! Please not another CVS or Dunkin Donuts or Fridays! Enough already!

Ricardo Saboya
Ricardo Saboya

sério??? bora se ver!!! vou numa festa rock hj hehe

Virginia Dimitriou
Virginia Dimitriou

In Hampstead Village, London the rent hikes are ruining us here too - however, one shop which i remember as a clothes shop then became an ice cream parlour then became a mobile home shop and then ----a Charity Shop, So looks like no one can afford the rents unless you are a charity which means the rents drastically go down.

Shawn Elliot
Shawn Elliot

A good location would be Downtown Brooklyn anywhere within 3 square miles of the Brooklyn Nets Arena.

KutKinetic
KutKinetic

@NYNightlife ...2 hot dogs + Papaya shake. ......that special was the epilogue to many a party nite ;-)

Carl LaFong
Carl LaFong

An oasis after late night adventures in the Village! RIP Two dogs and a Piña Colada drink at 3am. Tragic

Mario Vredenburg
Mario Vredenburg

Just ate there & it was delicious as always & affordable. Regular folks are being priced out of the West village & this is just not right. Quickly loosing appeal due to pricing.

Dutty D Comedian
Dutty D Comedian

the old nyc is long gone. its now a mix of disney world and nebraska.

yummyyo
yummyyo

@NYNightlife Gray's Papaya sells inexpensive hot dogs! I guess they're selling A LOT of them!

bbbadsheep
bbbadsheep

Funny I like the Bloomberg for pres sign, He 's the reason their out of business.

retroarama
retroarama

A summer staple at my 1960s family barbeques was the annual hot dog competition not in competitive eating but who made the best  hot dog in NY.

Fierce loyalty and intense competition broke out between Nediks and Nathans fans,deli devotees who preferred Hebrew National and those who swore by Sabretts.Loyalists to Gray's Papaya formed an unlikely alliance with their East Side rival Papaya King both of whom thought it blasphemous to wash down a frank with anything but papaya juice.
http://wp.me/p2qifI-1ue

NYUNightlife
NYUNightlife

@NYNightlife 396 6th avenue (prev Barnes and Noble) could very well be 8th street's next restaurant/club.

Michael Swan
Michael Swan

And the corporate ny shall rise!!!!! So sad.

Zachats
Zachats

@lesster 'tis a sad day, but fingers crossed we get another one soon.

Jena Tumbleson
Jena Tumbleson

The Bloomberg for Prez sign in the window is sad, seeing as his push for gentrification is at least partly behind the massive rent hikes that have closed so many NY icons, now including this Gray's.

EightyTwo
EightyTwo

So I come to NY for the first time...walk up 6th ave and decide Joy Burger will suffice as...eh...Gray's will be there forever :(


5 days later and uptown will now have to satisfy :(

Maria Rosa Ojeda
Maria Rosa Ojeda

I used to eat there all the time and I dont even like hotdogs that much ;(

sinwire
sinwire

@CarlosASevilla not familiar, but this is going on for years, unfortunately, NY is becoming like every other city full of Gaps, H&M, etc.

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

ah dont move it, this place is a classic --

nakamachirabu
nakamachirabu

@EverythingNYC boo hiss sigh. that stretch of 6th AVE continuing into mini-mall transformation.... time to pay a visit to UWS Gray's!

Joyce David
Joyce David

They should move to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn between Parkside & Empire before the rents get crazy here

Mnizzle
Mnizzle

and how.  Breaks my heart every time I return.

bbbadsheep
bbbadsheep

Actually it started with Giuliani.

bbbadsheep
bbbadsheep

@sinwire@CarlosASevillaWell now we have Blasio who will hopefully bring some NYC back to NYC, instead of letting those with the fat pockets control everything.

RADcTION
RADcTION

@bondskew @EverythingNYC put another way: dem weenies aint made from fillet mignon or chuck it the ballz n slop dey mop from abattoir floorz

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