The Gray's Papaya at 6th Avenue and 8th Street has closed. Eater reported yesterday that the beloved hot dog haunt has been demolished inside and the sign taken down. The details of the closure are still unknown. There's talk of "just renovating," and other talk of rent hikes and a possible move.
Update: The Voice talked to Mr. Gray, who confirmed the closure was due to a massive rent hike. He said, "They wanted to raise my rent to $50,000 from $30,000."
Founded in 1972 (0r 73) when Nicholas (or Paul) Gray broke away from the Papaya King, Gray's once had a few locations around town, including an outpost on 8th Avenue in the 30s that shuttered in 2011 due to rent troubles.
The 8th Street papaya and dog outfit was favored by celebrities and junkies, late-night boozers, the broke, the hungry, the everyone. It was a great spot to grab a quick bite and eat it at the window, looking out at the world.
As Gothamist pointed out, there's only one Gray's Papaya left standing, at Broadway and 72nd. "When you're hungry, or broke, or just in a hurry!"
As Robert Sietsema put it today: "A city is defined by its hot dogs, and Gray's exhibited the real New York terroir... The disappearance of such a
well-known eatery — and a bargain one at that —diminishes our city
immeasurably. And the inevitable appearance of a franchise restaurant in
its place (see if I'm not right) makes New York that much more like
every other city in the country."
Here's a lovely old shot of the original Gray's on Broadway, circa 1972:
Justin Langsner / LaSalle Sign Corp, via NY Neon