The Upper East Side eatery that conceived the at first questionable but later beloved pairing of tropical fruit juices and hot dogs is at risk of a potential demolition.
The joint, that even received screen time on a Seinfeld episode, has been gracing the corner of East 86th Street and Third Avenue since the 1940s after Greek immigrant, Gus Poulos, wanted to bring a taste of the tropics to NYC, reports the New York Times.
Such a prime location has warranted the interest of Extell Development, the real estate development company known for its luxury properties like Central Park Tower, who had purchased the $21 million lot where Papaya King resides last year. According to Patch, David Rothstein, an executive vice president at Extell, filed a demolition plan to the one-story building back in June.
“It’s too valuable of a corner to make it a one-story building,” Poulos said, as reported by the New York Times. “It’s like everything else. Everything has to come to an end eventually.”
Though there is no current confirmation whether the closure will occur, the possibility is devastating New Yorkers who have been frequenting the spot for years.
This is not the first time Papaya King has faced possible closure as Imperial Sterling, the joint’s previous landlord, had sued the spot in 2020 following continued operation after a terminated lease.
Since opening, Papaya King has inspired many replicates around the city such as Gray’s Papaya, Papaya Heaven, Chelsea Papaya and Papaya Place. However, only time will tell if the one that started it all will remain where it has been for decades, or if it will fall to new construction.