Iconic New York frankfurter hut Papaya Dog, a 91-year-old staple of the city, will be moving across the street after a developer purchased its squat building on the Upper West Side.
The hot dog stand — which has been located on East 86th Street and Third Avenue since 1932 — will move directly across the street to a new location at 1535 Third Avenue, according to the local blog Uppereastsite.com.
Fans of the iconic hotdog hut feared its fate was sealed after developer Extell Development and its founder Gary Barnett purchased its longtime home for $21 million in 2021 and filed plans to have it demolished during 2022 to make way for a new luxury tower.
Papaya King had been in litigation with its previous landlord since 2020 over alleged unpaid rent, according to reports, with its former landlord accusing its current owner of breaking into the storefront and operating the store illegally after its lease was terminated.
The move across the street is currently underway, according to Uppereastsite, with the iconic Papaya King neon sign already relocated across the street to the new storefront, which was formerly home to a location of the now-bankrupt sporting goods chain Modell’s.
The stand, which was the first to come up with the unlikely combination of hot dogs and fruit juice that took New York’s fast food ecosystem by storm during the 20th century, was founded by Constantine “Gus” Poulos in the early 1930’s, originally as just a fruit stand. But the influence of the neighborhoods predominately German immigrants inspired them to start selling grilled frankfurters as well.
The success of the business inspired many copycats, such as Grays Papaya, Papaya Dog, Papaya Heaven, Papaya Palace and Mike’s Papaya.
In 1997 the franchise rights were sold to a group of investors, and new locations were opened across the country including in Las Vegas and Los Angeles — neither of which were open for long.
Perhaps the most iconic moment of brand recognition for Papaya King came during a 1993 episode of Seinfeld, wherein Kramer shirks his line-holding duties outside a movie theatre to run across the street for a Papaya King dog, instead of settling for a movie theatre hot dog.
“I don’t want a movie hot dog,” he says when confronted by the character George Costanza. “I want a Papaya King hot dog!”