The New York dining world lost a little piece of its soul yesterday with the shuttering of Gray's Papaya on Sixth Avenue. Bedford + Bowery chatted with general manager Romy Villanueva who hinted that the cheap eats destination closed because of a rent hike. Now, there's only one Gray's left in NYC — the Upper West Side original — although word on the street is that owner Nicholas Gray is looking for a new location.
Yesterday afternoon, Eater rushed to the freshly-shuttered restaurant to scope out the scene. Here are some reactions from neighbors and passersby on Sixth Avenue:
[The interior, gutted by Layla Khabiri]
Here are some reactions from passersby at around 6 p.m.:
"I'm shocked. I've never seen the place closed. The rent must have really gone up."- John J
"I'm surprised. They were always busy. They must have jacked the rent up to where they couldn't afford it. It was open at 6 p.m. yesterday. People have been coming in all day asking what happened. So bizarre. It's a neighborhood landmark." -Tom V. of Culture
"It was being gutted at 11:30 this morning. It was so busy, especially during the summer. This [closure] is going to be tough on cops. Everyone. Our staff too." -Jason B. of neighboring Natural Market
"I've been going there from when I was sixteen to when I was 43. I remember buying franks for 50 cents. Now it's $2. Thank Bloomberg. I just came out of the train to get slices, because they're better there than over here and there was no sign, nothing. Sad. I was just there yesterday." -Maurice W. at neighboring pizza shop
[Photo by Robert Sietsema]
It is perhaps also worth noting that the chicken restaurant next door also closed recently, and so did the hat store on the other side. An Eater source whispers that the chicken restaurant might become a new location of Liquiteria, but there's still no word yet on what will take over the Gray's space. Stay tuned for more remembrances of Gray's throughout the day, and if you have a memory that you'd like to share, send it to the tipline.
— Reporting by Layla Khabiri.