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The Papaya King Comeback Is Over Before it Started

And the landlord is suing the hot dog shop for millions

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Papaya King expansion NYC
The original location of Papaya King.
Eater NY
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

Papaya King, the 90-year-old hot dog institution, was set to be saved from extinction this spring, and move across the street. Now those plans are dead in the water and legal trouble is afoot.

Since 2020, there have been reports of the hot dog royalty being ousted from its location on 86th Street and Third Avenue, due to the building being sold by developers. In April, Upper East Site reported that it was poised to open in a new spot, at 1535 Third Avenue, between East 86th and 87th streets. Nine months later, Google has marked that new location as permanently closed, the phone line is dead, and Papaya King is being sued.

Upper East Site’s report this spring included photos of the new location run by Sajid “Sid” Sohail (who also is reported to be a multi-unit franchisee of spots such as Au Bon Pain). Despite the restaurant appearing ready for customers based on the updated interior, the business remained dark.

This January, the Daily News reported that the shop never opened because the landlord wouldn’t allow Papaya King to install a kitchen hood, essential for the business. The location is now listed for lease.

With the restaurant never having come to fruition, the landlord is suing Sohail for $4.4 million for a breach of contract, claiming it violated the terms of the lease signed in March; failed to maintain a $5 million insurance policy on the premise; and did not open within six months of signing the lease, among other claims.

The lawsuit is several months in the making, with the new location having been served a notice from its new landlord for $39,000 for September rent.

The building that housed the original Papaya King was first sold to developer Extell in 2021 for $21 million, and then was again sold in October to ZD Jasper Realty for $24 million.

The corner spot serving snappy hot dogs and tropical drinks had been a cornerstone of Manhattan lore, which Constantine “Gus” Poulos, originally from Athens, Greece, opened in 1932. Over the years, it spawned several outposts — in Hollywood, St. Mark’s Place, Downtown Brooklyn — but all have since closed.