NYC’s Papaya King closing 90-year-old NYC location to move

Papaya King shuttered its iconic hot dog stand on New York City’s Upper East Side last week after 90 years — but it reportedly will reign again.

The venerable venue — whose neon signs had been fixtures on the Northwest corner of East 86th Street and Third Avenue for generations — is reportedly moving to a space across the street at 1535 Third Ave. between East 86th and East 87th Streets.

That’s after Papaya King shuttered its longtime location at 179 E. 86th St. on Friday — a move that frankfurter fiends had dreaded for months, anticipating it spelled the demise of the outfit that introduced the unlikely combination of hot dogs and fruit juices in 1939.

Extell Development, headed by property billionaire Gary Barnett, bought the squat building for $21 million in 2021 and filed plans with the city last year to demolish it to make way for a luxury tower.

The original Papaya King opened at the corner of East 86th Street and Third Avenue in 1932.
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News of Papaya King’s new lease appeared on a sign on the old location’s front door and was first reported by

One of the original restaurant’s neon signs “now hangs above the brown paper used to cover the windows” while workers ready the new space, according to the blog.

Workers told that the restaurant could open within a week as signs and the former countertop was removed from the original space into the new one.

The new space had previously been a Modell’s Sporting Goods store.

Papaya had been in litigation with its former landlord since 2020 over non-payment of rent at its last remaining restaurant, according to reports.

Still, it’s not clear who actually owns Papaya King these days.

Founded by the late Constantine “Gus” Poulus in 1932, Papaya King was taken over by Poulus’ son Peter who opened multiple new eateries and attempted to franchise the business.

It was sold in 1997 to a group of investors and locations opened in Hollywood and Las Vegas, all of which closed shortly thereafter.

A platter of hot dogs.
Papaya King started out selling tropical fruit juices and later added hot dogs to the menus in 1939.
AFP via Getty Images

In 2010, a group of investors and caterer Wayne Rosenbaum bought the business, telling New York magazine at the time that he planned to focus on franchising.

“Papaya King will be here for another 178 years,” Rosenbaum boasted to the publication.

By then it had spawned numerous spinoffs and copycats including Gray’s Papaya, Mike’s Papaya, Papaya Dog, Papaya Heaven, Papaya Paradise and Papaya Place. 

Even Nathan’s Famous muscled into the neighborhood in 1976, opening a location next to the flagship store and igniting a hot dog war that lasted six months until Nathan’s moved away.

A hot dog with relish.
Papaya King is moving to a new location across the street from its original store on Third Avenue.
AFP via Getty Images

But Rosenbaum told The Post on Tuesday he has not been involved in the business for “four years” and declined to discuss the matter further.

Meanwhile, the owner of Grab & Go Convenience LLC, Sajid Sohail, claimed to be the owner of the business, according to litigation between Sohail and Papaya’s former landlord on East 86th St. Imperial Sterling. 

Imperial alleged that Grab & Go Convenience broke into the store at East 86th St. after the lease was terminated for non-payment of the rent and continued to operate the restaurant without permission, according to court filings.

Sohail could not be reached for comment.