Okay, guys, ready? One, Two, Three… “COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF.” So, you know how people who have lived here long enough to still call Hi-Fi the bar Brownies and remember when Tompkins Square Park was a shanty town (although it still kind of is… one homeless man once presented me with a bat and told me I could hit him for a $1 there) are always talking about the changing neighborhood and losing what makes it great? Well, I finally get that. I got it a little when they tore down that kind of creepy but cool “Tower of Toys” on Ave. B and then I got it a whole lot earlier this year when Ray’s Candy Store was almost shuttered when Ray fell behind in his rent for the first time in 35 years.
Yes, Ray’s is reminiscent of a hardware store that happens to also serve food. Yes, there are plenty of other places to get ice cream/fries/egg cream/hot dogs/coffee/other things written in thick red paint on the sign out front. But Ray is what brings you in and makes you come back, even when you leave the neighborhood and have to spend as much in subway fare to get there as you do on the food. My favorite is the pistachio soft serve in a cone with rainbow sprinkles for $3, because a) where else have you seen pistachio soft serve and b) the sprinkles, otherwise a luxury, are free! The food is cheap, good, fresh and Ray is happy to serve it to you no matter if you’re an NYU frat kid or dressed in drag.
After support for the community and even a fundraiser in March, Ray worked out a new payment plan with his landlord last week that he hopes will allow him to stay open. But just in case, now you know where to drag your drunk ass for food next time you need a fix both without judgment and a grin.
Ray’s Candy Store
113 Avenue A
At 8th Street [East Village]
Photo credit DNA info.