Papaya King’s days of slinging hot dogs and tropical drinks at the corner of East 86th Street and Third Avenue could be numbered, as a developer plans to demolish the building housing the 90-year-old business. This weekend though, the legendary Upper East Side frankfurter purveyor is set to get a big boost from fans in the form of a ‘cash mob.’
“I wanted to support Papaya King, even though we’re competitors in a sense,” restauranteur Michael Quinn told Upper East Site, “there’s not too many places like that around anymore.”
Mr. Quinn, who brought back the Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dog brand— which is believed by some to be the creator of the hot dog— is organizing the so-called ‘cash mob’ at the UES institution Saturday, September 17th at noon.
Quinn is urging fans of Papaya King to come to the original location at 179 East 86th Street and open their wallets, dropping lots of cold hard cash on their favorite eats.
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He knows the ‘cash mob’ won’t necessarily save the longtime favorite of New Yorkers, but wanted to give the hot dog shop a fighting chance.
“It’s just basically to get media attention and just show support that the community wants this here,” Mr. Quinn said.
“We don’t want the city to turn into like one big glass castle,” he added, referring to proliferation of boxy, high rise towers across Manhattan.
He’s even enlisted the help of Barstool Sports blogger Frank Fleming, better known as Frank the Tank, who started an online petition to save the famous restaurant which has garnered more than two hundred signatures.
“We love small businesses,” Quinn said.
“When you live in a community, they should have some input,”
Back in July, plans were filed with the NYC Department of Buildings to demolish the structure housing Papaya King and three other now-vacant storefronts, to make way for new construction at the bustling Upper East Side corner.
Right now, the operator of the original Papaya King location, a former contractor for the company, is locked in a legal battle with the property owner— accused of breaking into the shop and resuming operations after the lease was terminated in 2020, according to court documents.
While Papaya King’s future on the Upper East Side remains uncertain, one thing is very clear— passionate New Yorkers are not ready to let this iconic establishment turn into just another fond memory of years past.
“We love places that have been here for almost a century,” Quinn said.
“They’ve been here that long for for a reason.”