Papaya King, the iconic hot dog brand that expanded to the East Village in 2013, has closed its St. Marks Place location in the face of impending redevelopment. Continental Bar, a neighborhood institution, will also close after 26 years.
Papaya King’s new landlord plans to demolish the buildings on the corner of St. Marks Place and Third Avenue (3 St. Marks Place, 23 and 25-27 Third Avenue) to make way for a seven-story office building, according to the closing announcement. Papaya King won’t be included in the 6,000 square feet of new retail space. Nor will Continental Bar. Today, a message on the bar’s website announced that it “has less than a year left,” since its building is set to be demolished “after the end of August 2018.”
“It’s truly heartbreaking that we and so many Old Skool places are falling by the wayside but unless you own your building that’s how it goes,” Trigger Smith, owner of Continental. “For going on 27 years this Bar has been my life. First as a Rock Club and then as a Dive Bar and I’ve loved every minute of it (mostly speaking). Don’t hate my landlords. They’re older now, got a great deal and I can’t blame them and I want to thank them.”
Real Estate Equities Corporation signed the $150 million, 99-year deal for the corner properties, owned by Edward and Joseph Gabay, on Wednesday, and plans “a ground-up boutique office building,” the Real Deal reported.
Continental opened in 1991 and hosted many performances by members of the Ramones (including Joey’s annual Christmas bash and his final performance) as well as early shows by Murphy’s Law, Blues Traveler, and Bouncing Souls before it transitioned into a dive bar in 2006. Iggy Pop and Guns N’ Roses also played there, according to a Village Voice article about the transition.
The irony of Papaya King’s closure won’t be lost on anyone who has slurped down some papaya juice at the St. Marks Place location; it’s plastered with East Village imagery. Korilla BBQ– with its murals paying homage to other bygone East Village businesses, CBGB and Mars Bar– is also part of the doomed parcel.
Sadly, the closure of these businesses, across from the new 51 Astor building– the “Death Star” that houses IBM Watson and a new Shake Shack– seemed inevitable when the adjacent McDonald’s closed in June. Nevertheless, the closure of Papaya King, which still has locations on the Upper East Side and downtown Brooklyn, is sad for anyone still mourning the loss of Gray’s Papaya nearby. Smith remained hopeful about Continental’s future: “If we’re very, very busy for the remainder, it’s possible that we’ll have the funds to relocate.”