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A Grand Re-Opening for Ray’s - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


A Grand Re-Opening for Ray’s


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DSC00817Stephen Rex Brown Ray Alvarez, the owner of Ray’s Candy Store.

This morning, we told you that Ray’s Candy Store is open for business again after the Avenue A mainstay failed a health inspection last week and was forced to close for five days.

The Local paid a visit to Ray’s this morning and spoke with the owner and namesake, Ray Alvarez, who described how he and some friends worked late into the night to clean the shop so that it could eventually pass muster.

“I only slept three hours a night,” said Mr. Alvarez, who’s 78. “We swept, mopped, and patched over 200 holes. I had two exterminators come last week.”

Health inspectors first visited Mr. Alvarez’s eatery between Seventh Street and St. Marks Place last Monday, and cited the shop for contaminated food, evidence of mice in food preparation areas, and improper storage areas.

The inspector told Mr. Alvarez to close his business, but — concerned about the financial ramifications of closing —he remained open and was slapped with a $2,000 fine on a return visit the same day.

“Too many fines,” Mr. Alvarez said. “The inspectors ran out of paper, and my pen ran out of ink from signing my name so much.”

Picture 015Kenan Christiansen Notices of the shop’s closure were posted on a door last week.

After subsequent visits from the inspectors on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Alvarez was once again serving egg creams, coffee and ice cream by Friday afternoon.

But he said that he wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to keep his business — which has a long history of financial woes — open.

But at least this morning Mr. Alvarez was happy to be back in business.

“I appreciate all the help,” he said. “My customers, they’re family to me. I would never do anything to harm them. I serve clean food.”

Mr. Alvarez added that he already had a few promotions in mind to help the business get back on its feet.

“I’m going to start doing French press coffee,” he said. “You heard of that? I’ll serve it for $2.”