Friday
Jan212011

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Ray’s Candy Store @12:03 am
Lower East Side, NYC

Well, here we go with the debut post from my new blog, “Marty After Dark.” Anybody out there? Or did I lose everyone with my month absence? I know how fickle everyone on the internet can be, so we’ll see who made it over here. Anyway, the explanation for what this is all about and what I’m going to be doing can be found right here: What’s Going On. If you’ve stumbled here and don’t know who I am and are curious, you can read all about me here: About Me (I’m a legend in my own mind!)

Big thanks to “Boris” for a spectacular job on designing the Marty After Dark banner. As always, “Boris” was able to put together an iconic piece of art that really makes the page come alive, thanks, Daddio! And my friend and the coolest DJ in the world, Gidget, once again set up a facebook fan page for the site and she and “Boris” will be maintaining it. You can click on the button over on the right, or just click here to be part of the fan page—Marty After Dark on facebook  And you can check out Gidget and “Boris” on Woody radio, here’s the schedule page: Woody Radio Schedule.

So now that you know what’s going on, it’s time for our first late night adventure. Since today was Valentine’s day, I thought it only fitting to venture out to a candy store that never closes. And this isn’t just any candy store, it’s a place that’s been on the block on Avenue A for over thirty years—Rays Candy Store, right across from Tompkins Sqare Park. The owner is Ray Alvarez a man who just celebrated his 78th birthday, sadly I missed that party, check out the photos here: Slum Goddess at Ray’s birthday party. So since this being Valentine’s Day, I thought we’d make a late night visit to Ray’s candy store, wish him a belated happy birthday, a happy Valentine’s Day and maybe get an egg cream soda. Come on, let’s get out there in the dark and get this blog moving already!

Okay, here we go off on the maiden voyage of Marty After Dark.

We'll go up 6th Avenue to 34th Street to catch the F train to the Lower East Side. Goddamn, it's windy and chilly out here tonight, I can't wait for spring to be sprung.

A lonely street vendor waits for customers that probably won't be showing up on this cold and windy evening.

And here we descend into the bowels of the subway system in Manhattan.

Hi asshole!

Hot damn, only about a three minute wait and here's the F train.

Hey look who's our neighbor, the asshole who can't stop texting. He never looked up once during the whole trip.

And we're here. We'll exit on Houston Street.

There's not a lot of people out tonight, even though it's Valentine's Day. For me, February is one of the worst months in New York. Kind of a cold and lonesome month. I bet there's people at Ray's though, let's soldier on.

Katz's deli is closed for the evening, but the sign is still lit.

And here we are, Ray's Candy Store, there's ATM here if you're still with us Joey D!

Another angle of the quaint candy store.

Here's some of the outside signage.

And here's some more.

I chopped off the bottom of this sign, but it says, "Everything Made With Love." Nice.

Let's go in and check it out.

And here he is, the man himself, Ray Alvarez. Ray's a really nice guy and personally greets everyone who comes in. He just turned 78-years-old and works the candy store from 8pm to 10am seven days a week. He told me it keeps him young. And he is the youngest and friendliest 78-year-old I've ever met.

There's plenty of drink choices in here, but I already knew what I had to try, one of Ray's famous egg creams.

As soon as I order Ray fly's into action. He pours...

And he mixes.

And here's the frothy final result and it's delicious!

Here's some signs and the hot dog cooker in the front window of Ray's Candy Store.

And some people have gathered inside at the counter. The crowd changes every five to ten minutes in here and it's an eclectic mix of people that pass through the door.

Here's Bob with Ray. Bob said he's been coming here so long he's not sure when he first started venturing to Ray's. He got a hot dog to go.

This couple got a small order of fries.

And here's Ray serving the fries up. Yeah, that's the small order, I can't imagine what the large one looks like!

Here's some of the candy housed behind the front counter.

As you can see from the signs, there's about anything here that your appetite desires.

Obligatory Ray's mirror shot! Some things I just can't let go.

More signs in the back of the store.

Here's a sign you could eat off of. How handy is that?

Here's some "Save Ray's" pictures. About a year ago, Ray was almost evicted from this space. He fell behind in rent and the landlord was ready to boot him out. The neighborhood rallied around Ray and raised some money to help him with his rent and thankfully he's still here.

Ray's garnered a lot of press through the years and it's plastered on the walls in between the sandwich signs.

Here's a piece from the Villager on a benefit for Ray's.

Here's an article on the wall about photographer Bob Arihood who's documented Ray's and the neighborhood with his photography. Check out his blog here: Nadie Se Conoce.

A couple of girls shouted hi to Ray in the window and asked if he needed any helpers for the night, so he invited them in.

And here they are, from left, Molly, Ray and Ilana.

They took off their coats and Ray taught them the fine art of making an egg cream.

Ray shows them the next step.

And here they sample the finished product.

Now Ray let's them try to make one on their own.

And here they are with the fruits of their labor, some fries and an egg cream. After this, they helped wait on people that came in the store.

Including Shivan and Molly who got an order of fries.

Paul and Claudia stopped in as I was getting ready to hit the road.

And a parting shot of the loneliest wiener in town. Goodnight everybody, see you tomorrow, after dark!

Ray's Candy Store
113 Ave. A (Near 7th St.)
Lower East Side


When you enter Ray’s it’s a little bit like going into a time warp. It’s a small shop with a well-worn light blue counter to lean into and suck back an egg cream and chomp into a hot dog with cheese, onions and mustard. It’s got an old world clubhouse atmosphere to it that couldn’t be duplicated if you tried. And of course there’s Ray, a charming, likeable one-of-a-kind guy running a one-of-a-kind store. There’s no menus, you have to look around at the hand-painted signs that hang on the walls in between faded newspaper items and assorted bric-a-brac to decide what you want to order. I like a place that makes you look around, it’s a reminder that you should do that more often in life. While I was in there nobody was talking on a cell phone or texting and it brought back a memory I had while doing the 365 bar crawl last year. I had approached a couple who were seated at a table and were busy texting while I told them what I was doing.

They put down their iPhones to pose for a photo and I gave them a business card and the twentysomething woman looked at it and made a face and said, “Eww, you’re on Earthlink?”

“Yeah, why, something wrong with that?” I asked wondering why she would care who my email provider was.

“It’s, like, so yesterday!” She said laughing and picking up her iPhone. Her companion smirked and was already back to the texting.

“Well, I’m all about yesterday,” I explained, “I’ve seen the future and it’s one long text that says, ‘nothing’ a thousand different ways.”

I don’t think they heard me, they were too deep into their texts to care, their faces were colored with a whiter shade of blank. I went back to the bar and had a beer. If you’re all about the yesterdays, stop in at Ray’s and get a sandwich, some fries and an egg cream and help keep a slice of yesterday alive and well on Avenue A in New York City. Ray will love it if you do and so will the neighborhood. Me too.

Further reading:EV Grieve, NY Observer, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and Nadie Se Conoce.

And you can help support Ray and his candy store by buying one of the fine products emblazoned with his logo at his online store, check it out: Ray's Candy Store Online Cafe.

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