If you’ve ever strolled down Avenue A in East Village, odds are you’ve either noticed or passed by a small little place painted in green with red lettering. “Ray’s Candy Store“, it reads and stands out amongst the sea of bars and shops. Glittered with pictures of ice cream cones, inside you’re immediately hit with the aroma of fried Oreos and soft smiles from the warm-hearted staff.
Established in 1974, owner Ray Alvarez has proudly been serving his customers for over 40 years. He’s so loved by his community that when his business faced eviction a few years ago, they helped organize multiple fundraisers and campaigns which ultimately lead to keeping Ray’s Candy Store alive! Being a part of the area for so long, Ray is a staple for the old school downtown New York scene. While the culture of the area might have changed, Ray has stayed true to his roots and continues to bring his customers an array of fried foods and his sweet charm.
I’ve read somewhere that for millennials, we crave authenticity over being amazing. One thing I observed at Ray’s Candy Store was how it’s remained unchanged despite the gentrification movement of the 90’s and 00’s. Almost as if it’s been the same place it was 40 years ago, and truly that’s the magic of it- it really is the exact same place. With a wide variety of foods from true New York styled Coney Island soft ice cream, to mozzarella sticks, to a container filled with Belgian french fries, Ray’s truly has all your guilty pleasure foods.
Like many New Yorkers, I’ve enjoyed countless late nights with friends running to Ray’s to get his strawberry soft ice cream. There’s something truly fascinating about this petite shop. Must be its fantastic staff and delicious food, or maybe it’s the phenomena of being in a place that’s lit with nostalgia. Ray’s not only satisfies your sweet tooth but also reminds you of what it’s like to be young in New York.
Next time you’re walking down the streets of East Village, stop into Ray’s Candy Store and order a malted milkshake, share it with your best friend and enjoy a summer day in Tompkins Sq Park. But don’t forget to go to an ATM, Ray’s is cash only!
Fall in love all over again and visit the heart of Avenue A at 113 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009