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Feltman’s of Coney Island owner plans cash mob to save Manhattan hot dog eatery, Papaya King

papaya king
Michael Quinn, purveyor of Feltman’s of Coney Island, is rallying to save another iconic hot dog joint: Manhattan’s Papaya King.
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The owner of Coney Island’s original hot dog purveyor, Feltman’s, is rallying around his competition, and has organized what he calls a “cash mob” to help save Manhattan’s own iconic frank seller Papaya King.

Historian turned restaurateur Michael Quinn, who revived the Feltman’s brand in 2017, is asking New Yorkers shower the restaurant with appreciation — and more importantly, purchases — this Saturday, Sept. 17. Papaya King, which has stood at the corner of 86th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan since 1932, is facing potential closure as new building owners take over.

However, hot dog fanatics like Quinn are hoping a public display of their love for the brand can help keep it alive.

michael quinn
Michael Quinn, who revived Coney Island’s famous Feltman’s hot dogs in 2017, is rallying to save Manhattan’s Papaya King from an uncertain fate. File photo by Georgine Benvenuto

“The main thing is not to increase business for them, I think it’s just getting attention and showing how much New Yorkers love Papaya King,” Quinn told Brooklyn Paper. “Sometimes you can make a change by having petitions and having people show up and just showing everyone how much [the community] cares about the business and how much they want it to stay.”

Quinn also called on the help of his old pal, Frank Fleming — better known as Frank the Tank. The Barstool Sports blogger recently launched a petition to save Papaya King. Fleming’s petition cites reports that developer Extell plans to replace the low-level building with a modern high-rise. 

“We have enough high-rise buildings with boring faceless chain stores at their anchor,” Fleming contends in his online plea for support. “Save this iconic hot dog place that gives New York character, that Kramer loved on Seinfeld, don’t let them tear down Papaya King.”

As of Sept. 13, Fleming’s petition had close to 200 signatures, and was chock full of comments relishing the popular restaurant’s tropical drinks and specialty frankfurters.

Speaking with Brooklyn Paper, Fleming said businesses like Papaya King are what make the Big Apple special.

“I like classic hot dog places that have charm and history,” he said. “Papaya King has been around for 90 years and all other papaya dog places including Grey Papaya are just imitations of the king. It’s places like Papaya King that are the heart of NYC.”

feltman's sign
Quinn, who revived Coney Island’s famous Feltman’s in 2017, hopes the outpour of public support will save Papaya King. The eatery is to Manhattan as Feltman’s is to Coney Island, he said. File photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Quinn, who said the Upper East Side eatery is to Manhattan what Feltman’s is to Coney Island, is no stranger to the idea of saving a business. Shortly after reviving Feltman’s, he used similar tactics like cash mobs to bring attention back to the hot dog business named after the inventor of the hot dog, Charles Feltman.

Saturday’s cash mob will take place at noon at Papaya King, located at 179 East 86th Street.

Representatives for Papaya King did not respond to a request for comment.

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