Papaya King is a chain of fast food take-out restaurants based in New York City. The original Papaya King was opened in 1932 on the corner of 86th St. and Third Ave. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Although the restaurant originally only served drinks made from fresh tropical fruits, it soon expanded to serving hot dogs due to the influence of its neighborhood, which at the time was populated predominantly by German-American immigrants. It now also serves crispy Cajun curly fries, onion rings, fried pickles, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, tater tots, knishes, cheese steaks and corn dogs.
Papaya King was founded and run for many years by the late Gus Poulos, and later on his son Peter, who first managed their second store (with seating) at 87th Street and Third Avenue. In the 1930s, there was also a store in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. During the 1970s, the Pouloses attempted to franchise the restaurant, and one franchise briefly opened in midtown. A company-owned store opened (and closed) in the 1980s at 59th Street and Third Avenue.
In 2001, another company-owned store opened in Philadelphia, this time on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania at 40th and Locust Streets; it closed in 2004. In 2006, another attempted franchise opened briefly in the food court at Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, in Garden City, New York. As Papaya King entered the new millennia, the Poulos family sold the business in the early 2000’s.
In May, 2013 Papaya King opened a concept store on St. Marks Place - a historical and cultural crossroads in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. The store features a recessed patio area in front, widely referred to as “the stoop,” where customers and locals gather. The store features many of the classic elements that characterize the 86th Street location, with additional experience elements such as vintage arcade games, a projector screen, sound system and brand merchandise.