Ray's Pizza to Close at End of September

Sunday, Sep 18, 2011  |  Updated 1:46 PM EDT
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Ray's Pizza to Close at End of September

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Beloved New York City institution Ray's Pizza is in danger of closing at the end of the month.

The Little Italy pizzeria -- known for actually being the original Ray's, before those Original Ray's shops started popping up -- has fallen victim to a legal dispute among heirs with various interests in the building at 27 Prince St., according to the New York Times.

The building includes apartments, the pizzeria and an Italian restaurant. When the eponymous founder died in 2008, a legal battle arose over whether the restaurant's lease was valid and whether it should pay rent. A lawsuit was filed in 2009 and settled this year, according to the Times.

Now the pizzeria is preparing to vacate the building, though the current manager, 79-year-old Helen Mistretta, insisted to the Times that "it's the end of 27 Prince, not the end of Ray's of Prince Street."

The pizza parlor will remain open through the Feast of San Gennaro, which ends Sept. 25. 

The pizzeria was opened in 1959 by Mistretta's cousin Ralph Cuomo, who decided to call his restaurant Ray's in a spin-off of his nickname, Raffie.

Cuomo briefly opened a second Ray's Pizza on the Upper East Side, but sold it to Rosolino Mangano, who kept the name and started opening other pizza shops under the Ray's moniker. There are now at least a dozen Ray's Pizza restaurants in New York City, some with variations on the name, including Famous Ray's, Original Ray's and Famous Original Ray's.

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