Manhattan

NYC Candy Legend, 90, Brutalized Outside Shop He's Run for Half-Century

Ray Alvarez, now 90, opened Ray's Candy Store on Avenue A in the East Village in 1974 -- and he was attacked just outside his shop this week. Here's what we know so far

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Someone accosted a 90-year-old Manhattan candy store legend after soliciting him on the street earlier this week, threatening to kill him and beating him bloody outside the East Village shop he has run the last 50 years, police say.

The NYPD confirmed Thursday that Ray Alvarez, owner of the eponymous Ray's Candy Store, was the victim in the 3 a.m. attack on Avenue A this past Tuesday just outside his shop — which is well-known for being open late, and is frequently at its busiest overnight.

According to Alvarez, a man approached him outside his shop and asked if he wanted to buy seltzer water. Alvarez says he said, "no, thanks," and ended up whacked in the head with a belt that had a heavy rock at its end.

"Then he told his friend, 'Hold this I want to kill this guy,'" said Alvarez. "He surprised me and I thought the end of the world, I hit the ground, saw the blood and I thought this looks like the end."

The 90-year-old was left bleeding as the suspect ran off along Avenue A. He has a black eye and says he's had trouble eating since the attack, but Alvarez, who opened his shop in 1974, says he's otherwise not in pain — and is trying to stay in good spirits.

"This happens, you know, and I still love New York," he said. "It's OK, I'll be alright, it will pass."

While Alvarez wants his attacker caught, he also said he has a job to do — so he didn't take any time off. A few hours later, he went right back to manning his counter. Despite the gash on the side of his head, not being able to chew and having trouble sleeping, Alvarez said he doesn't want to go to the doctor.

Local blog EV Grieve shared photos of the proprietor after the incident. The employee with him was also hit but was expected to be OK, according to Alvarez and police.

"He asked me do you believe in satan?" said the employ Gabe Thorne. "I had no idea he was going to go for Ray...Ray is everyone's grandpa. People who don't have family around, Ray takes care of everyone. The fact that this happened makes everyone super upset."

Alvarez has quite the personal story: He deserted the Iranian navy and ended up in New York before opening up his shop, which has seen a who's who of celebrities come through its doors over the years. He told NBC New York he was attacked on the job once before, but nothing quite like this.

Alvarez initially didn't want to press charges and get the police involved, but people who live around here were so outraged, they convinced him to file a police report. 

Police released a surveillance image of the suspect from the area around the time of the attack, who was last seen pushing a shopping cart in the East Village. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

The investigation is ongoing.

Copyright NBC New York
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