BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL | One of Ray Alvarez’s usual hearty greetings is, “Hello-o-o-o, brother!” But, in this case, “Oh, brother” better describes what he’s been going through lately.
The owner of the eponymous Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A was in the hospital recently for swelling in one of his legs.
He said since then he’s been in and out of the hospital a few times, and that he now has to go back every Thursday for blood work.
Ray, real name Asghar Ghahraman, said he has Medicare but it only covers 80 percent of the cost, so he’s gotten a bill for the balance, $5,000. He’s not sure what to do about that.
Earlier this year, just days before things were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ray celebrated his 87th birthday with a blowout party at his hole-in-the-wall store. As has become an annual tradition, a bevy of burlesque dancers performed on his well-worn linoleum-covered countertop. This year’s theme was “The Golden Age of Burlesque.”
Ray jumped ship from the Iranian navy to find his American Dream. Regularly pulling the overnight shift at his store for decades, the iconic egg-cream maker has earned the title of the undisputed ironman of Avenue A.