Restaurant News

The Meat of the Matter at Ray's Franks

For weeks, there have been rumors swirling about the impending demise of popular downtown eatery Ray's Franks. We first talked about our love affair with the horror movie-themed restaurant in July 2009, not long after it first opened its doors. The menu items consisted of cleverly named burgers and hot dogs like "The Mummy" (a bacon-wrapped hot dog covered in cheese) or "The Blob" (a chili cheeseburger) that were made fresh to order with quality ingredients. A soundtrack worthy of High Fidelity played over the speakers. The prices were right. And the building -- which once housed the Dharma Cafe -- was quaint and quirky, sunlight streaming through the high windows of the old structure and music bouncing off the high ceilings.

But just as Ray's was hitting its stride, strife was occurring in the kitchen. Fearing that the restaurant would soon close, the owners' son Aaron put out an APB to his friends, letting them know to get their Ray's Franks fix while they still could.

Wanting to let others know, we Tweeted about the precarious situation (albeit somewhat vaguely), and before long the word was all over the street and the Internet. "Save Ray's Franks!" soon became a rallying cry, but was the restaurant actually going to close? Although restaurant personnel assured guests that it wasn't closing, indications like this ad placed on Craigslist weren't assuaging anyone's fears.

We spoke with owner Jose Sainz this afternoon at the office of the leasing agent that owns the Ray's Franks building. "The restaurant isn't closing its doors," he assured us. But what about that ad?

Sainz explained further, "We are selling the restaurant. Two people have already tendered an offer to purchase it. And I intend to stay on and help out as the restaurant transitions and a new owner comes on board." Whether the restaurant would keep the name Ray's Franks or would continue to serve the same fare is still unknown.

Adding for emphasis a final, "We are not closing!" at the end of our conversation, Sainz wanted to make it clear that the restaurant is not shutting its doors right now. But that's not to say that its future new owner will still be serving the burgers and hot dogs that we adore so much. The horror movie paraphernalia and indie-punk soundtrack have already been removed from the space. So although Ray's might not be closing in the traditional sense, what remains seems destined to be different from the original Ray's Franks we first visited last July.

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Katharine Shilcutt