Ray Bari flipping last pizzas?

By Lauren Elkies | December 27, 2007 04:51PM

Two East Side Ray Bari Pizza parlors — not to be confused with Famous
Original Ray’s Pizza, World Famous Ray’s Pizza and Ray’s Pizza — could
be shut down if the owner can find tenants to lease the restaurant
spaces.

“It depends what’s out there,” said the proprietor and building owner
Joseph Bari, talking about the possibility of finding new tenants to
replace his pizza joints, which are located at Third Avenue and 76th
Street and at Third Avenue and 56th Street.

“Right now we’re breaking even. Why not just sit back and make money?
Why keep on going on and struggling when you could do easy money with
just a rental?” he said.

Bari is already planning to close the 1,500-square foot ground-level
pizza parlor at 1330 Third Avenue and 76th Street, at least
temporarily, to make way for a gut renovation of the restaurant and
four stories of residential units above.

He is also considering leasing out his other Ray Bari Pizza parlor at
930 Third Avenue at 56th Street. That pizza place occupies 4,500 square
feet of the bottom two floors of a rental building. In February, Bari
leased out an additional 1,500 square feet which had been part of the
pizza place.

“Real estate is more valuable than any restaurant,” Bari said.
But, he added: “We will return it to a Ray Bari Pizza if we don’t get
another tenant.”

The eight rental units at 76th Street have been vacant for about
seven years, but for one rent controlled holdout. Unable to come to
terms, the tenant is remaining in the building so Bari has had to
modify renovation plans. The project’s architect, Garth Hayden, said an
elevator cannot be added to the walk-up building. He said he will just reinforce the stairs to make them more stable.

“The building today is seriously a loser,” Hayden said.

The city’s Department of Buildings is approving plans to
reconfigure the edifice, keeping two apartments per floor, and bringing
the facade back to its original brownstone design.

Bari owns two other New York City buildings, one at 1374 Third Avenue
at 78th Street and one at 407 East 77th Street; the former is
residential and commercial and the latter is solely residential.

He said regardless of what happens, the Ray Bari Pizza name will
not die. He hopes to establish a Ray Bari Pizza franchise, if not at
the existing locations then in others locations throughout the city.