The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

NoLIta Ray's Pizza to Become Spa and Pizza Shop After $5.9 Million Sale

By Andrea Swalec | December 9, 2011 7:08am | Updated on December 9, 2011 11:23am
Ray's Pizza, a NoLIta institution, closed Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011 after a legal dispute.
Ray's Pizza, a NoLIta institution, closed Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011 after a legal dispute.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

NOLITA — Care for a slice with your spa treatment?

The former home of the oldest Ray's Pizza in the city will become a luxury spa and new pizza shop in a few months, its new owner and management company said Thursday.

An "independent pizza store" is planned in the place of the 27 Prince St. mainstay's takeout shop on the right side of the building, and a branch of a spa with locations worldwide will open in the place of the former sit-down restaurant on the left side of the building.

Nick Aynilian, president of property manager Vanick Properties Incorporated, said Ray's Pizza had been "caught in a time warp" and needs to be renovated to match its surroundings.

"This is a trendy area, so it's time for the building to take its rightful place in the neighborhood," he said. "The neighborhood has changed and the building has to change, too.

"I think it will be a nice situation that will serve a lot of people's needs," he added.

The building's ownership recently changed when a member of the family that owned Ray's Pizza, which closed in October, bought the building for $5.9 million, according to legal documents filed with the city Department of Finance.

Cheryl Sorrentino, who owned a 35.5 percent stake in the building where the legendary pizza shop was housed on the first floor, bought out her former partners and family members Helen Mistretta, Lorraine Marini and Nancy Salvatore, according to the documents.

Sorrentino said the new, "different kind of pizza place" and spa would fit well with the neighborhood.

"I just hope [the new businesses] add to the neighborhood, and it keeps going like it was before and that people will like it," she said.

Sorrentino said she has a few partners in the purchase of the building, conducted under the name 27 Prince Street LLC, but she declined to identify them.

Both Sorrentino and Aynilian declined to provide the names of the forthcoming businesses, which Aynilian said are scheduled to open in February or March.

Plans for the five-story building include renovations to the apartments on its upper floors, with the consent of its tenants, Aynilian said.

"All we're trying to do is make a nice improvement. We're not the type to come in and throw everybody out and try to kill everybody with new rents," he said.

The future spa and pizza joint are just the latest wrinkle in the family battle over the fate of Ray's Pizza.

Ralph Cuomo opened Ray's in 1959, and the slice joint and its adjacent restaurant by the same name spawned dozens of imitators across the city.

In 2009, Sorrentino Cuomo's niece filed lawsuits against the other three owners, claiming they owed her rent money. The suits were settled this year, according to court records.

Sorrentino was willed a majority share of the building after Cuomo died in 2008, according to legal documents.

Mistretta, Cuomo's cousin, and Marini, who was Cuomo's girlfriend, were also willed shares of the building. Salvatore, Cuomo's sister, had owned a 21-percent stake in the building since 1975, but saw the number jump to 29 percent in 2009, according to the new deed.

According to documents filed with the city Department of Finance, the entire building was sold to 27 Prince Street LLC for $5.9 million on Nov. 4.

The transaction was managed by Vanick, a Westwood, N.J., company whose tenants include Bank of America, Starbucks, Capital One Bank, Subway and Curves, according to the group's website.

"One of the buyers is also a seller," the new deed for the building says.

Vanick has taken out a $4 million mortgage on the building, according to city records.

No new Department of Buildings permits or State Liquor Authority licenses are on file for the address.

In Greenwich Village, another Ray's recently lost a battle in the pizza wars. The former Sixth Avenue home of Famous Ray's Pizza, which closed in October, will be taken over by its rival, Famous Original Ray's Pizza.