Alvarez — whose Avenue A shop has been a neighborhood fixture selling ice cream, egg creams, Belgian fries and other treats for more than 40 years — underwent heart valve surgery at Beth Israel Hospital last week, he said. Alvarez said he hopes to come home later this week.
“Everything is okay. I feel good,” he said on the phone Monday, before adding optimistically, “I’m going to be in my store next week.”
Friends who have visited Alvarez and talked to him since the procedure also said he was doing well.
“Ray is good. His operation was a success,” said friend and neighbor Francisco Valera. He said Alvarez was in “great spirits” and has even been conducting business calls from the hospital, although he is dealing with other health issues.
“He’s an 82-year-old man so there are other issues as well,” Valera said, declining to elaborate.
Alvarez’s absence has not gone unnoticed. Days after his procedure, customers brought in a large homemade card into the store, according to EV Grieve, which first reported Alvarez's surgery, and filled it with well wishes and words of encouragement.
“Feel better Ray! We miss you,” read a message signed by an “ice cream loving neighbor.”
“Ray, we love you,” another customer wrote. “Get better fast.”
Alvarez said he appreciated the support from friends and customers.
“Thank you very much,” he said.