The year began and ended with bad news for Ray's Candy Store [MySpace], the hole-in-the-wall burger, shake, etc. joint on Avenue A across the street from Tompkins Square Park. Ray's has been a neighborhood institution for decades, but owner Ray Alvarez, 76, has fallen deep in debt and has health problems compounded by the fact that he's a Turkish immigrant without a birth certificate and ineligible for Social Security. Now he's late on his rent for the first time since opening in '74, and tells the Villager, "They might throw me out. If I work alone — no girls, no help — I will make $100 a day and pay my rent. ... And if lose my store, I lose my apartment, too. This is my only income, and it’s too cold to collect cans." [Via EV Grieve]