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Iconic Raay-Nor’s fried chicken returns to L.I. with pop-up kitchen in Lido Beach

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Raay-Nor’s Famous Fried Chicken — a Baldwin staple for Southern comfort food for 70-plus years before the restaurant closed in 2005 — is set to make a triumphant return.

Raay-Nor’s makes its comeback this week in Lido Beach, thanks to Maliblue Restaurant and Bar and its new Raay-Nor’s Fried Chicken pop-up kitchen.

The pop-up will be open from Wednesday, Aug. 29, and will run until Labor Day.

“I am excited to bring back a little bit of Long Island’s culinary identity and provide a trip down memory lane for everyone who enjoyed Raay-Nor’s fried chicken and other dishes,” said Butch Yamali, owner and president of Maliblue.

The go-to family meal

Yamali said that when he was young, he and his family didn’t go out to dinner often, but when they did, they would hit Raay-Nor’s. The food was always delicious and fair-priced — and he recalled that their portions were accommodating to families.

Eating at Raay-Nor’s became a family tradition, he recalled.

“My mother’s parents — my grandparents — would take my mom to Raay-Nor’s when she was a little girl,” Yamali said. “It goes back generations.”

Story continues after photos.

A 1930s postcard of Topsy’s Cabin, which resided on Route 27 (Sunrise Highway) in Baldwin before Raay-Nor’s.
A vintage photo of the original Raay-Nor’s Cabin at 550 Sunrise Highway in Baldwin.

Learning from the chef himself

The idea for a Raay-Nor’s pop-up started in 2017 at the Maliblue beachside restaurant, they brought it back in 2018 and relaunched it in April 2020, right when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Long Island.

Following the 2020 special event, the pop-up went on a hiatus for two years.

During these previous promotions, the owner said cars would line up and down Lido Boulevard to the Loop Parkway to get a piece of the coveted fried chicken. The restaurant has served thousands of Raay-Nor’s chicken dinners since starting the pop-up.

But before all of this came to fruition, Maliblue needed to learn the tricks of the trade.

Yamali, who also owns the Coral House in Baldwin, said on his commute to work he would always pass by the old Raay-Nor’s Cabin, which is now home to Ayhan’s Shish-Kebab Restaurant.

“I always wondered what happened to it,” he said. “We searched the internet, couldn’t find former owners or anything. We did every search we could think of.”

Then one day he found the name of the original chef at Raay-Nor’s, Robert Organ.

Before his passing, The Dover Group flew Organ in from Texas to New York to coach the Maliblue chefs on making Raay-Nor’s Southern hits.

Yamali had obtained all the original recipes for the fried chicken, as well as other fan favorites.

“I flew him back to Long Island and he probably spent a week and a half with us, teaching us the recipes, myself included,” he said. “With the first pop-up, he stayed with us and made sure we had everything down pat.”

Although Yamali joked that the fried chicken is the “most confusing” recipe he has ever attempted, the fact that he and his chefs are able to produce the same Raay-Nor’s freshness and taste is all worth it.

Yamali even got the stamp of approval by his mother and aunt, both of whom dined at the original Raay-Nor’s restaurant.

Only for a limited time

Long Islanders itching to satisfy their Raay-Nor’s cravingsd will be happy to learn the cabin’s classics, all made from scratch, are available.

The menu will feature fried, boiled and Maryland-style chicken, served alongside sweet and sticky ham, fluffy biscuits, pickle chips, and Raay-Nor’s famous homemade pies.

To enhance the nostalgic experience, the Maliblue team will temporarily cover over the Maliblue roadside signage with signs that features the original Raay-Nor’s logo and stylized typestyle.

Yamali said that if the pop-up goes well, Maliblue may keep it open past Labor Day.

“Bringing back Raay-Nor’s menu and recipes is a salute to a bygone era and a Long Island institution,” said Yamali.  “If you’ve never eaten Raay-Nor’s chicken, come on down to the Maliblue and learn what all of the excitement is about.”

Raay-Nor’s food is available for both take-out and dine-in, but reservations are strongly encouraged.

For more information or to book a table, call the Maliblue at 516.442.2799. The Maliblue is located at 1500 Lido Blvd. in Lido Beach (maliblueoysterbar.com).

Top: Raay-Nor’s Famous Chicken. Photo courtesy of The Dover Group.