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Miss Colombia

Miss Colombia and Friends in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s amusement parks kicked off the Memorial Day Weekend on Friday and starting now through Labor Day are open daily. Beach season begins on Saturday when the lifeguards return to their chairs for the summer. ATZ’s personal must-see-and-do list this weekend includes taking photos, having the first lobster roll of the year and a cold beer at Paul’s Daughter on the Boardwalk, peering through an antique stereoviewer at the Coney Island History Project’s exhibit of stereoview photography, checking out the street art-in-progress at Coney Art Walls, taking more photos, and singing Happy 95th Birthday to the Wonder Wheel, which opened on Memorial Day in 1920. One thing we’ve yet to experience in Coney Island is boredom, but tonight at Coney Island USA, we look forward to seeing Dick Zigun’s play “Boredom,” adapted from Maxim Gorky’s essay about his trip to the Electric Eden in 1904. As the original intro to the essay wisely noted: “What is seen depends upon the eye that sees it.” Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Related posts on ATZ…

May 18, 2015: Zamperla’s Power Surge Set to Make A Coney Island Comeback

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

1315 Surf Avenue

Vacant since Sandy, 1315 Surf Avenue will be the site of an Italian fast food restaurant. The Shore Theater building next door, owned by the Bullard family, has been vacant for 40 years. May 13, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

What’s new on the north side of Surf, the mecca for franchises in Coney Island? At 1315, where Cha Cha’s relocated from the Boardwalk until calling it quits after being devastated by Sandy, a permit has been taken out for interior renovations. A new eatery is going there and thankfully it won’t be another franchise or chain.

The Russo Brothers, owners of Gargiulo’s, which is Coney Island’s bastion of fine dining, are planning to open a fast food Italian restaurant, according to Anthony Russo. Pizza, veal parm and fried calamari will be among the offerings Russo told ATZ. No opening date has been set, but construction is expected to get underway as soon as permits have been approved.

Gargiulo's Way

Gargiulo’s Way, West 15th St between Surf and Mermaid Avenues, Coney Island. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Russo brothers own the building as well as the adjacent one where tenants include Piece of Velvet Bakery and Rita’s Italian Ice on the corner of 15th Street. In 2007, West 15th Street between Surf and Mermaid Avenues was designated Gargiulo’s Way to mark the 100th anniversary of Gargiulo’s Restaurant. Founded by Gus Gargiulo and owned by the Russo family since 1965, the Coney Island landmark at 2911 West 15th offers classic Neapolitan cuisine.

According to broker Joe Vitacco, who leased the storefronts to Rita’s and Piece of Velvet, there are very few remaining vacant spaces for lease on the north side of Surf. At 1223 Surf Avenue, he has 2,100 square feet on the first floor and 5,000 square feet plus 1,900 square foot terrace on the second floor and 4,000 square feet rooftop dinning for $45-$50 per square foot.

The first floor of that address next to Stillwell Terminal was also leased to a Johnny Rockets (6000 sf) and Red Mango (2.000 sf) franchisee in 2012, but construction has been delayed by new and ever-changing post-Sandy building regulations. Among the stores Vitacco is offering are 1,450 square feet at 1019 Surf Avenue next to the new Subway Cafe and across the street from Luna Park.

Related posts on ATZ…

May 14, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Red Doors Bar & Grill Opens on North Side of Surf Ave

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

January 3, 2014: New Year, New Franchise: Rita’s Italian Ice Coming to Coney Island

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

 

Power Surge

Newly arrived Zamperla Power Surge at Luna Park’s Scream Zone. May 16, 2015. Photo © Magicalthemeparks

A new thrill ride has arrived in Coney Island in time to be awhirl for Memorial Day Weekend! Central Amusement International, the park division of ride manufacturer Zamperla, has brought in a new Power Surge. It is being set up this week on West 12th Street behind Nathan’s in Luna Park’s Scream Zone, adjacent to their Steeplechase coaster.

The ride is no stranger to Coney Island. As ATZ reported previously, Zamp’s Power Surge came to Astroland in time for Fourth of July in 2001. A press release said it was drawing people into the park like a magnet and put on a great show. A photo of the ride was featured on the cover of Time Out New York. “After decades of decay, the weirdly wonderful Coney Island is poised for a comeback” was the intro to the cover story “Fantasy Island.”

Power Surge Astroland

Zamperla’s Power Surge which debuted in 1999, opened in Astroland in 2001. Photo © The Astroland Archive.

The Power Surge made its debut in 1999 and is considered one of Zamperla’s signature rides. “Up to twenty-four riders at a time flip, twist, and spin through two motor driven rotations, and a third gravity driven rotation, guaranteed to deliver a different ride experience each and every time,” according to the ride manufacturer’s catalogue.

Scream Zone

Site prep at future home of Power Surge in Luna Park’s Scream Zone. May 10, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

May 11, 2015: Coney Island Fireworks 2015: Every Friday Plus 8 Saturdays

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

Undertow by Michael BuckleyIn Michael Buckley’s gripping new YA novel Undertow, Coney Island is a dystopia known as “the Zone, the DMZ and Fish City.” Its famed amusement parks and Mermaid Parade are long abandoned. The neighborhood has been fenced off from the rest of New York City and turned into a militarized zone since a warrior race of sea people called the Alpha swam ashore and raised a tent city on the beach.

The book’s narrator is Lyric Walker, a feisty 16-year-old Coney Islander who is thrust into the spotlight when her high school is opened to six Alpha teens. A movie version of the story would be a dream job for a make-up department: “Many have scales. Others have jagged rows of teeth, and mouths like open wounds,” Lyric says of the Alpha students who have to be escorted past violent protestors by soldiers, cops and FBI agents. “One of them is a teenaged mountain of power, a slightly smaller version of the giant warriors who led the way. He has sunken eyes and tiny spikes on his neck, shoulders and forearms.” There’s also a girl with gelatinous skin through which her veins and bones can be seen and a golden god with a bruised face and serrated knives that pop out of his arms.

The golden god is the Alpha prince Fathom, who does battle nightly on the beach with his father’s challengers and wears his bruises like trophies. A mutual attraction develops between the charismatic prince and Lyric when the principal assigns her to be his tutor and meet with him privately every day. When their meetings incur the wrath of the xenophobic governor, the safety of Lyric’s family, who have been harboring a secret from their friends and neighbors, is put in jeopardy.

Lyric Walker is an engaging protagonist, as are the other characters in the book, including her parents, making it a great summer read for both teens and adults. Undertow climaxes with an epic battle on the beach in which Lyric literally learns to make waves. Readers rooting for a human-Alpha romance will be happy to know this is the first novel of a trilogy.

In an interview, Buckley says that Undertow took its inspiration from a refugee crisis that made headlines last year. Tens of thousands of children fled Central America and came to the U.S. where they were imprisoned while elected officials called for electrified fences at the border, similar to the ones in his novel. The Brooklyn resident’s best-selling middle grade series the Sisters Grimm and NERDS have sold more than four million copies and appear in 22 languages.

On Tuesday, May 19, BookCourt at 163 Court Street in Brooklyn is hosting an author reading, audience Q & A and book signing at 7pm.

Undertow by Michael Buckley. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. Hardcover, $18.99

Related posts on ATZ…

December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

November 10, 2014: Autumn Reading: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island

June 19, 2011: Coney Island Summer Reading: The Wonder City

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Summer Reading: Dreamland Social Club

Nieman Eisman Banner

Monkey Scooter Banner by Nieman Eisman, Circa 1930s. Mosby & Co Auctions, May 16, 2015.

We’ve seen quite a few banners of carnival monkeys driving tiny race cars in Monkey Speedways, but never a monkey on a scooter. Considering the current popularity of scooters, this delightful banner could attract some competitive bidding when it goes on the auction block on Saturday.

The painting by Nieman Eisman, a master of the Chicago style of banner painting from the 1920s through the mid-1950s, is one of several carnival canvases in Mosby & Company’s Auction on May 17th. The pre-sale estimate of the giant-sized advertisement –it is approximately 6 feet tall by 9 feet wide–is $2,500 – $3,500. The catalogue is online and one can bid now or in real time during the auction.

Nieman Eisman Banner

Hollywood Movie Star Banner by Nieman Eisman, Circa 1930s. Mosby & Co Auctions, May 16, 2015.

A second Eisman banner titled Hollywood Movie Star shows two tuxedoed monkeys at a fancy restaurant. Banners by both Fred Johnson and Johnny Meah featuring Otis Jordan, “The Frog Boy,” who worked at Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore in his later years, are also among the desirable banners in Saturday’s sale.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 24, 2014: Up for Auction: Vintage Sideshow Banners & Carnival Curiosities

March 19, 2014: Memoirs of a Carny Kid: Monkeys on the Midway

November 23, 2013: More Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

November 7, 2013: Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

The Red Doors Bar & Grill

The Red Doors Bar & Grill, 1205 Surf Avenue, Coney Island. May 13, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s new Red Doors Bar & Grill opened its doors for drinks for the first time on Wednesday. ATZ sampled a raspberry lemonade (minus the vodka) from their cocktail menu. Restaurant consultant Gina Weinstein has put together a new menu and “cool, tattooish” decor mixing industrial design with posters of old Coney Island for this space on Surf Avenue near West 12th Street. Unlike many of the recently opened or soon-to-open eateries in Coney Island, it’s neither a chain nor a franchise! Red Doors’ owner Oleg says he expects the restaurant will open Memorial Day weekend.

The Red Doors Bar & Grill

Industrial design and posters of old Coney Island at The Red Doors Bar & Grill, May 13, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Menu selections include fresh baked pretzels with spicy beer mustard, pulled pork sliders, chicken quesadilla, buffalo chicken spring rolls, Caesar salad, a variety of burgers, fries, beer battered onion rings, and donuts made to order.

For vegetarians, there’s veggies and hummus: “Balsamic grilled asparagus, red pepper, portobello, carrots, purple cabbage, roasted red pepper hummus. served with warm tortillas.”

Raspberry lemonade

Raspberry lemonade at Red Doors Bar & Grill, May 13, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The new Mom & Pop joins Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Applebee’s, Subway Cafe, Dunkin Donuts and Surf 12 Nightclub on the north side of Surf. IHOP, Checkers and Johnny Rockets franchises are under construction.

This location at 1205 Surf Avenue was formerly Bratva Bar and Coney Island Bar & Grill, which closed last year.

Red Doors Bar & Grill

Red Doors Bar & Grill logo features the famous Steeplechase Funny Face and the Wonder Wheel

Related posts on ATZ…

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

April 27, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Update on Wahlburgers, Temporary Fair at Thor’s Vacant Lots

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

Coney Island Fireworks

Electric Eden Revisited: Friday Night Fireworks with Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy

With Memorial Day just two weeks away, readers are starting to ask about Coney Island’s fireworks schedule for the summer! The first Friday night fireworks show of the 2015 season will be on June 19, the eve of both the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade. This free weekly event continues on Fridays through September 4. Friday night fireworks start at 9:30pm and are shot off from the beach. Best viewing is on the Boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th Streets or from the Wonder Wheel. Another popular viewing spot is Steeplechase Pier.

The Brooklyn Cyclones have also announced fireworks on the following eight Saturdays and one Thursday after their home games, including the team’s Home Opener on Saturday, June 20th. Fireworks at MCU Park start when the game is over, so the time varies and is sometimes later than 9:30. Since the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Fireworks are shot from inside their park, best viewing is within and close to the stadium, which is between West 16th and 19th Streets.

Saturday, June 20 – BROOKLYN CYCLONES HOME OPENER – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, June 27 – vs. Connecticut – Toy Story 20th Anniversary Night, Boy Scout Sleepover – Post-Game Fireworks
Thursday, July 2 – vs. Hudson Valley – Back to the Future 30th Anniversary – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 4- vs. Williamsport – Country Night – Post-Game fireworks
Saturday, July 11 – vs. Aberdeen – Star Wars Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, July 18 – vs. Vermont – Honeymooners 60th Anniversary Night, Princess & Pirate Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 1 – vs. Batavia – Honeymooners 60th Anniversary Night, Princess & Pirate Night – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, August 29 – vs. Aberdeen – Military Appreciation Night, Intern Boot Camp – Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, September 5 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Latin Music Night – Post-Game Fireworks

When the weather is iffy on a day when fireworks are scheduled, or if the show is delayed, check the Coney Island tweeters on Coney Island Fun’s list for updates. Thanks to People’s Playground photographer and resident Bruce Handy for his gorgeous photo of one of the Friday night fireworks shows of the past.

Related posts on ATZ…

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

April 21, 2015: Coney Island 2015: New York Air Show Set For August 29-30

March 11, 2015: In Coney Island, Two Stores and One NYC Landmark Mark 95th Year

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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