On Saturday, May 19, you’ll find us in Coney Island enjoying the first plate of clams and a beer at Paul’s Daughter and raising the first toast of the season at Ruby’s Bar. After attending several “Last Call” protest parties at Ruby’s and lingering over more than one “Last French Fry” at Paul’s, there’s no place we’d rather be. The two Mom & Pops will open for the 2012 season this weekend after months of renovations and missing Coney Island’s Opening Day on April 1st. Both businesses were required to do gut rehabs of their Boardwalk establishments after dodging eviction and winning eight-year leases from Zamperla, the landlord of the City-owned Boardwalk
“It took time to be that iconic and it’s going to take time to put some of it back,” Paul’s daughter Tina Georgoulakos told ATZ about the work in progress at her store. The family business was co-founded 50 years ago by her father Paul Georgoulakos, now 83, and Gregory Bitetzakis on the Coney Island Boardwalk as Gregory & Paul’s. Saturday will be the soft opening of the new Paul’s Daughter, with the grand opening scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend. Some work remains to be done in the kitchen, which will be finished and inspected next week. This weekend’s bill of fare will be limited to clams on the half-shell, Brooklyn craft beer and soda. “It’s a brand new place with the same people,” said Tina.
While the new lighted signs and striped awnings mandated for the Boardwalk stores have yet to go up at Ruby’s or Paul’s, the good news is that some of the quirky vernacular signage that gave both places such character will return after all! At Paul’s Daughter, the original signs will be be put up on Monday or Tuesday, said Tina, who sent us these photos of a few of the restored signs. Back in November, when lease negotiations were in progress, it was heartbreaking to see the cavalcade of beloved characters and foods torn from their home on the Boardwalk building’s facade: Mr Shrimp, Chiefito and Chiefita (the Nice N Sweet/Fluffy Cotton Candy Kids), Shish Kebab (“Made with Love”) and other enticements. Some of the signage has been here since the restaurant’s earliest days and was meticulously restored a couple of years ago.
The rendering for the new store released in November showed the spruced up Burger statues on the roof (where they have remained throughout this saga) and what appeared to be new hand-painted signs in the spirit of the original along the bottom. At the time Tina told us she doubted whether the age and fragile condition of the signs would allow her to return them to the building’s exterior. The happy solution was to have the thin metal signs mounted on a wood backing.
The announcement of Ruby’s Saturday opening was posted on their Facebook page yesterday: “WHEW! After months of construction….Ruby’s will be open Tomorrow!!! Look forward to seeing everyone.” The bar, newly trimmed with ipe wood salvaged from the Boardwalk redo, will be open, of course. The menu, still a work in progress, will include hot dogs, hamburgers and knishes. French fries are yet to come.
As we previously reported, the vernacular signage touting Hot Corn, Fried Shrimp and Shish-Ka-Bob have survived and are alive and on the inside at Ruby’s Bar and Grill. The charmingly hand-painted food and lettering surrounding the grill got a touch up and has been trimmed with recycled wood from the Boardwalk. The plastic tabletops have also been replaced with Boardwalk wood. See you there!
Related posts on ATZ...
May 22, 2012: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!
December 8, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk
November 13, 2011: The End of Paul’s Daughter As We Know It–Will They Return?
December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video