Cleanup and recovery efforts, including the replacement of waterlogged sheetrock and restoration of damaged electrical systems, continue at flood-devastated businesses throughout Coney Island. More than three weeks after the storm, relatively few stores have managed to reopen for business. During the peak of Hurricane Sandy, Surf Avenue as well as Mermaid and Neptune Avenues and adjacent streets were submerged in five feet of water that came from the bay, the creek and overflowing sewers with the rising tide.
Today, the good news was that Key Food, the only supermarket in Coney’s West End, opened for the first time since Hurricane Sandy with temporary generators providing power, according to a press release by the Alliance for Coney Island. Day by day, more stores will reopen and this post, which focuses on the businesses in and around the amusement area, will quickly (we hope) become out-of-date. Today’s other piece of good news was the Mayor’s announcement of a $5.5 million grant program to supplement $15 million in emergency loans offered to the City’s small businesses impacted by Sandy.
On the Boardwalk, Ruby’s Bar, Lola Star Boutique and Brooklyn Beach Shop opened for Small Business Saturday, though their building has no power. A few days ago they found out the distribution panel in the basement was destroyed and requires an electrician to repair and certify it before Con Edison will flick the switch. The situation is the same for many throughout Coney Island. No one on the Boardwalk is complaining about the delay because they say many people have it a lot worse. But the business owners would like locals and tourists to know their shops are now open on weekends. “We close at sundown, when we can’t see anything,” said Maya Haddad of Brooklyn Beach Shop. “Thanks to the Square app, we’re able to process credit cards in my cell.”
Next door, Ruby’s Bar powered their jukebox and refrigerator by running extension cords to Tom’s Restaurant, which has electric and is open daily till at least 5pm. At Lola Star Boutique, where “Coney Island Forever” T-shirts were being sold to raise funds for Coney Island’s rebuilding efforts, extension cords replaced the gas-powered generator of last weekend. “In the true spirit of the spunky Coney Island business owner, my shop will be open for holiday shopping although we still don’t have electricity,” Lola Star owner Dianna Carlin wrote in her online diary. “There’s no better place on Earth to celebrate Small Business Saturday than Coney Island.”
Paul’s Daughter, undamaged except for the Burger Girl statue toppling over and losing her Burger to Sandy, was open through Sunday but is now closed for the season. Closed due to damage from the flooding are the Coney Island amusement area’s three nonprofit attractions: New York Aquarium, Coney Island USA and the Coney Island History Project. All are busy cleaning up and raising funds to rebuild and reopen in the spring. As we reported yesterday, the Aquarium’s annual holiday toy drive has been relocated to Tom’s Restaurant on the Boardwalk, which has also become the de facto gathering spot for meetings on local business recovery.
The contrast between the Boardwalk stores, which escaped flood damage, and the rest of Coney Island could not be more stark. On Surf Avenue in the amusement area, one of the first shops to reopen was Williams Candy, which is open daily year-round. Their scrumptious and photogenic marshmallow treats and candy apples were on display as usual in the window. But the scene had a surreal air because everything else on the block was shuttered or being cleaned up. Next door, the original Nathan’s remains closed due to damage to electrical and plumbing. A manager said it is not expected to open until April. But you can still get a hamburger at Tom’s and a hot dog at Ruby’s!
Across the street, Cha Cha’s, which had already been emptied of wrecked furnishings, was being mopped by a man who shooed us away. In Stillwell Terminal, the newstand has reopened but Dunkin Donuts, Magic Gyro, Subway, and Bank of America remain closed. Also shuttered are the Stillwell Terminal outposts of Lola Star Boutique and Coney Island Beach Shop. The Beach Shop’s main store behind Nathan’s remains closed for cleanup as well. Pizza on the Run on both Stillwell Avenue and Mermaid Avenue, as well as Alex Deli Mexican Food on Mermaid have reopened. McDonald’s at Stillwell and Mermaid, which was open 24 hours, is closed and boarded up, and is not expected to reopen for two to three months.
On the south side of Surf Avenue, Popeye’s Chicken managed to reopen last week. The fast food restaurant relocated to the Popper Building in April and is on the same block as the devastated Eldorado Auto Skooters (“Coney Island’s Eldorado Wins Lease But Bumper Cars Soaked by Sandy,” ATZ, Nov. 13, 2012), Denny’s Ice Cream (“Coney Island Post-Sandy: Mini-Golf or Roller Rink to Replace Denny’s?,” ATZ, Nov 20, 2012) and Coney Island USA’s Freak Bar. Island Grocery remains shuttered. On the north side of Surf, the Karaoke bar has reopened along with the furniture stores. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is rebuilding and expects to open by the end of the month. Totonno’s on Neptune Avenue is also rebuilding, though no reopening date has been announced. Wildwood Chicken along with Domino’s Pizza and the deli in the plaza on Neptune Avenue at West 12th are open. Today, Coney Island Gyro on Neptune Avenue announced they would be reopening on November 26: “Opening back up to feed the hungry public on Monday…can’t wait to see everybody’s face!!”
When we passed by Gargiulo’s century-old Italian restaurant and catering hall on Saturday, a dumpster was being parked out front. Cars destroyed by Sandy were being towed in and out of the restaurant’s parking lot for insurance agents to inspect. More good news today: Gargiulo’s announced via twitter that they would reopen on December 1st…
So the countdown begins … December 1st – we'll be open again!! We'll be a work in progress – good food & more memories – lets start a buzz—
Gargiulo's (@gargiulos) November 23, 2012
Coney Island’s amusement rides including Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park are closed for the winter and will reopen as usual on Palm Sunday, which is March 24, 2013. See comments section below for updates by readers. We will also post updates on stores and businesses here as time and space allow:
November 25, 2012: Footprints Cafe, home of Rasta Pasta and one of our longtime fave dining spots in Coney, tweeted that they’ll reopen on December 31st. The first New Year’s Eve celebration that we know of on Surf Avenue! Update January 7, 2013: Reopening has been delayed for a couple of weeks.
December 1, 2012: Remas Gourmet deli and Hot Food in the old Terminal Hotel building at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues has reopened. Also….
December 18, 2012: In “Restoring Our Church of Pizza: The Rebuilding and Repairing of Totonno’s After Hurricane Sandy,” food blog Serious Eats reports that Totonno’s Pizzeria hopes to re-open by mid-January. Check out the photos and in-depth story on the family’s efforts by Chris Crowley here.
December 20, 2012: Peggy O’Neill’s on Surf Avenue reopened today. On New Year’s Day, their annual party after the Polar Bear Swim starts at 1pm with entertainment by Cardone and Adam RealMan from 3pm.
December 30, 2012: On New Year’s Eve, good news from Cha Cha’s of Coney Island…
We are in plans to re-open! By spring.—
ChaCha's ConeyIsland (@ChaChasSurfave) December 31, 2012
January 7, 2013: Subway Sandwich Shop in Stillwell Terminal has reopened.
February 6, 2013: Cha Cha’s on Surf Avenue in Coney Island “Officially Closed”
February 15, 2013: Williams Candy Moves Next Door During Post-Sandy Renovation
February 27, 2013: Dunkin Donuts in Stillwell Terminal to reopen in March.
February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback
March 5, 2013: Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue Four Months After Sandy
Related posts on ATZ…
March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day
December 10, 2012: Coney Island Nonprofits Begin to Raise Funds After Sandy
December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island
November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy