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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Lobster roll Paul's Daughter

Lobster rolls are new on the menu at Paul’s Daughter. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Lobster roll aficionados are advised to run right over to Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island to try the newest addition to their menu — and currently available weekends only– delectable chunks of Maine lobster packed into a toasted bun. ATZ tasted one of the Boardwalk eatery’s much-anticipated lobster rolls on Saturday, having been given a heads up by store owner Tina Georgoulakos. Tina and her family have been working on the recipe for months. The delicate sauce has a secret ingredient that enhances the naturally sweet and succulent taste of the lobster. If the store’s beloved Mama Burger figure doesn’t get her lost burger back, maybe she could hold a lobster roll instead?

Paul's Daughter

Bartender and counterman at the lobster bar at Paul’s Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Tina’s father Paul Georgoulakos aka “The Chief” co-founded the restaurant formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s in 1962 and still supervises its clam bar. The renovated building, which was originally one of hot dog inventor Charles Feltman‘s restaurants, remains a masterpiece of vernacular signage. Among our favorites signs are the counterman’s cry “Hey! Get It Get It!” and the dapper Mr. Shrimp.

While Papa Burger, an A & W Root Beer figure from the 1960s, still anchors the Luna Park side of the building’s rooftop, Mama Burger remains flat on her back since Superstorm Sandy. The eight-foot-tall fiberglass figure got knocked over — at first she was thought to be missing– and her hamburger and Brooklyn Brewery mug blew away.

Paul Georgoulakos Mama Burger

Behind the Bar at Paul’s Daughter: Poster of Paul in His Store in 1954 and Mama Burger T-Shirt by Brooklyn Brewery. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The Brewery has come up with a T-shirt to pay tribute to Mama Burger and raise funds toward her restoration. “They have a real love for Mama Burger,” says Tina, who recalls how one day her father took a Brooklyn Brewery sign and stuck it on the figure’s beer mug. “I have to find people who can restore her.” Back in 2011, when Paul’s Daughter lost their lease –the store has since signed an 8-year deal to stay put–ATZ wrote about Mama and Papa Burger, which have been part of Coney’s skyline since the 1970s and are considered rare examples of roadside Americana.

What else is new this season at Paul’s Daughter? In the next couple of weeks, LEDs will outline the top part of the building, says Tina. “We’re getting blue LEDs that look like neon.”

Paul's Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk

Paul’s Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk. June 7, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

April 12, 2013: Photo of the Day: Clams on the Half Shell in Coney Island

October 31, 2012: Missing in Storm: Have You Seen Coney’s Mama Burger?

July 17, 2012: 50 Years on Coney Island Boardwalk for Paul & His Daughter

May 22, 2012: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!

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Little Caesars

Little Caesars $5 Pizza at Thor’s Retail Building at Surf and Stillwell. May 31, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The latest chain to put its name on the glittering marquee of Thor Equities building in the new Coney Island is Little Caesars Pizza. Over Memorial Day Weekend, there was a cart selling Little Caesars “Hot-n-Ready” $5.00 pizzas in front of Thor’s building at Surf and Stillwell. The price was right and they sold out. Afterwards, signs remained taped to the outside of the window advertising the food franchise. We wondered if it was a tryout by a franchisee or guerrilla marketing. The official sign for “Little Caesars Express” went up last week. The Detroit-based Little Caesars is the nation’s third largest pizza chain with over 35 locations in New York City. It joins Applebee’s, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Rita’s Italian Ice, It’Sugar and Rainbow Shops in making Surf and Stillwell a new mecca for chains and franchises.

What’s up with the vacant “ARCADE” next door? According to the Coney Island Rumor Mill, an arcade operator has agreed to fill the building’s two dummy arcades with games but paperwork issues are delaying the deal. No surprise there. Making a mockery of the zoning laws, the designated “arcades” have remained vacant ever since the building’s first tenant, Miami candy chain It’Sugar, opened last year. The 2009 Coney Island Rezoning requires the building to have a percentage of amusements equal to the square footage allocated for the arcades. If something other than amusements went into the space, the building’s C of O would be in jeopardy.

Why doesn’t Thor CEO Joe Sitt just throw some arcade machines in the “arcades” and open them up to the public instead of taking advantage of what appears to be a loophole in the zoning law that allows the spaces to remain vacant? Based on Sitt’s eviction of amusements from his property (“Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt,” ATZ, March 3, 2010), it’s our opinion that he’s not in any hurry to replace them.

The zoning states that “At least 15 percent of the Stillwell Avenue and West 10th Street street frontage of any zoning lot shall be occupied by Use Group A1 uses at the ground floor level.” Use Group “A1″ includes amusement arcades as well as open booths with games of skill or chance, such as water racing and shooting galleries, which used to occupy the spot in the demolished Henderson Building where the Brooklyn Nets Shop is now.

Related posts on ATZ…

March 11, 2014: Thor’s Coney Island: BurgerFi, Arcade Coming to Stillwell & Surf

October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

September 2, 2013: The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks

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

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Rita's Coney Island

Rita’s Coney Island closed on the Sabbath, May 31, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Rita’s of Coney Island, which sells Italian ice and frozen custard, has new hours after the premises were kosher certified by the Orthodox Union. The store at Surf Avenue and West 15th Street will be closed for the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown on Fridays till sundown on Saturdays, store owner Ezra Shalam told ATZ. While it’s unprecedented for a Coney Island business to be closed during Friday night fireworks and Saturday afternoons, the store has a growing clientele that reaches beyond seasonal visitors to the amusement park. In the few weeks that Rita’s has been open it has already become a destination for Jewish residents of Brooklyn who are seeking kosher ices.

“We have a very big Jewish following. I even underestimated the reach,” said Shalam, who expected residents of Sea Gate, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay to patronize the store, which is the only Rita’s in Brooklyn. “We’re getting customers from Flatbush, Midwood and Borough Park,” Shalam adds. Customers are traveling from a distance and taking home tubs of Rita’s ices.

Rita's Coney Island

Students from Yeshiva Magen David High School SGO bringing Rita’s to school. Photo via Ritas’s Coney Island Facebook

“Rita’s Coney Island products are OU certified as we have stated since we opened. Our store itself was in the process of being certified. However it took some time as the OU is very thorough,” says a post on Rita’s Facebook page. Last week, a follower on Instagram had falsely claimed that Rita’s products were not kosher and the accusations caused a stampede of phone calls and Facebook messages. The certification of the store was fast tracked by the OU at the owner’s request and finalized on Friday. Since Shalam is an Orthodox Jew, the store is now required to close on the Sabbath, when Coney Island is at its busiest.

Rita’s Coney Island franchise opened on April 13th and will remain open through mid-October. The store is located on the north side of Surf Avenue across the street from the newly built Thunderbolt roller coaster. In the New York metro area, Rita’s year-round locations are on Broadway at 92nd Street in Manhattan – the only other store in New York City –and several locations in New Jersey

Rita's Coney Island

Ice Guy, Rita’s Costumed Character, on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo via Rita’s Coney Island Facebook

Related posts on ATZ…

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays, Six Saturdays, and More

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

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

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LunaTics Ice Cream

Opening Day at LunaTics Ice Cream on Surf Avenue. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday, several new businesses and exhibits opened for the season, with some operators pulling all nighters in the race to be ready for the start of Memorial Day Weekend. Among them was LunaTics Ice Cream, located in the former Island Grocery on the south side of Surf Avenue. Dennis Corines, who operated Denny’s Ice Cream a few doors away on Surf from the 1970’s until he sold his building to Coney Island USA in 2011, is a consultant to store owner Shaukat Mian.

LunaTics Ice Cream Coney Island

Denny’s Banana Pistachio at LunaTics Ice Cream. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday they offered us a banana pistachio which tasted exactly like the last one we had in the summer of 2012, when CIUSA operated Denny’s. That’s not so long ago, but since Denny’s was destroyed by Sandy and the building is now occupied by an antique shooting gallery, we never expected to taste it again. Delicious!

LunaTics Ice Cream

Dennis Corines former owner of Denny’s Ice Cream and Shaukat Mian former operator of Island Grocery. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Shaukat Mian owns the building at 1224 Surf and operated Island Grocery at the location for 13 years. His brand-new business offers a menu similar to Denny’s. There’s soft serve ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, banana and pistachio, as well as hard ice cream, Italian ices, shakes, and cotton candy, popcorn, jelly apples and funnel cake.

The Face of Steeplechase Coney Island History Project

Charles Denson with detail of “The Face of Steeplechase” exhibit at the Coney Island History Project. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

At the non-profit Coney Island History Project on West 12th Street, a new exhibit pays tribute to the ubiquitous symbol of Coney Island, George C. Tilyou’s “Funny Face.” Variations of the Face are used to promote a slew of Coney Island products and businesses today and inspired New Jersey’s “Tillie” but it was original to Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park (1897-1964). Curated by Coney Island historian Charles Denson and featuring rare photos from his archives, the exhibit commemorates the 50th anniversary of the closing of Steeplechase and the 100th anniversary of Tilyou’s death.

The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!

Photo of the Blowhole Theater from “The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!” at the Coney Island History Project

According to the exhibit notes and the photos, the Face was originally believed to be a caricature of Tilyou’s brother Edward and underwent many changes during the park’s lifetime. “Sometimes it was a gleeful, maniacal visage,” writes Denson. “At other times, it appeared as inscrutable as the Mona Lisa.” “The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!” opened on Saturday and is on view weekends and holidays through Labor Day. Admission is free of charge.

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co.

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co. In Thor Equities Building on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co. opened on Saturday after getting their custom-made sign up on the building in the wee hours of the morning. It’s located on the Stillwell Avenue side of Thor Equities building in a space leased by Wampum last summer. Owned by Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad, the store will sell private label clothing. The spinoff of Brooklyn Beach Shop will be the fifth store owned by the Haddad family in Coney Island, where they have operated retail shops since 1996.

Surf & Stillwell partners Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad

Surf & Stillwell partners Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad

The new store is across the avenue from Nathan’s as well as the Coney Island Beach Shop, which Maya and Yaniv’s father Haim Haddad opened in 2002. Brooklyn Beach Shop has locations on the Boardwalk and inside Stillwell Terminal. Nathan’s Gift Shop on the Boardwalk is also operated by the Haddads, who have a licensing agreement with Nathan’s. Surf & Stillwell is the only new store so far this year in Thor’s retail building. Current tenants are It’Sugar, Brooklyn Rock, Rainbow Shops and the Brooklyn Nets.

Fred Kahl Scan-O-Rama

Fred Kahl at his Scan-O-Rama Booth. May 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Last summer, we wrote about Fred Kahl’s futuristic 3-D portrait studio in a former fortuneteller’s booth in Coney Island. After raising more than $16,000 via Kickstarter to fund the project, he kept the studio open year-round and it remains open Saturdays from 12 till 5pm during the spring and summer. Duplicates of the 3-D portraits are featured in a populated scale model of Thompson and Dundy’s Luna Park circa 1914 which debuted on Saturday at the Coney Island Museum.

3D Luna Park by Fred Kahl

Fred Kahl’s 3D Luna Park Installation at Coney Island Museum. Photo via TheGreatFredini.com

“Luna Park has a special place in history, a witness to the society being transformed by technology. These are the themes that are relevant to us today as our world undergoes the third industrial revolution,” says Kahl whose impressive installation is the first phase of a work in progress. “Big sigh of relief, now I need to get printing the rest of Luna Park.” The exhibit is on view during museum hours, which are currently Friday through Sunday. Admission is $5.00.

Luna Park's White Castle Trailer

Luna Park’s White Castle Trailer on Wonder Wheel Way at Stillwell Avenue, May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

White Castle Express opened in Luna Park on Saturday at both the Cyclone Cafe and in the former Luna BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way. After breaking the news on Friday (“White Castle Sliders Coming to Coney Island,” ATZ May 23, 2014) we’re still baffled by the divergence of friends’ reactions–from mmmm to ugh. From comments on twitter, it’s clear WC has quite a following, probably because they’ve been in biz since 1921 and in New York since 1930. That puts them in a different category than chains like Johnny Rockets (“The Original Hamburger,” founded in 1986!) and other newbies. We tried some fries and the price was right for a quick snack. Only $2.19 for medium fries including tax.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

March 14, 2012: Coney Entrepreneurs to Open 1st Ever Nathan’s Gift Shop

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White Castle
White Castle, the legendary burger chain founded in 1921 in Kansas, will soon be serving their sliders in Coney Island’s Luna Park. On Thursday, samples of the little burgers were being given away in anticipation of the opening of what’s called White Castle Express. The food demonstration rep said the burgers would soon be available at locations in Luna Park including the BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way. (Update: White Castle burgers were available this afternoon at Luna Park’s Cyclone Cafe for 95 cents including tax.)

Earlier this year, the White Castle slider was named Time magazine’s most influential burger of all time in a poll of hamburger historians and experts. How will it fare in Coney, where Boardwalk mainstays Nathan’s, Tom’s, Ruby’s, and Paul’s Daughter have burgers on their menus, and Burger-Fi and Johnny Rockets are said to be on the way? Can a hamburger eating contest be far behind?

White Castle is a family-owned business based in Ohio that owns and operates more than 400 restaurants in 12 states including more than a dozen in New York City.

UPDATE May 24, 2014

White Castle Express was open in Luna Park on Saturday at both the Cyclone Cafe and in the former Luna BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way near Stillwell, one of five new businesses and exhibits opening over the weekend.

Luna Park's White Castle Trailer

Luna Park’s White Castle Trailer on Wonder Wheel Way at Stillwell Avenue, May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

September 23, 2013: Happy First Anniversary to Tom’s Coney Island!

September 7, 2013: Photo of the Day: Sweet Potato Fries at Ruby’s Bar & Grill

July 17, 2012: 50 Years on Coney Island Boardwalk for Paul & His Daughter

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Margarita Island

Site of Margarita Island, set to open on Coney Island’s Bowery at West 12th Street, on Memorial Day Weekend. May 10, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Remember Coney Island’s Beer Island, the popular outdoor bar where you could get sand in your shoes? The bar was one of the Boardwalk businesses evicted from City-owned property and closed down in 2011. On Memorial Day weekend, co-owner Carl Muraco is getting set to open its successor, Margarita Island, on the Bowery at West 12th Street. (Update: The ‘soft opening’ will be on Saturday, May 17th.)

The outdoor bar’s liquor license was issued a few days ago and a food truck specializing in Japanese teriyaki is already parked on site. New picnic tables are set up on the corner lot, which had been vacant since Coney Island Arcade burned down four years ago. The property is owned by Jeff Persily, who is also leasing the space next-door to Muraco for an arcade, formerly located in one of Thor’s buildings, and a bar.

The food truck Yume Teriyaki Grill offers a reasonably priced menu of teriyaki chicken, steak or fish served over white or brown rice, salads, and appetizers like gyoza and edamame. It’s one of the few food trucks in Coney Island since mobile food vending is restricted on the streets in and around the amusement area.

Yume Teriyaki Grill

Yume Teriyaki Grill Food Truck at site of Margarita Island Outdoor Bar, Coney Island. May 10, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The key to Beer Island’s success was serving a wide variety of beer in bottles and on tap–all for $5—on a sandy beach just a few steps from Coney’s shore. Blaring music, bikini-clad waitresses, and the fact that you could bring in food from any of the Boardwalk restaurants added to the party ambiance. Plus as one Yelper wrote: “I have seen some strange shit at Beer Island. One time some guy rolled up with a bunch of exotic animals: iguanas, parrots, pythons–all at the same time. He sat down at a table, scattered his animal kingdom cohorts about, ordered a beer and proceeded to let old ladies feed his massive iguana (what looked like) strawberries.”

This corner is already pretty strange. The freak show is across the street and so is the Saturn 6 ride. And the mysterious, homegrown 5D Cinema, which opened last summer, is back.

5D Cinema

5D Cinema, Coney Island. May 10, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

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

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

September 11, 2013: Subway Cafe to Replace Furniture Store on Coney Island’s Surf Ave

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/27469924@N06/5514450245/

Vintage Sign inside Denny’s Ice Cream, Coney Island. February 28, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In 2012 ATZ asked “Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?” (December 19, 2012). With a slew of chains and franchisees coming to the new, year-round Coney Island, the answer is yes, but two new Mom & Pops — Lunatics Ice Cream and Luna Park Cafe– are under construction and racing to open for business in May.

On the south side of Surf Avenue next to Popeye’s, the former Island Grocery is being transformed into a new walk-in shop called Lunatics Ice Cream. Dennis Corines, whose Denny’s Ice Cream operated on Surf from 1968 until he sold it to Coney Island USA and it was destroyed by Sandy, is a consultant to the owners. They’ll be bringing back his vanilla, chocolate and banana pistachio soft serve as well as cotton candy, popcorn, jelly apples and funnel cake. The projected opening date is May 15.

Coney Island Post-Sandy

Coney Island Post-Sandy: Interior Demolition of Storm-Ravaged Denny’s Ice Cream, Surf Avenue. November 17, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On the north side of Surf Avenue across from the Cyclone roller coaster, a new Mom & Pop eatery is under construction in one of the former furniture stores. Set to open as early as May 1st, the 2,400 square foot space is divided into three sections: pizzeria, frozen yogurt counter, and a cafe serving burgers and sandwiches. Co-owner Mike Kukaj tells ATZ that the name of the restaurant will be Luna Park Cafe.

Luna Park Cafe

Luna Park Cafe: New Cafe Under Construction on North Side of Surf Avenue. April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The original Luna Park (1903-1944) was on the north side of Surf Avenue, where Luna Park Houses and Luna Park Furniture are now. Until the early 1980′s the north side was home to individually-owned penny arcades and a variety of rides including bumper cars, carousels and even a Jumbo Jet-style coaster. Philips Candy Store, now located in Staten Island, was the anchor of Stillwell Terminal from 1930 until 2000 when the terminal was rebuilt and they had to move out.

By the time the last ride– Coney Island’s B & B Carousell —closed in 2005, the north side was known as the wrong side of Surf Avenue to locate a business because of the lack of foot traffic. Now it is home to Coney Island Bar & Grill, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Applebee’s, which has plans to open a sidewalk cafe.

Under Construction Surf Avenue

New Mom & Pop Business Under Construction on North Side of Surf Avenue, Its name will be “Luna Park Cafe.” April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the new chains and franchisees expected to open this year in Coney Island are Johnny Rockets, currently under construction on the north side of Surf, as well as Burger-Fi, Subway Cafe and Red Mango. Along with Applebee’s, It’Sugar and Rita’s Italian Ice are already open on Surf Avenue, and there are a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins and Subway in Stillwell Terminal.

Johnny Rockets

Building for Johnny Rockets Under Construction on Surf Avenue, Coney Island. April 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

September 11, 2013: Subway Cafe to Replace Furniture Store on Coney Island’s Surf Ave

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

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