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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

Photo © Tricia Vita

Stillwell Avenue and Bowery, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

It turns out that Dan Biederman’s consulting firm Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was hired by Thor Equities to manage and create programming for two lots in Coney Island. So what’s planned for Thor’s second long-vacant lot, on the Bowery across the street from where Coney Art Walls and Smorgasburg are set to debut? “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots.”

Since Thor bought the property in 2006 and emptied out the bumper boats, go karts and batting cages, the lot has seen sporadic use, most infamously in 2009 as the failed Flea by the Sea. Its tattered tents can be seen in the photo above.

As for game trailers coming to the lot and kiosks being offered for rent this season, as the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying for months: “There are no actual ‘kiosks’ in our plans on the east side of Stillwell, at least right now,” Donsky says. “But Gordon Lee of the Eldorado is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”

Balloon Dart on the Bowery, Coney Island

Balloon Dart, on the Bowery in Coney Island, May 26, 2008. This game did not reopen in 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Can the Bowery get its groove back? Or will it get a complete redo? Coney’s Bowery from West 12th Street to Stillwell is a ghost town compared to the crowds it used to attract, particularly since McCullough’s Kiddie Park got pushed out in 2012. As a measure of how much has changed, the spot where the old-school Balloon Dart was located in the demolished Henderson Building is now occupied by the Brooklyn Nets Shop in Thor’s retail building, where Wahlburger’s is opening a rooftop dining area that will overlook the festivities unfolding on the lots this summer.

Wahlburgers

Slated to open this summer, Wahlburgers will have a rooftop overlooking Thor’s Stillwell lots. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

May 6, 2015: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to Draw Portraits of Coney Island Residents for Coney Art Walls

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

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Artist and Brooklyn Resident Tatyana Fazlalizadeh will create a mural for Coney Art Walls

Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, best known for her public art project “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” put out a call on twitter today: “Brooklyn: I’m looking for Coney Island residents who’d like to potentially be portrayed in a mural I’ll be doing. Any gender or age!” In reply to ATZ’s query whether the work was going to be part of Coney Art Walls, a public art show curated by Jeffrey Deitch on Thor Equities lot on Coney’s Bowery, the artist replied via email with details:

Yes, it’s a part of Coney Island Walls. As one of the many artists who will be creating work, I want to be sure that Coney Island residents are represented in the show.

I’d like to sit with a few people from Coney Island to discuss their lives in the neighborhood. From there I will shoot their photograph and draw their portraits from those photographs. The drawings will then be printed at large scale and installed at the Coney Island Walls. I’d like to meet with people between now and May 19th. I only need about 5-6 people. I’ll be installing the piece during the first week on June.

This process is the same I use for my project, Stop Telling Women to Smile. STWTS focuses on gender based street harassment. The Coney Island piece will look like this (see picture below), with the text potentially being a quote about Coney Island from one of the participants.

If your zip code is 11224 and you would like your portrait to represent Coney Island in a show that is expected to be seen by millions of people this summer, contact the artist at tlynnfaz[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Mural from Stop Telling Women to Smile Project by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Related posts on ATZ…

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

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

January 21, 2010: Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg

805 Surf Avenue

Lot on the north side of Surf Avenue adjacent to the West 8th Street subway station in Coney Island. May 5, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion.com

The new owners of a long vacant lot on the north side of Surf Avenue directly across from the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island are seeking ideas for seasonal use. “We’re looking to do something in the short term,” Igor Oberman of PYE Properties told ATZ. Arts and crafts, food market, food trucks, and amusement attractions are a few of the possibilities.

“We’re brainstorming ideas as to what uses we could put the site this summer. It looks like Thor has got the food vendors to come out,” said Oberman, referring to the Smorgasburg vendors coming to Stillwell Avenue. “Any of your ideas would be appreciated.” Oberman may be reached at PYE Properties at igor[AT]pyeproperties[dot]com.

Over the past decade, the vacant lot, which has 140 feet of frontage on Surf and is 90 feet deep, has occasionally been used as a parking lot. For one day in 2011, the lot briefly hosted John Strong’s sideshow until the previous property owners abruptly did an about-face and went back to parking cars.

A kiddie ride park,a go kart track and a flea market housed in shipping containers have occupied the lot in the past. Bumper cars and other amusements were in the building on the site which was torn down in the 1950s. Until the early ’80s the north side of Surf Avenue was home to individually-owned penny arcades and a variety of rides including carousels and even a Jumbo Jet-style coaster.

805 Surf Avenue

Vacant lot at 805-825 Surf Avenue, on the north side of Surf across from the Cyclone in Coney Island, May 5, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion.com

The Surf Avenue lot at 805-825 Surf Avenue is Brighton Beach-based PYE Properties’ first acquisition in Coney Island. “We’re looking to develop it shortly,” Oberman said. According to the development company’s website, “PYE Properties is a full-service development company guided by our in-house team of result-driven real estate professionals whose expertise includes acquisition, design, development, construction and property management.”

Since the rezoning of Coney Island, the north side of Surf has seen restaurants such as Grimaldi’s, Applebee’s, and Subway Cafe rapidly replacing furniture stores and vacant lots. A Johnny Rockets franchise is under construction and IHOP signed a lease in February. Mom & Pops on the north side include Chill party space, Red Door Bar & Grill (formerly Coney Island Bar & Grill), and Piece of Velvet Cupcakes.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

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

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

USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015

Dignitaries on ‘Boardwalk’ made from Coney Island Boardwalk wood during May 1st opening ceremony of USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015. Photo via USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 Facebook

One day in the not too distant future, the wooden Coney Island Boardwalk may exist only in recycled form, far away from the People’s Playground, in venues frequented mostly by the privileged classes. The May 1st opening of the Milan Expo provides a window into that future. The Expo’s $60 million USA Pavilion boasts a 300-foot walkway said to be made of repurposed ipe wood from the Coney Island Boardwalk.

“The middle floor is a boardwalk, boardwalks have historically been avenues of food and community, and fun too!,” writes Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the President of the Friends of USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. “We were able to purchase the actual Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy.”

Milan Expo USA Pavilion Rendering

Architects rendering of Milan Expo’s USA Pavilion featuring a walkway of Coney Island Boardwalk wood. The $60 million pavilion project was privately funded by the James Beard Foundation, International Culinary Center and the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy. Biber Architects, New York

The project’s architect James Biber of Biber Architects, a New York City-based architecture firm, said in an interview on the Pavilion’s website that “Americans’ fascination with the road inspired our boardwalk concept, which is really the backbone of the whole experience. Visitors will take a trip through the USA Pavilion – up the boardwalk and back down – and constantly be on the move.”

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, wooden sections of the Brighton Beach end of the Boardwalk are being torn up to be replaced with a walkway made of recycled plastic lumber and a 10-foot wide concrete “carriage lane” for so-called “emergency vehicles.” The $10 million pilot project is seen as the City’s plan for the future of the entire boardwalk, except for a few blocks in the amusement district that will continue to be made of ipe wood.

And Coney Island’s heroic City Councilman Mark Treyger is trying to persuade the City’s Landmarks Commission that the Boardwalk should be declared a Scenic Landmark despite a previous rebuff.

Boardwalk

Boardwalk Reconstruction in Brighton Beach, where a new plastic and concrete ‘boardwalk’ is set for completion in May 2016. Photo by Lonnie Luchnick via Friends of the Boardwalk Facebook

The Parks Department’s page about the Coney Island Boardwalk Reconstruction at Brighton Beach says “Replacing this portion of the boardwalk (Coney Island Avenue to Brighton 15th Street) using hardwoods could destroy some 6,000 acres of tropical rainforest, while 45,200 acres would be destroyed to reconstruct the entire boardwalk.” But instead of opting for a treated wood such as Kebony, which has been used at Delaware’s Bethany Beach Boardwalk (Parks claims Kebony is “only available in Europe”), or a wood over concrete substructure like Ocean City, Maryland, the City went for the cheapest and least aesthetically pleasing –a concrete and plastic surface.

Boardwalk reconstruction

Parks Dept rendering of boardwalk reconstruction underway in Brighton Beach. a 10-foot-wide concrete carriage lane will be included in the 50-foot-wide boardwalk.

The Milan Expo project caught our eye a few months ago via a dramatically titled news story “Sandy-ravaged Coney Island boardwalk turned into showpiece.” Coney Island Boardwalk, the brand, commands attention, and rescuing discarded boards to make into something new and beautiful is commendable. But in fact, the Coney Island Boardwalk was NOT ravaged by Sandy but survived intact, though the same can’t be said for the neighborhood or Steeplechase Pier.

Berms built on the beach protected the boardwalk, which was inundated with sand that was shoveled into tidy piles and returned to the beach. We’re not sure who started the ravaged boardwalk myth but it enables Parks’ claim that plastic lumber was more resilient than wood during Sandy, a fact disputed by actual residents of the neighborhood. The producers of luxury products made from Coney boardwalk wood, including such trinkets as a $195 knife with an ipe handle, unwittingly perpetrate the myth in their blurbs.

Boardwalk after Sandy

Coney Island Boardwalk a few days after Sandy. November 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

In fact, the Parks Dept. has been giving away and/or selling the wood for several years in the course of redoing sections of the boardwalk. The wood was torn up before the storm so that a new concrete surface could go down at Sea Gate and Brighton. Some boards are removed during regular maintenance and replaced with new ipe. There will be plenty more wood to go around now that they’re tearing up the boards in Brighton in a pilot project that was infamously approved by the Public Design Commission despite popular opposition.

What the City of New York doesn’t want you to know, but anyone who lives or works along the boardwalk can tell you, is that the 2.51 mile pedestrian walkway is now routinely used as a roadway by Parks Department and NYPD vehicles, not just for emergencies. It is this everyday use which causes enormous wear and tear to the boards, which frequently pop up while whole sections cave in and have to be replaced.

Truck on Coney Island Boardwalk

The City of New York’s routine use of trucks and cars on the Coney Island Boardwalk causes wear and tear on the boards. The Parks Dept is starting to build a 10-foot wide concrete ‘carriage lane’ in Brighton Beach. Photo © Anonymouse

In June of 2012, months before Sandy, when the Barnes Foundation’s new museum opened with flooring made of Coney Island Boardwalk wood, an article in the NY Times explained how it got there: “The parks department says it tries to reuse what it can but then allows contractors to sell, discard or give away the rest. (The city makes no money from it.) That is how an architectural salvage company in Philadelphia came to haul away 20 trailer loads of Coney Island wood in 2010.”

While repurposing discarded lumber is eco-friendly and gives a building a LEEDS rating, there’s something incongruous about sending this heavy wood more than 4,000 miles to Italy for an expo trumpeting sustainability. “Indoor and outdoor decking made of salvaged Coney Island boardwalk lumber will eventually be re cycled again,” according to the US Pavilion’s Sustainability Fact Sheet. Well, good, so Europeans can enjoy decks made from Coney boardwalk wood too. Or it will be shipped 4,000 miles back home.

Save the Boardwalk Rally

Sign at rally to save boardwalk from becoming concrete: This is SUPPOSED to be the DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION not BLOOMBERG. January 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The People’s Playground and the people of New York have been getting buncoed. As one of the commenters said in the NY Times story from 2012: “So the wood, which was payed [sic] for with tax payer dollars, is given away for free and then sold and used in hi end furniture, restaurants and museums? These people and places with no real association to Coney Island now claim some connection to the fabled boardwalk. Because they bought the wood that I helped pay for that the city gave away.”

USA Pavilion at Milan Expo

Ambassadors stand on ‘Boardwalk’ made from Coney Island Boardwalk wood during May 1st opening ceremony of USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015. Photo via USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 Facebook

Related posts on ATZ…

January 19, 2015: An Historic First As Elected Officials Join Community’s Fight to Save Coney Island Boardwalk

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

Steve ESPO Powers

Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. Signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on Coney Island’s 12th St made by Powers in 2012

Goodbye vacant lots–at least temporarily–hello Coney Art Walls! Thor Equities has recruited a dream team that includes Jeffrey Deitch, art advisor and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and food vendors from Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg to help activate one of their long vacant lots in Coney Island. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV), the consulting firm run by Bryant Park’s Dan Biederman, was hired by Thor to develop events and programming for and manage the lot. There will also be a music stage with live performances throughout the summer.

Smorgasburg Coney Island will have a dozen food vendors operating restaurants out of remodeled shipping containers and two bars serving craft beer, wine and other drinks. Smorgasburg launched in 2011 as a spin-off of Brooklyn Flea, the popular flea market founded by Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby.

“Coney Art Walls will be an outdoor museum, featuring the most innovative street artists from the 1970s to the present,” said Jeffrey Deitch. The art walls will showcase work by famous street artists including Crash, Lee Quinones, Futura, Kenny Scharf, Miss Van, Lady Pink and Swoon. Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. His signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on West 12th St was installed in 2012. For Powers, whose Dreamland Artists Club created signage for Coney Island businesses in 2004 and 2005, only a few of which remain, it marks a return to a landscape changed by real estate speculation, redevelopment and the rezoning of 2009.

“Coney Island visitors need more comfortable places to sit and relax, and we see demand for new activities and programs that will build on the neighborhood’s rich history, and strengthen its reputation as an attraction unlike anything else in New York,” said Ben Donsky, senior project manager at Biederman Redevelopment Ventures. “We are delighted to be part of this wonderful redevelopment program.” The consulting firm’s clients include Bryant Park, the Grand Central Partnership, Fanueil Hall Marketplace, and Rye Playland.

Coney Art Walls 1320 Bowery Coney Island

Prep for ‘Coney Art Walls’ at Thor’s long vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s. April 30, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s is bordered by West 15th Street and the west side of Stillwell Avenue. Thor’s Stillwell properties were once home to amusements galore including the Tornado roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled ride from the New York World’s Fair (1941-1974) and Norman Kaufman’s Batting Cage and Go Kart City, which was forced to close when Sitt bought the property in 2006. Rezoned by the City for retail and entertainment, the lots were used for flea markets in 2009, 2011 and 2012, but remained vacant last year as well as in 2010 and 2013, when the City issued a stop-work order on a permit for “temporary parking for the amusement district.”

Set to begin in May, Coney Art Walls is expected to run at least through September.

UPDATE May 6, 2015:

Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was hired by Thor to manage programming for two lots. What are they planning for Thor’s second long-vacant lot, on the east side of Stillwell, across the street from where Coney Walls will be? “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots.”

As for game trailers coming to the lot and kiosks for rent, as the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying: “There are no actual ‘kiosks’ in our plans on the east side of Stillwell, at least right now,” Donsky says. “But Gordon Lee (of the Eldorado) is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”

Related posts on ATZ…

May 6, 2015: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to Draw Portraits of Coney Island Residents for Coney Art Walls

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

October 28, 2013: Photo Album: Banksy Brings His Robot to Coney Island

February 16, 2013: Photo Album: Post-Sandy MERCY Graffiti in Coney Island

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