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Posts Tagged ‘arcade’

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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Rolling Stones Pinball Machine

Rolling Stones Pinball Machine at Margarita Island, Coney Island. May 26, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Pinball is back in Coney. It’s only one table–the Rolling Stones (Stern 2011)– but most New York bars with pinball machines have one or two, according to the New York City Pinball Map. The location is Margarita Island, the newly opened bar at 1205 Bowery that is the successor to Beer Island. There’s a Boxer and a few other arcade machines in the indoor bar adjacent to the patio.

Coney Island has arcades with redemption games galore–The Eldorado on the Bowery, under Deno’s Wonder Wheel, and at Luna Park–but no pinball. Back in 2011, Ruby’s and the Freak Bar each had one table, and Carl Muraco’s Game World on Surf Avenue had two. All were destroyed by Sandy.

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March 30, 2014: Spring Reading: “Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Machine”

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November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

August 15, 2011: Games: Where You Can Play Vintage Pinball Year Round

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Arcade Sign

Arcade Sign, Thor Equities Building at Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island, July 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the Alliance for Coney Island Gala last Thursday, ATZ stopped by Thor Equities’ table to network. Seriously, it was a great opportunity to find out the answer to a question that’s been on our mind since last season. Will there be arcade machines in Thor’s retail building this year? The building has gorgeously lit, expensive signage for two arcades where there’s nothing but “Retail Space for Lease” signs. As we’ve noted previously, it makes a mockery of the City’s 2009 rezoning requiring a percentage of amusements on the property. The dummy arcades are our pet peeve.

Good news! Glenn Vogel, Director of Leasing for Thor Equities told ATZ that one of the two arcades had been leased and will open for business this spring. The reason the arcades were not previously leased, despite many inquiries, was that Thor wanted to put something new and different in the space, Vogel explained. We promised to be the first one there to play on the arcade’s opening day!

BurgerFi

BurgerFi Cheeseburger. Photo via BurgerFi Facebook

The other piece of news that Vogel was able to confirm is the rumor that’s been floating around Coney Island that BurgerFi is coming to the Stillwell Avenue side of Thor’s building. The Delray Beach, Florida-based burger and hot dog chain has reportedly leased the vacant store between Brooklyn Rock and the Brooklyn Nets, which will put them right across the street from Nathan’s and around the corner from a Johnny Rockets. Thor’s building’s roof deck, which hasn’t been used with the exception of a private party last summer, is part of the deal.

Launched in 2011, BurgerFi now has 62 locations, including franchisees. According to their franchising FAQs:

Our natural burgers are a healthful, wholesome and guilt free indulgence made from fresh, never frozen natural Angus beef that is hormone and antibiotic free and raised humanly to create the best tasting burger possible. All beef dogs, real dairy fresh frozen custard and fresh cut fries, as well as craft beer and wine, are all served up in our urban hip design setting.

BurgerFi is the latest national chain to come to the new Coney Island. Back in 2012, ATZ asked “Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?” (December 19, 2012). Clearly, the answer is yes. Like attracts like. In 2014, Johnny Rockets, Red Mango, Rita’s Italian Ice and Subway Cafe, which are currently under construction, are expected to join It’Sugar, Applebee’s, Popeye’s, Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins and Subway on the main drag of Coney’s amusement district. Also on Surf and in a category unto themselves are Nathan’s original 1916 store, which is a year-round magnet for tourists, and Brooklyn-grown Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.

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

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

April 11, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Wampum Clothing & Skate Pop-Up to Open in May

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

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Grashorn Building

Thor Equities Vacant & Shuttered Grashorn Building. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

For the past two weeks, the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been abuzz with the rumor that Thor Equities-owned Grashorn Building, Coney Island’s oldest structure, is set to be demolished. Though you’d never guess to look at it today, the building dates back to the 1880s and predates Coney’s first amusement parks, which were built in the 1890s.

We can’t confirm the rumor, there’s no demolition order for 1104 Surf on the DOB’s website. Thankfully. Not yet. But we’d be remiss not to mention it. In the past, there’s been a lag on updates to the DOB site when for example, Thor’s teardown of the Henderson Music Hall at the end of the 2010 season caught people by surprise as the asbestos abatement that preceded the demo got underway.

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

The Grashorn rumor started as Gameworld moved out of their Surf Avenue storefront, where the arcade had relocated the year after losing their spot in the then soon-to-be demolished Henderson Building. Known as Faber’s Fascination because of the vintage bare bulb sign from the earlier Fascination parlor, the Henderson arcade was one of the few businesses open year round in Coney Island’s amusement district. Not only are there no year-round arcades in Coney Island today, there are signs on Thor’s new building touting “ARCADE” where there is nothing but retail space for rent.

After auctioning off some of the Gameworld arcade machines, owner Carl Muraco moved the rest to a newly leased space on the Bowery. Owned by Jeff Persily, the location is next-door to the lot where Coney Island Arcade was before it burned down in 2010. Gameworld is expected to reopen next season.

Grashorn Rendering Save Coney Island

In June 2010, Save Coney Island’s rendering imagined what the Grashorn could become if it was preserved, restored and reused. Via SaveConeyIsland.net

The Jones Walk side of the Grashorn building has been vacant since 2008, as ATZ reported in “The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks.” In the summer of 2010, Save Coney Island published renderings showing the potential of the building if restored, but their plan to create a Coney Island Historic District along Surf Avenue was crushed by Sitt’s demolition of all but one of his historic buildings. Only the Grashorn remains.

Originally Henry Grashorn’s hardware store, the Grashorn building later housed shooting galleries, arcades, and cotton candy and taffy stands. Considered too “altered” to win landmark protection by the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the vacant, deteriorating building has been a victim of the continuing decimation of the amusement area by Thor CEO Joe Sitt. It may not survive in the New Coney Island. Demolition by neglect?

UPDATE December 9, 2013:

On Saturday, we were alarmed to receive a call about men in hazmat suits starting interior demolition on Thor Equities-owned Grashorn. Asked by a pedestrian if there was danger, a worker replied they were doing demolition. As it turns out, the demo crew was working next door to the Grashorn building where Henry Grashorn’s hardware store was in the 1880s. They are doing interior demo in the neighboring space that was G. Grashorn’s Groceries. The work continued through the weekend. There are no permits posted, nor are there any work permits on the DOB website for the buildings at 1102-1106 Surf Avenue. Anonymous tipsters sent us these photos:
“Thor’s Coney Island: Weekend Work for Hazmat Men,” ATZ, December 8, 2013

Grashorn Building

Grashorn Building, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. July 12, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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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

April 10, 2011: Men in Black 3 Rescues Coney Island’s Oldest Building

September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years

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Thor's Coney Island

Shoes galore at Rainbow Shops in Thor Equities Retail Ride of a Lifetime building in the New Coney Island. June 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The latest chain store to invade Coney Island’s amusement district has opened and it is neither “hip” nor “glitzy,” words used by the mainstream media in recent weeks to describe the chainification of Coney’s Surf Avenue. Over the weekend, Rainbow Shops, which sells discount clothing and shoes, opened on the Stillwell Avenue side of Thor Equities’ “Retail Ride of a Lifetime” Building, across the street from Nathan’s Famous. Shoot Out the Star, Basketball, Balloon Dart and Water Racing as well as the Fascination Arcade were among the amusements in the Henderson Building, which was on this corner until Thor CEO Joe Sitt demolished it in 2010.

This is the new retail building flaunting two ARCADE signs but no arcades, despite the fact that 15% of amusement frontage was required by zoning regulations to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy from the City. We wrote about this sham last week. The “ARCADES” remain vacant. Apparently, having an ARCADE in name only is fine with the City. Anything goes as long as Thor’s Coney Island has shoes galore!

ARCADE

ARCADE sign on Thor Equities Retail Building with No Arcade on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. June 1, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The 2,500 square foot Rainbow Shop, the maximum size allowed by the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009, is filled with aisle after aisle of shoes in shoeboxes, just like a warehouse outlet. It’s as if the store owners expected the “PEDESTRIANS GALORE” (“4.7 million subway riders visit Coney Island every year, 13 million people visit the beach every season and over 100,000 people visit Coney Island’s Luna Park on the 4th of July!”) touted in Thor Equities property description to arrive shoeless.

Flea by the Sea

Shoes Galore at Anchor Store # 7 at Joe Sitt’s Flea by the Sea. July 12, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In 2008, Thor Equities dismal flea market on the Coney lot where the Tornado Roller Coaster once thrilled had vendors selling clothing and shoes, both new and used. At the time, it was a reminder that Joe Sitt’s pitch book unsuccessfully used to lobby Borough President Marty Markowitz for 10,000 square foot retail touted flagship retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap/Banana Republic, and DSW (“Thousands of shoes…prices you love”). Now it appears to have been a dress rehearsal for Rainbow Shops. The Brooklyn-headquartered retailer has 28 stores in Brooklyn and over 1,000 locations nationwide.

Rainbow Shop

Rainbow Shop on Stillwell Ave opposite Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island. June 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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June 12, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Retail Ride of a Lifetime’s Phantom Arcade

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May 4, 2011: Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME”

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

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ARCADE

ARCADE sign on Thor Equities Building on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. June 1, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When the shimmery signs for the new pop-up shops went up on Thor Equities’ retail building on Stillwell Avenue, a sign with larger lettering promising ARCADE and a Steeplechase Park Funny Face, Coney’s symbol of merriment, took center stage. But there is no amusement arcade with coin-operated games in Joe Sitt’s “Retail Ride of a Lifetime” Building in Coney Island. It’s a phantom. The door, decorated with a sign advertising Retail Space Available, leads to a vacant space, maybe 10 by 15 feet, that would fit several machines at the most. Sources tell ATZ the arcade use was required to obtain the C of O for the building from the City. Why not get it up and running? Joey Coney Island’s Arcade! There are actually two of these phantom arcades –one on the Stillwell Ave. side of the Building, the other on Surf next to It’Sugar candy chain.

Before the season got underway, at least three Coney Island amusement operators were approached to put games in the building. Sources say an agreement could not be reached because Thor wanted a high rent and the amusement operators proposed revenue sharing, which is standard for owners of arcade equipment placing machines in restaurants and retail locations. Ironically, all but one of the retail tenants in the new building are believed to have revenue-sharing arrangements in lieu of rent, according to the Coney Island Rumor Mill.

Surf and Stillwell

Thor Equities Retail Building at Surf and Stillwell, Coney Island. May 29, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On either side of the tiny nonexistent “arcade” are 2,500 square foot retail spaces, the maximum allowed by the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009. However, the zoning requires 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.” A measly 15 per cent! “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.

Use Group C, which covers retail and service uses, is what we can expect to see more of in Thor’s Coney Island. The pop-up shops include clothing and T-shirt boutiques Wampum NY and Brooklyn Rocks, Coney Island Convenience Shop, and the Brooklyn Nets Shop on the Bowery. Candy retailer It’Sugar on Surf Avenue is believed to have a longer lease.

The next chain store to arrive in Coney Island’s amusement district is Rainbow, which sells clothing for juniors, plus sizes, and children, as well as shoes. They’re set to open on the Stillwell side of Thor’s building, across the street from Nathan’s Famous. The Brooklyn-headquartered retail chain has 28 other stores in Brooklyn and over 1,000 locations nationwide.

Other chains coming to Coney Island are Applebee’s, Johnny Rockets, Red Mango and Checkers franchises, which signed leases with various property owners on the north side of Surf Avenue. Until the early 1980′s that side of Surf was home to individually-owned penny arcades and a variety of rides including bumper cars, carousels and even a Jumbo Jet-style coaster. The last ride on the north side of Surf– Coney Island’s B & B Carousell —closed in 2005 and is now located in the new Steeplechase Plaza on the Boardwalk.

UPDATE June 13, 2013

Nobody ever said life was fair, but the first word that comes to mind here is DESPICABLE. Remember Maritza, who was evicted from Thor Equities soon-to-be demolished Henderson Building in 2010? She’s had a souvenir store in various spots in Coney for oh, about 25 to 30 years. ATZ wrote about her again in April when she moved her gift shop/convenience store into Thor’s Retail Ride of A Lifetime building (“Thor’s Coney Island: Evicted Souvenir Shop Returns to Its Spot,” ATZ, April 19, 2013).

Well, it turns out Maritza is the ONLY one in Thor’s building who is actually paying rent, in the tens of thousands of dollars, too. The veteran shopkeeper was not offered the 15 per cent of sales deal that the brand-name newcomers from small shops like Wampum NYC and Brooklyn Rocks to the chain It’Sugar and the Brooklyn Nets Store were given. Guess we’ll have to go back and update the December post about Joe Sitt’s press release “To Add Local Flavor To Coney Island By Leasing Major Surf Avenue Parcels To Local Brooklyn Merchants At Reduced Rents For 2013.” There’s nobody more local than Maritza. Rip up the lease and give her the break you’re giving everyone else, Joe!

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June 7, 2013: Coney Flea Market Coming to Childs Building on Boardwalk

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

May 4, 2011: Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME”

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

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Grandma and Zoltar

Grandma’s Predictions and Zoltar at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island, July 2012

The venerable, circa 1923 “Grandma’s Predictions” has been telling fortunes under Coney Island’s 1920 Wonder Wheel all her life. A couple of seasons ago a brand-new Zoltar was brought in to keep her company and proved very popular with visitors to the arcade. Hurricane Sandy soaked both of them, and decapitated poor Zoltar. A new Zoltar Speaks machine was promptly ordered and is already here, but Grandma, an irreplaceable antique as well as a good luck charm for the three generations of the Vourderis family who have owned the park, was sent off to be restored.

Last night these riveting videos of Grandma’s wax head getting “eye surgery” at National Jukebox Exchange appeared on YouTube. The octogenarian tarot card reader is also getting new wax hands cast from the original mold, according to arcade restorer John Papa. He appears in the video along with fellow arcade restorer Bob Yorburg, who told ATZ that Grandma will get a new wig, dress and cabinet, too. The rare arcade piece is known as the “Cleveland Grandma” by collectors since she was built by the William Gent Manufacturing Company in Cleveland, “Grandma’s Predictions” is expected to come home to Coney Island on Mother’s Day, where a welcome home party will be held at Deno’s Wonder Wheel.

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