John ‘Cha Cha’ Ciarcia’s Funny Face Logo, Coney Island.
The official name of the new amusement park set to open on Thor Equities Stillwell lot in Coney Island is Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, according to an announcement yesterday by restaurant and club owner John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia. His Club Atlantis, which was evicted from the Boardwalk at the end of last season, is making a comeback on Stillwell, too. Given that signs briefly appeared on the lot with a Tilyouesque Funny Face resembling Cha Cha heralding the return of his Club Atlantis, perhaps we should have seen this branding campaign coming when we wrote “Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello Steeplechase Park”(ATZ, March 5, 2012).
All smiles–The ‘funny face’ Steeplechase caricature, 1951. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection.
George C. Tilyou’s “Funny Face,” variations of which are used to promote a slew of Coney Island products and businesses today, was original to his Steeplechase Park (1897-1964) and inspired New Jersey’s “Tillie.” The world-famous park was billed as “The Funny Place, Where 10,000 People Laugh at One Time.” Word on the street is that the new Steeplechase Park’s ride tickets will be emblazoned with the Coney Island Cha Cha logo. The lot was leased to the BK Festival for last summer’s flea market and this season’s combination of amusement rides, games and food, along with a smaller selection of merchandise vendors.
There will also be a Cha Cha’s Kiddie Park and Cha Cha’s Side Show Park on Thor’s Surf Avenue lots and Cha Cha’s outdoor Club Atlantis Bar on Stillwell. His former Boardwalk location, which is now leased to Tom’s Restaurant of Prospect Heights, was the site of the original Club Atlantis. The return of Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis and an outdoor bar resembling Beer Island marks the return of all of the bar and restaurant owners who were part of the “Coney Island Boardwalk 8” evicted by Zamperla. It comes at a time that both Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, who were offered leases after the initial evictions, are getting their renovated Boardwalk spaces ready to open on Memorial Day Weekend. Gyro Corner Clam Bar has a location at 12th Street and the Bowery. Steve’s Grill House moved to Thor’s Surf Avenue lot at Henderson Walk.
Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria in the former Surf N Turf Grill debuted on Easter Sunday. The Surf Avenue spot will have its grand opening on May 19 with special guest host Vincent Pastore of “The Sopranos” and a live performance by Killer Joe and the Mighty Lido Soul Quartet. Full press release below.
Cha Cha’s Surf Avenue Bar and Grill, Coney Island
CONEY ISLAND MAINSTAY “CHA CHA” BACK IN A BIG WAY
NEW AMUSEMENT PARK “MEGAWHIRL” DEBUT & PRESS CONFERENCE SET FOR MAY 24TH
Long time Coney Island personality John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia , who many know from his role on The Sopranos and his co-hosting of The Wiseguys Show on Sirius Radio, is back better than ever this year, just in time for the kick-off of the summer season, with several different businesses and amusement park lots, after being unceremoniously “booted” off the boardwalk last year in the very public rent/lease dispute with the giant Zamperla USA Corporation, which also affected several other longtime Coney Island business owners.
John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia and actor friend Tony Danza will preside over the official launch ceremony/press conference on Thursday, May 24th at 12 noon to announce the official grand opening of the new Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria (at 1315 Surf Ave.), the exclusive world debut of new amusement park ride The MegaWhirl, which was just developed and is the only one of its kind in the world, Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, Cha Cha’s Kiddie Park and Cha Cha’s Side Show Park (3 parks in total), along with Cha Cha’s outdoor Club Atlantis Bar……all located along Stillwell Ave. between Surf Ave. and the boardwalk.
All these businesses combined now give John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia more business space and amusement park lot space than any other one business owner in Coney Island.
As part of the official launch ceremony/press conference on Thursday, May 24th at 12 noon, the exclusive new MegaWhirl ride, the first one of its kind in the world, is making its debut at the family friendly Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, which has about eight rides in all, presented in association with BK Festivals. The MegaWhirl, a large flat ride, combines elements of the classic Whip with the Tilt-a-Whirl, and was developed jointly by Jonathan Gordon of Gordon Rides, LLC and Jeff Novotny of Larson International, Inc.” Gordon created the MegaWhirl as “a family thrill for kids, their parents, and everyone in between.”
All three parks……Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, Cha Cha’s Kiddie Park and Cha Cha’s Side Show Park, along with Cha Cha’s outdoor Club Atlantis Bar (with a full bar) are all accessible from Stillwell Ave or from Surf Ave. Ciarcia wanted his ride parks to reflect the nostalgic, classic feel of the original Coney Island, so he brought in Artie Gillette at Castle Rock Amusements for some classic rides like the Retro-Scooter Bumper Cars, the old classic Himalaya, the Bavarian Fun House, etc.
In preparing for the 2012 summer season, Ciarcia first took over the old Coney Island Surf and Turf Grill on Surf Ave. and completely revamped the large restaurant space, which includes the only brick pizza oven in the Coney Island Boardwalk area, a full bar and has even built a stage for live music performances.
The space is now called Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria (at 1315 Surf Ave.) with a full menu serving brick oven pizza, various seafood dishes, linguini and clam sauce, mussels, Coney Island crab cakes, clams/oysters/shrimp at the raw bar and featuring live music several nights a week & special events. The new space also has an adjoining take-out cafe right next door, serving the brick oven pizza and various gelatos, frozen custard, frozen yogurt and Italian ices. Ciarcia plans to keep Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria open year round after this summer season.
The official Grand Opening Party for Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria will take place on Saturday, May 19th from 7pm on, with special guest host The Sopranos Vincent Pastore and a live performance by Killer Joe and the Mighty Lido Soul Quartet.
Memorial Day Weekend will feature Bobby Valli and the Jersey Boys Revue, doing a “Tribute to The Jersey Boys,” on Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th, with three shows a night at 8pm, 10pm and midnight. There is a $10 cover charge and a 2-drink minimum, or $25 per person for dinner.
** Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria is at 1315 Surf Ave. in Coney Island. Phone 718-946-1305 for reservations or more information.
Related posts on ATZ…
May 1, 2012: MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island
April 19, 2012: Rides Return to Thor’s Stillwell Lots for 1st Time Since 2008
April 7, 2012: Cheers! First Drink at Relocated Cha Cha’s of Coney Island
March 5, 2012: Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello “Steeplechase Park”
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