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Posts Tagged ‘Countdown to Corporatization’

Gyro Corner/Clam Bar

Gyro Corner/Clam Bar, Coney Island. April 17, 2010. Photo © Lindsay Wengler

The packing up and moving out has begun for at least one of the Coney Island Boardwalk businesses. On Friday the owners of Gyro Corner Clam Bar removed their awning as well as the hand-painted signage to re-use at their second location at Bowery and West 12th Street. The good news is the popular sign featuring top-hatted clam waiters serving clams on the half shell will be back next season. Hey Joey!, the Dreamland Artist Club mural painted on the side of the building, is out of luck.

On Facebook, there were a flurry of comments– “noooooo,” “Already? WOW!!!” and “sad”– when news of the signage being taken down was posted by a friend. Some of the other stores are also starting to break down and throw stuff out while remaining open for business. Seven Mom & Pops must vacate the City-owned Boardwalk property by November 4, 2011. Unlike the other businesses Gyro’s owners have a second location in Coney Island, though it is much smaller than their Boardwalk restaurant. Last week we saw them pull off the signage from its facade.

Thanks to photographer Lindsay Wengler, whose photos documenting the Boardwalk storefronts and vernacular signage were mostly taken last fall, though her series “Coney Island in Flux” is an ongoing project. “Definitely was one of my favorites, ” says Lindsay of Gyro Corner’s facade. “When I heard the news about the boardwalk being threatened, I had to take a lot of photos of Gyro Corner and Paul’s Daughter so I could at least remember what they looked like.”

A farewell message to the businesses posted on her photoblog Single Linds Reflex last November 1st is just as relevant today: “The absence of these businesses will tremendously change the heart of Coney Island. I cannot imagine the boardwalk without the glorious, hand-painted signs and the distinct character each storefront provides.”

ATZ is saying goodbye to the “Coney Island 7″ Mom and Pops with a Photo (or Two) a Day from October 8 through November 4. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” for links to all of the photos.

summer(night)time, Gyro Corner Clam Bar, Coney Island. June 19, 2010. Photo © Lindsay Wengler

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October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk

October 13, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Americana Looking for New Beach

October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

November 1, 2010: Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back

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Papa Burger

Looking for a New Beach: Papa Burger Atop Paul' s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 8, 2011

Last week, a new sign was seen on the roof of Paul’s Daughter, a 49-year-old Coney Island Mom and Pop being booted off the City-owned Boardwalk at the end of the month. Papa Burger, a winsome fiberglass figure, is sporting a sign that says “Looking for a New Beach.”

“I am looking for a new location,” Tina Georgoulakos, the owner of Paul’s Daughter, told ATZ. “Our first preference is to stay on the Boardwalk in Coney Island, if we can’t have that, then we are looking for another beach.”

What are her plans for Mama and Papa Burger? The reason we ask is numerous people, including fans of roadside signage, have sent emails expressing concern about the fate of the figures, which have been part of the Coney Island skyline for decades. They wanted to make sure these rare pieces of roadside Americana were preserved. Last fall, when the businesses first received “Surrender the Premises” notices, among the people we heard from was Debra Jane Seltzer, a devotee of roadside architecture who has catalogued the whereabouts of the Burger figures known as the “A & W Root Beer Family” on her wonderful website RoadsideArchitecture.com.

“The A&W Burger Family may not be the biggest giants out there but they are arguably the cutest,” writes Seltzer on the “Land of Giants” section of her site. “In 1963, A&W introduced four choices of hamburgers and their corresponding Burger Family members: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Baby Burger, and Teen Burger.” When A & W introduced another mascot called “the Great Root Bear” in 1974, some stores began selling off the burger figures, which have ended up at places as various as Magic Forest in Lake George, New York, and the backyard of a private residence in Portland, Oregon. Others are in storage or have been greatly altered, according to Seltzer’s research.

Burger Girl

Burger Girl at Paul's Daughter, Coney Island. November 13, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

“I found the man that made them,” Tina says. “It took all day. His name is Steve Dashew.” There’s a touch of excitement in her voice. In an interview with Roadside America, the former president of International Fiberglass and creator of the Muffler Men and other figures said, “My favorite of all of them was a ‘burger family’: Mama Burger, Papa Burger, Baby Burger, a little larger than life-sized.” Tina contacted him to find out how much the Burger people weighed, so she’d know if a crane would be required to remove them from the roof. It turns out Papa Burger is 10 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and weighs 250 pounds. “I’m going to wrap them with ropes and lower them down,” Tina said. “I am taking every single thing with me. Anything that has meaning is coming with me.”

Another soon-to-vanish piece of Coney Island Americana is the vernacular signage of Paul’s Daughter, including Mister Shrimp and other favorites, which we will detail in another post. “I had considered an auction of certain things but I’m not sure what they are,” says Tina. “It will all depend on whether we move the business somewhere else and I don’t have the answer to that as of yet. If I can’t use them, then I will be auctioning them off.”

Formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, the beloved seaside restaurant and its signage is featured in the book “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York” (see photo here). It was also the scene of the 1999 music video “Summer Girls,” in which the band LFO danced on the roof in front of the Astroland Rocket.  “It was a sad day when the Rocket left,” says Tina. “The Burger statues really miss it. We do too!” Why doesn’t the City keep Paul’s Daughter, the Burger Family and return the Rocket to its rightful place on the roof?

The restaurant is being evicted from the Boardwalk property to make way for a gentrified, corporatized Coney Island. The City-owned property is expected to be taken over by a concession run by France’s Sodexo, the world’s 21st largest corporation. Sodexo was chosen by the Italian company that runs Luna Park to be their partner for “On-Site Service Solutions.”

Through November 4th, ATZ is posting a favorite photo (or two) a day to say goodbye to the Boardwalk Mom and Pops who must “Surrender the Premises” at the end of the month. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the posts.

astroland Rocket

Papa Burger and Astroland Rocket Above Gregory & Paul's. February 10, 2008. Photo Copyright © Diane Taft Shumate/Rubyshost via flickr. All Rights Reserved

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October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk

October 8, 2011: Photo of the Day: “The Chief” of the Coney Island Boardwalk

January 13, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Dishes on the Boardwalk Brawl

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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Last Drink at Cha Cha's of 2010 Season. October 31, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Last year, we had our last drink at Cha Cha’s on Halloween, Coney Island’s last day of the season. That’s Cha Cha’s regular Johnny Corona at the end of the bar. The next day, all but two of the Boardwalk businesses received “Surrender the Premises” letters from the operator of Luna Park. This year, Cha Cha’s and Ruby’s are planning goodbye parties for successive Saturdays in October. Now that their one-year reprieve is over, the businesses must vacate the premises by November 4th. If you want to have a last drink with friends or take photos of the signage, get here before Halloween. After that, they’ll be packing up and moving out.

The home of “Wild Women and Wise Guys” is going out with a bang. Saturday, October 22nd, is being billed as the last big party for John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia and his friends, including Soprano cast members. Musical guests include Killer Joe as well as Vincent Pastore and his Lickety Split Band. Pastore played the role of Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero on The Sopranos. His friend Cha Cha, who also operates a restaurant on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, played Albie Cianflone.

According to an email invite: “This is the final Big Party at Cha Cha’s. Starts around 4 pm and will go till???” We’re told that Cha Cha’s final day is Sunday the 30th. Ruby’s Goodbye Party is Saturday, October 29th from 11 am with music by Undercover and Mystical Children scheduled from 2 till 8 pm.

This weekend, local musicians Richi Lupo of Undercover and possibly Erik Knapp of Mystical Children are doing a combo at Cha Cha’s on Saturday at 4 pm. Sunday is Super Major from Sea Gate, also at 4. All of the above-mentioned events are no cover, no minimum. In other words, it’s free to come and say goodbye.

Since October 8th, ATZ has been posting a fave photo (or two) a day to say goodbye to the Boardwalk Mom and Pops who are losing their leases at the end of the month. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the posts.

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October 11, 2011: Photo of the Day: Butterflies & Beer Island by Bruce Handy

October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

October 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar by Kenny Lombardi

October 8, 2011: Photo of the Day: “The Chief” of the Coney Island Boardwalk

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