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Posts Tagged ‘Nathan’s’

Nathan and Ida Handwerker

Nathan Handwerker and Ida Handwerker at the 50th anniversary of Nathan’s, 1966. Photo By Daniel Farrell. Courtesy of Loquat Films

Nathan Handwerker, the founder of Nathan’s Famous hot dog empire, is a mythic figure in Coney Island history. The story of the young Polish immigrant working at Feltman’s and saving his salary to open a competing restaurant where hot dogs sold for a nickel instead of a dime is the stuff of legend. His grandson Lloyd Handwerker’s documentary Famous Nathan humanizes him and at the same time makes us see that he truly was larger than life. The film premiered on Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be screened again on April 25 and 26.

The opening scene is a sweet first memory in a remarkably candid family memoir: Lloyd and his sister are children being fed loquats plucked from a tree by their grandfather. The documentary is told through home movies, archival photos and footage, the filmmaker’s interviews with a colorful cast of characters including family members and former Nathan’s workers, and the voice of Famous Nathan himself. A 16-minute oral history, condensed from nearly four hours taped by Lloyd’s cousin David Sternshein when their grandfather was 82 is central to the narrative. The cadence of Nathan’s voice and his story reverberate in the imagination even after the film is over: “I want to go to America. I was dreaming about it.”

Nathan says he could neither read nor write, but that he had common sense. His ingenuity is evident every step of the way, from sleeping with his money in his shoes during the voyage, to calling out customers’ orders one at a time at his first restaurant job since he didn’t know a word of English, to keeping the frankfurters from spoiling by storing them in a barrel between layers of ice. He courted his wife-to-be Ida when she opened a little stand next door to his own. Remember those vintage photos of Nathan’s in which the cars are double and triple parked out front? Well, no one ever got a ticket because the cops on the beat were paid $2 a day and all they could eat.

The other side of this successful immigrant’s story is that Nathan was a workaholic, who was by all accounts highly critical of the store’s managers including his sons Murray and Sol. “If he didn’t say anything, he wasn’t criticizing you,” says one of the former managers, who clearly idolized him nonetheless. When it came time to retire, Ida felt as if she were being punished instead of seeing it as a reward, says Lloyd’s uncle Murray. Nathan asked if he could sweep the street, and turned up at the store in Oceanside in a Cadillac and swept the parking lot, much to the surprise of workers who asked who he was.

At one point in the film, Lloyd asks his father Sol, who is now 88 and the only surviving child of Nathan, if he ever wanted him to go into the family business. Sol says he wanted him to have “a better life, a more interesting life.” Lloyd’s chosen career was cinematography and for the past 30 years he has been piecing together his family’s history.

“My grandfather died when I was 17. I knew him quite well,” the 57-year-old Brooklyn film-maker said in a previous interview with ATZ. His quest appears to have been propelled by the fact that Sol left the family business when Lloyd was 7. Growing up he’d only been to Coney Island a few times and he never worked at Nathan’s. “Why am I here? I guess I’m trying to recreate something of my grandfather,” he says into the camera, as a young man of 30, though he looks much younger, sitting in Nathan’s chair in his office. He has succeeded brilliantly.

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April 8, 2014: Photo Album: Classic Chevrolets at Nathan’s Coney Island

March 6, 2014: Tribeca Film Fest to Premiere ‘Famous Nathan’ Doc by Grandson Lloyd Handwerker

March 24, 2013: “Notorious BOB” and Larell Marie Win Nathan’s Hot Dog Qualifier

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

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1957 Chevy Bel Air

1957 Chevy Bel Air in front of the Original Nathan’s, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday in Coney Island, two classic Chevrolets in front of the original Nathan’s Famous were the center of attention for tourists and locals alike. The 1957 Bel Air and the 1963 Impala were parked on Stillwell Avenue while their owners were inside ordering lunch.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Car show trophies won by 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air displayed in back seat. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The rolled down windows of the Bel Air afforded a glimpse of trophies from classic car shows and souvenirs. Tourists from France, Scotland and Manhattan took advantage of the photo op while we were there.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevy Bel Air in front of the Original Nathan’s, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The Bel Air was graced with a SATCHMO license plate, though a statue of Elvis Presley rested in the back seat. The Impala had a miniature version of itself in the back window…

1963 Chevy Impala

1963 Chevy Impala parked in front of Nathan’s. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Here’s another photo that shows both classic cars. One of our friends shot virtually the same photo in black and white, lending it the look of a photo taken back in the 1960s. The original Nathan’s opened at this location in 1916.

1963 Impala and 1957 Bel Air

1963 Impala and 1957 Bel Air in front of the Original Nathan’s, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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March 6, 2014: Tribeca Film Fest to Premiere ‘Famous Nathan’ Doc by Grandson Lloyd Handwerker

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

March 14, 2013: “Notorious BOB” and Larell Marie Win Nathan’s Hot Dog Qualifier

June 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

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Famous Nathan by Lloyd Handwerker

Famous Nathan directed and written by Lloyd Handwerker. Photo Mike Zwerling/courtesy Loquat Film

The long-awaited documentary about Nathan’s Famous by Lloyd Handwerker, grandson of the hot dog emporium’s founders Nathan and Ida Handwerker, is set to premiere at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Famous Nathan is among the films in the festival’s Viewpoints Section, which was announced yesterday. A screening date for the film has not yet been announced. The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 16 through 27. (Update: The film will premiere on April 17, with additional screenings on April 21, 25 and 26. Tickets are available, beginning with Amex presale, starting April 8. Read ATZ’s review of the film here.)

“I’ve been working on it for almost 30 years, off and on,” the 57-year-old Brooklyn film-maker said in an interview this morning with ATZ. “My grandfather died when I was 17. I knew him quite well.” According to Lloyd’s research into his family’s history, “In 1912, Nathan, age 19, one of 13 brothers and sisters from a poor Jewish family, left Jaroslaw, Poland and arrived in New York City. He was unable to read, write or speak a word of English. By the 1930’s, he’d created one of the most loved places to eat anywhere in the world, in Coney Island, Brooklyn.”

Though Lloyd has never worked at Nathan’s, as a cinematographer he felt compelled to piece together his family’s history. His father Sol, who will be 89 in October, was first taken in to work in the kitchen as a young child, piling up rolls on a roll board and cutting frankfurters, according to one of our favorite interviews in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive. The former Vice President of Nathan’s Famous, who is the only surviving child of Nathan and Ida, will attend the premiere with his wife Minnie.

People who worked at Nathan’s for decades, some for more than 40 years, also shared their memories with the film-maker. “There are elderly workers who are still alive and hopefully they’ll be able to get to the premiere,” said Lloyd. “I offer this personal, long-in-the-making film to my parents, grandparents, the Nathan’s workers and to lovers of our great city everywhere.”

Lloyd Handwerker

Lloyd Handwerker with Steeplechase Horse at the Coney Island History Project. Photo © Coney Island History Project

Famous Nathan
Directed and written by Lloyd Handwerker
(USA) – World Premiere, Documentary

Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters, a New York City icon, has left a lasting imprint on the collective memory and palate of Coney Island. Director and grandson of ‘Famous’ Nathan himself, Lloyd Handwerker, takes a look back at the immigrant experience and almost 100 years of family and New York history in this personal documentary gem. Featuring a strong score, colorful and endearing characters, rare archival material, and a nuanced editing style, Famous Nathan will not disappoint New York history enthusiasts.

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Coney Island Always, West 12th Street near the Boardwalk, Coney Island. August 31, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Park founder George C. Tilyou famously said “If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.” Over the past few weeks, we’ve fielded queries from around the world: When does Coney Island close? What’s open in September, October, etcetera?

Nowadays, Coney Island’s season for amusement rides, games and attractions extends from Palm Sunday till the last weekend in October. The New York Aquarium, Nathan’s Famous, and a few other restaurants and shops in the amusement district remain open through the fall and winter. Back in 2010, ATZ wrote a guide to off-season Coney titled “Coney Island After Columbus Day: We’re Still Open!” Here’s an updated version.

Nathan's

Open Year-Round: The Original Nathan’s Famous at Night, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Rides and Attractions

After Labor Day, the majority of Coney’s rides are open weekends and school holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Columbus Day) through the end of October –this year, the last day is Sunday, October 27. Weather permitting, of course. Schedules may vary at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park, the Cyclone and Scream Zone, 12th Street Amusements and the Eldorado Bumper Cars. The Eldorado is an independently-owned, indoor attraction and stays open after the other rides close. We recommend checking the official Coney Island twitterers list for up-to-date info and phoning ahead if the weather is iffy.

Hours are generally 12 noon until 6-8pm, and sometimes until 10 or 11 pm on September weekends, but vary depending on the weather and the crowds. Closing is much earlier than in the summer season, when the parks may be open till 1am. The traditional opening day of the season is Palm Sunday, a holiday with a date that changes every year. In 2014, the parks will officially open on April 13th. (In 2015, Palm Sunday is early– March 29th.) Coney Island’s amusement rides operate on a daily schedule from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Check the websites of the parks and attractions for seasonal hours or phone ahead.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island USA features an array of events during September and October including the 29th Annual Coney Island Tattoo and Motorcycle Festival (September 13-15) and the Coney Island Film Festival (September 20-22). Check the calendar of events for October’s Creep Show at the Freak Show and Haunted Sideshow and other special events during the year. Fred Kahl’s Scan-O-Rama, a 3D portrait studio, will be open most Saturdays, from 12-5pm. Update: CIUSA’s Freak Bar and Gift Shop will be open most Saturdays and Sundays 12pm-5pm during the winter.

The New York Aquarium‘s Fall/Winter/Spring hours are 10am–4:30pm, with last entry at 3:30pm. Exhibits include Conservation Hall and Sea Cliffs, where you can see penguins, walruses and sea otters being fed. While the aquarium is still recovering and rebuilding from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, admission fees are reduced to $9.95. On Fridays from 3pm, admission is pay-what you-wish.

New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge

He Did It! Annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge in Coney Island. January 1, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita

Beach and Boardwalk

While the beach officially closes for swimming after Labor Day, sunbathing, strolling, bird-watching, kite-flying, photography and other fun pursuits are allowed. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club swims at 1pm every Sunday from November through April. Watch from the beach or join them for a guest swim. Just show up at the Bears “Clubhouse” at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing. There’s also the famous New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, which all are welcome to join and earn the bragging rights “Did it!” (Update: On occasion, when the Aquarium’s Education Hall is leased out, the Bears swim at Stillwell Avenue.)

The historic 90-year-old Riegelmann Boardwalk is open year round and if you traverse its 2.7 miles from Sea Gate to Brighton, you’ll meet walkers, runners, bicyclists, parents with strollers, neighborhood folks out and about, as well as tourists from around the world. The Coney Island History Project offers 1-1/2 hour walking tours of the amusement district -“past, present and future”–including stops at the landmark Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump and lesser known treasures. Tours are offered year-round, weather permitting.

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk: Lola Star Boutique, Ruby’s Bar, Brooklyn Beach Shop, Scream Zone, Tom’s Coney Island, Parachute Jump. Photo © Tricia Vita

DINING AND SHOPPING

Paul’s Daughter, established as Gregory and Paul’s in 1962, is open daily through the end of October. Paul Georgoulakos, 84, the Boardwalk’s oldest operator, can frequently be found at the clam bar of his family’s eatery, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Located at West 10th Street near the Aquarium, the store offers counter service, a clam bar, and an al fresco bar with beer on tap. We recommend the raw clams, fried calamari, and french fries.

Some of the small businesses are making a valiant effort to stretch the season. Lola Star Boutique owner Dianna Carlin says she intends to keep her gift shop open, weather permitting, every day for as long as she can. “I’m really gearing up for holiday shopping and getting tons of fabulous new merch, so hopefully we’ll be open daily at least through Christmas!”

Lola Star Boutique

Lola Star Boutique owner Dianna Carlin with one of her T-Shirt Designs. Photo © Tricia Vita

Ruby’s Bar and Grill is open daily through Halloween, co-owner Michael Sarrel tells ATZ. It’ll be weekends only–most weekends anyway–from November 1st through January 1st, which is a big day on the Boardwalk due to the Polar Bear Plunge. After New Year’s Day, Ruby’s will close till mid-March. Drop by Ruby’s Facebook page anytime to check seasonal hours and whether or not they’re open when you plan to go.

Brooklyn Beach Shop, which offers private label T-shirts, hoodies, blankets and beach gear, is open daily through the end of October. Weekend hours are planned for the rest of the year, depending on the weather and the crowds.

At Tom’s Coney Island, breakfast including their delicious pancakes, is served all day. The restaurant has become a local favorite for brunch and lunch since Superstorm Sandy, when it was one of the few places able to open after the storm. A variety of omelettes, sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers and vegie burgers are also on the menu. “We will be staying open through the winter from 8-5, seven days a week,” owner Jimmy Kokotas tells ATZ. “We are currently open 8-7 till daylight savings begins.” The Boardwalk outpost of the popular Prospect Heights diner celebrates its first anniversary later this month.

Wrap at Tom's Restaurant

Grilled Chicken with Greek Salad: Our Fave Wrap at Tom’s, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita

Founded in 1916, Nathan’s Famous original location on Surf Avenue at Stillwell is a year-round tourist destination. People say their world-famous hot dogs taste better here than at any of the locations of the franchise. Throughout the year, the Surf Avenue store is open daily 8am till 1am, and until 2am on Friday and Saturday. The Nathan’s at the corner of West 12th on the Boardwalk is open seasonally.

Williams Candy is one of our favorite places in Coney Island. The 75-year-old Mom-and-Pop shop is next door to Nathan’s Famous and is open year round. Hours are 9 am till 7 pm during the off season. The shop stays open late when Coney is in full swing. Williams also has a delicious looking website where you can order marshmallow sticks, candy apples and other treats online.

Williams Candy

Williams Candy, next to Nathan’s dining area on Surf Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Stillwell Avenue directly behind Nathan’s is Coney Island Beach Shop, which has been selling T-shirts and beach gear at this location in Coney Island since 2002. Year-round hours are 10:30am-4pm.

Across the street from Nathan’s, in Thor Equities new retail building, the pop-up shop Wampum packed it in after Labor Day, but the rest of the stores are open daily through October 30, according to store personnel. With the exception of candy mega chain It’Sugar, which will be open year round, the rest of the stores will close for the winter. The Brooklyn Nets Shop, Brooklyn Rock, Maritza’s Souvenirs and Rainbow Shop (discount clothing) have seasonal leases through October and most hope to return next season, sources told ATZ. UPDATE: Brooklyn Rock, which sells artisanal T-shirts, extended their lease and will be open through the winter and spring.

If you prefer Italian food, there are a trio of Coney Island restaurants open year round. The Surf Avenue outpost of DUMBO’s Grimaldi’s Pizzeria currently offers a slice of Coney Island history along with their pizza pies. The “Dreamland Bell” that survived the Dreamland Fire of 1911 is on display as a symbol of Coney’s comeback from Sandy. It can be seen through the storefront window by pedestrians walking on the north side of Surf. The Bell is there through September 27th. A short walk from the amusement district are two of the neighborhood’s longtime favorites– Totonno’s Pizzeria on Neptune Avenue since 1924 and Gargiulo’s, in business since 1907 on West 15th Street.

Coney Island Beach Shop

T Shirts at Coney Island Beach Shop behind Nathan’s on Stillwell Avenue. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Bob Shoudt AKA Notorious BOB

Bob Shoudt AKA Notorious BOB at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier, Coney Island. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Saturday in Coney Island, Nathan’s Famous celebrated the reopening of their Boardwalk eatery and Coney Island’s Opening Weekend with the first hot dog eating qualifying round of the season. The winners were Bob Shoudt AKA “Notorious B.O.B.,” who ate 36 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, and Larell Marie AKA The Real Deal, who ate 17. They will return to Coney to compete on July Fourth, when separate men’s and women’s hot dog eating contests are held in front of the original Nathan’s at Surf and Stillwell, which is being rebuilt after Sandy.

Compared to the hugely attended and tightly choreographed July 4th event televised on ESPN, the qualifier had a refreshingly impromptu air. A couple of “Bunettes,” the ladies who flip the cards indicating the number of franks consumed, had to be recruited from the audience, which consisted of a few hundred people. The event was the first-ever hot dog qualifier held in Coney Island, according to contest organizer and emcee extraordinaire George Shea.

Larell Marie AKA The Real Deal

Larell Marie AKA The Real Deal on her 3rd hot dog at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier, Coney Island. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

It was the first qualifier we’ve attended in more than a dozen years. In 2001, we followed Ed “Cookie” Jarvis, Don “Moses” Lerman and “Krazy” Kevin Lipsitz on the hot dog eating circuit, starting with the season’s first qualifier at the Meadowlands, on assignment for a travel magazine. It turned out to be the year that Kobayashi stunned everyone by eating 50 hot dogs and buns on the Fourth of July, doubling the record of the previous year. The article was called “Bet on the Thin Guy.”

After winning yesterday’s qualifier, Shoudt tweeted: “Since 7/4/07 only one man besides myself has won the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest at Coney Island, just sayin’,” He’s referring to current champ and record holder Joey Chestnut, who ate 68 hot dogs and buns in last year’s contest.

If you’re interested in competing in a Nathan’s Famous qualifier, visit Major League Eating to register. Contests are being held in 12 cities, including Savannah, Miami, Las Vegas, St. Paul, Pittsburgh and Boston, before heading back to the New York metro area for qualifiers in Queens and the Meadowlands.

George Shea

George Shea at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier, Coney Island. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Nathan's Coney Island

First Food Shipment to Nathan’s in Coney Island since Sandy. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last week, ATZ spotted this huge semi parked on Coney Island’s West 12th Street adjacent to Nathan’s Boardwalk restaurant. It was the first food delivery to Nathan’s since Sandy struck nearly five months ago. On Monday, March 18th, you’ll finally be able to get a Nathan’s hot dog again in Coney Island when the Boardwalk location reopens. Everyone in Coney is busy, busy, busy getting ready for Opening Day – March 24th — which is now just 7 days away. The amount of activity far exceeds anything we’ve seen in past years because of the extra added work of recovering and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy. Even though Palm Sunday, Coney’s traditional opening day, is early this year, the great majority of the rides, games and eateries are ready to open. More photos from the flickr set are here.

 Place to BEach

Zamperla’s New Place to BEach Bar & Grill, Coney Island. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Under construction since last summer, Place to BEach Bar & Grill — the capital “E” is not a typo– is about to make its debut. The revamped structure’s most distinctive feature is a mini-lighthouse with a weathervane that says “Every Wind Leads to PTB Bar.” Last week was the first time we saw the Boardwalk spot with its shutters open. Workers at the site told ATZ they expect to be able to open for counter service on March 24th.

Located on the former site of Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island, the new addition to Coney’s skyline is adjacent to Scream Zone’s Skycoaster and Go Karts. It is operated by CAI Foods, LLC, the relatively new food division of Zamperla’s Central Amusements International. French food service giant Sodexo, which Luna Park had partnered with since 2010, is now said to be out of the picture in Coney Island. That’s something to cheer about. Word on the street is that PTB’s menu will be Tex-Mex. Neighboring businesses on the Boardwalk including Tom’s Coney Island and Brooklyn Beach Shop are already open daily and the rest plan to open on the weekend of March 23rd.

Zenobio

Scream Zone’s Zenobio Goes for Test Spin. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney’s amusement area Mom & Pops affected by the storm are busy rebuilding too. Bowery eateries Plaza Mexico Dona Zita, Gyro Corner and Bernard’s and Williams Candy on Surf are remodeling. Jimmy Balloons, who operates the popular balloon dart game on the Bowery, is building a new booth on Jones Walk under the Wonder Wheel’s neon sign. The lease on his longtime location across the way was held by Manny Cohen of Coney Island Arcade, who was evicted after 22 years and is moving to Vegas with Target the Coney Island Cat.

Under Construction: Jimmy Balloons New Balloon Dart. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Other veteran businesses that will not return this season are the 50-year-old McCullough’s Kiddie Park, at Bowery and W 12th Street, which could not come to lease terms with Thor Equities. Cha Cha’s of Surf Avenue announced after Sandy that it was closing forever. Denny’s Ice Cream, which was sold to Coney Island USA, was badly damaged by the storm and will be replaced with a 1940s shooting gallery from Wonder Wheel Park. The New York Aquarium, Coney Island USA, and Nathan’s on Surf Avenue are still rebuilding and expect to reopen by Memorial Day Weekend. The new Steeplechase Plaza with the restored B & B Carousell is slated to open that weekend as well.

Wonder Wheel Car

Wonder Wheel Car Being Rolled Out of Storage. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The cars of the Wonder Wheel were rolled out of storage last week and put back up on the Wheel on Saturday afternoon. The annual ritual is considered the first sign of spring in Coney Island. The rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone, 12th Street Amusements (Update: they’re still working and expect to open on Easter) and the Eldorado Bumper Cars are being tested and inspected and will go for their first official spin of the year on March 24th. The Cyclone opens at 12 noon with the first 100 fans on line riding for free. Construction at Luna Park includes a new pinwheel gate on the Boardwalk and ticket booths and entrance at the Cyclone.

New Zoltar

New Zoltar Under Wraps at Wonder Wheel Park. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

At Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the annual Blessing of the Rides ceremony starts at 11 am on the Boardwalk. This year, to celebrate Coney’s comeback from Sandy, rides on the landmark Wonder Wheel are free for everyone on Opening Day. The rebuilt Spook-A-Rama dark ride is expected to make its debut along with a ghost-themed shooting gallery and a brand-new Zoltar. The Coney Island History Project’s free exhibit center under the Wheel will be open, along with its neighbors “Coney Island Always,” a window showcasing a miniature animated amusement park, and “Miss Coney Island” the dancing doll.

Coney Island Beach

Post-Sandy Sand Dunes Bulldozed, Coney Island Beach. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The temporary sand dunes in Coney Island’s amusement area were bulldozed and we have a beach again. During Sandy recovery, the Army Corps of Engineers established a “temporary storage site,” or TSS, at West 15th Street after moving an estimated 32,000 cubic yards of sand, the equivalent of roughly 12 Olympic-size swimming pools, out of Coney Island neighborhoods. The sand was eventually sifted and moved back to the beach, which officially reopens for swimming on Saturday, May 25. Repairs to Steeplechase Pier and sections of the Boardwalk are also underway.

Boardwalk Repairs

Boardwalk Repairs, Coney Island March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Nathan's Surf Avenue

Post-Sandy Reconstruction: Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue. March 2, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

The first Nathan’s hot dogs and french fries to be served in Coney Island since Sandy struck more than four months ago are on the horizon. In two weeks, the famous franks will be back on the Boardwalk! Nathan’s Boardwalk location, which expanded last season and suffered less damage from Sandy than the Surf Avenue store, is set to open in mid-March. One source tells ATZ the Nathan’s Boardwalk store will open on March 16, a Saturday, while another says March 18. Either way, we’ll let you know ASAP. UPDATE 1:35pm: ATZ confirmed with Nathan’s Corporate Office that the official opening date of their Boardwalk restaurant will be Monday, March 18th.

Over the weekend, the gut rehab at Nathan’s Famous original location on Surf Avenue continued with workers ripping out the counter and steel shutters, as seen in the above photo by Jim McDonnell. The interior as well as electrical and plumbing were ruined by the flood water and sewage that surged into the store during Superstorm Sandy. Sources tell ATZ the target date for completing the work and reopening Nathan’s main store at Surf and Stillwell Avenues is Memorial Day Weekend.

Ahead of March 24’s Opening Day for Coney Island’s amusement rides, some of Nathan’s neighbors on the Boardwalk such as Brooklyn Beach Shop, Nathan’s Gift Shop, and Ruby’s Bar and Grill have already been open “by chance” and expect to open on the weekend of March 16th. Lola Star Boutique and Paul’s Daughter are set to open on Palm Sunday Weekend. Tom’s Restaurant, which has been serving breakfast and lunch all winter, was exceptionally crowded over the weekend. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, who eats there every Sunday said, “Today we got the last table and they were holding people at the door.” Spring is in the wings and the crowds are coming back to Coney!

UPDATE March 7, 2013:

Nathan’s and Major League Eating announced they will hold the first qualifier for the 2013 Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Saturday, March 23, at 1 pm, at the Boardwalk restaurant as part of opening-weekend celebrations for Coney Island.

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

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