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Posts Tagged ‘vernacular signage’

Clam Bar

Clam Bar: Original Signage Restored and Set to Return to Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island. © Paul’s Daughter

On Saturday, May 19, you’ll find us in Coney Island enjoying the first plate of clams and a beer at Paul’s Daughter and raising the first toast of the season at Ruby’s Bar. After attending several “Last Call” protest parties at Ruby’s and lingering over more than one “Last French Fry” at Paul’s, there’s no place we’d rather be. The two Mom & Pops will open for the 2012 season this weekend after months of renovations and missing Coney Island’s Opening Day on April 1st. Both businesses were required to do gut rehabs of their Boardwalk establishments after dodging eviction and winning eight-year leases from Zamperla, the landlord of the City-owned Boardwalk

Paul's Daughter

Paul’s Daughter on Last Night of Business in 2011. October 30, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

“It took time to be that iconic and it’s going to take time to put some of it back,” Paul’s daughter Tina Georgoulakos told ATZ about the work in progress at her store. The family business was co-founded 50 years ago by her father Paul Georgoulakos, now 83, and Gregory Bitetzakis on the Coney Island Boardwalk as Gregory & Paul’s. Saturday will be the soft opening of the new Paul’s Daughter, with the grand opening scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend. Some work remains to be done in the kitchen, which will be finished and inspected next week. This weekend’s bill of fare will be limited to clams on the half-shell, Brooklyn craft beer and soda. “It’s a brand new place with the same people,” said Tina.

Coney Island Signage

Lollypops, Crackerjacks and French Fries: Original Signage Restored and Set to Return to Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island. © Paul’s Daughter

While the new lighted signs and striped awnings mandated for the Boardwalk stores have yet to go up at Ruby’s or Paul’s, the good news is that some of the quirky vernacular signage that gave both places such character will return after all! At Paul’s Daughter, the original signs will be be put up on Monday or Tuesday, said Tina, who sent us these photos of a few of the restored signs. Back in November, when lease negotiations were in progress, it was heartbreaking to see the cavalcade of beloved characters and foods torn from their home on the Boardwalk building’s facade: Mr Shrimp, Chiefito and Chiefita (the Nice N Sweet/Fluffy Cotton Candy Kids), Shish Kebab (“Made with Love”) and other enticements. Some of the signage has been here since the restaurant’s earliest days and was meticulously restored a couple of years ago.

The rendering for the new store released in November showed the spruced up Burger statues on the roof (where they have remained throughout this saga) and what appeared to be new hand-painted signs in the spirit of the original along the bottom. At the time Tina told us she doubted whether the age and fragile condition of the signs would allow her to return them to the building’s exterior. The happy solution was to have the thin metal signs mounted on a wood backing.

Coney Island Sign

Cold Beers Sodas: Original Signage Restored and Set to Return to Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island. © Paul’s Daughter

The announcement of Ruby’s Saturday opening was posted on their Facebook page yesterday: “WHEW! After months of construction….Ruby’s will be open Tomorrow!!! Look forward to seeing everyone.” The bar, newly trimmed with ipe wood salvaged from the Boardwalk redo, will be open, of course. The menu, still a work in progress, will include hot dogs, hamburgers and knishes. French fries are yet to come.

As we previously reported, the vernacular signage touting Hot Corn, Fried Shrimp and Shish-Ka-Bob have survived and are alive and on the inside at Ruby’s Bar and Grill. The charmingly hand-painted food and lettering surrounding the grill got a touch up and has been trimmed with recycled wood from the Boardwalk. The plastic tabletops have also been replaced with Boardwalk wood. See you there!

Ruby's Bar Coney Island

Last Call Protest Party at Ruby’s Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk, November 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Corn on the Cob Painting

Hand-Painted Corn on the Cob at Ruby's Bar and Grill. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Good news from the Coney Island Boardwalk! As it turns out, the gut rehab of old-timey Boardwalk businesses does not mean the complete loss of gritty authenticity and vernacular signage. The other day, we were delighted to see that Hot Corn, Fried Shrimp and Shish-Ka-Bob have survived and are alive and on the inside at Ruby’s Bar and Grill. The charmingly hand-painted food and lettering surrounding the grill is getting a touch up and will be back to entice visitors when the renovated Ruby’s reopens in May. The signage is being trimmed with recycled wood from the Boardwalk.

Half of the Boardwalk stores, including Lola Star Gift Shop, Famiglia Pizza, Coney Cones, and the new Nathan’s Restaurant and Gift Shop are open for business. Ruby’s, Paul’s Daughter, Tom’s Restaurant, Brooklyn Beach Shop, and Zamperla’s beach bar and Scream Zone annex with Go Karts and Sky Coaster are currently under construction. The businesses are expected to open on or by Memorial Day Weekend. Coney Island’s amusement rides and attractions are open and unaffected by the ongoing construction.

Back in November, we got a first look at the Boardwalk businesses’ renderings for their new stores, some of which feature dazzling marquees and neon signage. The rendering for Paul’s Daughter, a Boardwalk icon founded in 1962 as Gregory & Paul’s, shows the spruced up Burger statues on the roof and new hand-painted signage along the bottom. Take a peek: “Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk” (ATZ, November 15, 2011). What do you think?

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March 27, 2012: Dazzling Sign of Life on Boardwalk: Lola Star Boutique

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December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

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club atlantis mermaid

Club Atlantis Mermaid Resurfaces. January 15, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy. All Rights Reserved

Signage for Coney Island’s Club Atlantis, including this voluptuous mermaid, resurfaced after the sign for the evicted Cha Cha’s Bar & Cafe was removed from the building’s facade. The Boardwalk store was home to the Atlantis from the 1940s through the 1990s. In the last few years of its life, the letters from the famed sign that spelled Atlantis became corroded and were removed. This hand-painted signage replaced it. Does anyone recall who painted it and when?

The club had many different owners over the years, including Murray Weingar, a co-owner of Miami’s Copacabana, and bandleader Mousey Powell in the 1940s. In the ’70s, the Atlantis featured a singing cowboy and in the ’90s it became a Latin dance club, writes Charles Denson in Coney Island: Lost and Found. Cha Cha’s, the Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys, was also called Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis until it closed at the end of October.

One of the earliest mentions we could find for the Atlantis was during World War II. A notice in the July 11, 1942 edition of the Billboard said:

Atlantis bar, grill and dance hall on the Boardwalk, owned by Murray Weingar and Hymie Schuman, operates under blue dim-outs after sundown. Bar trade on main floor entertained by Ralph Lawrence, accordionist; Embassy Trio, singers and intrumentalists, with Ruth Blair doing the vocals. Patriotic display changed weekly in bar’s center. On top deck is a squared arena for the jitterbugs tripping to Sol Curry’s Ork and applauding Karen Kaye’s singing.

Tom’s Restaurant of Prospect Heights is renovating the Boardwalk space formerly occupied by both Cha Cha’s and Nathan’s, the site of the original Atlantis. The new restaurant will have a roof deck and is expected to open in April. Cha Cha’s, one of six Boardwalk businesses whose leases were not renewed by Central Amusement International, is seeking to relocate nearby.

Thanks to Coney Island photographer and Sunday archaeologist Bruce Handy for these photos!

Club Atlantis Signage Resurfaces. January 15, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy. All Rights Reserved

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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

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Gyro Corner Clam Bar

Gyro Corner Clam Bar - Coney Island. June 10, 2008. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

Our fave photo of Gyro Corner Clam Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk is this night shot of the 12th Street side by silversalty. It’s lit up like a Chelsea art gallery waiting for reception-goers on a Thursday night. The photographer’s Coney Island set on flickr is rich with night images of such vanished wonders as Faber’s Fascination marquee, Astroland’s Breakdance and M & M Gyro’s signage. Gyro Corner Clam Bar will close and its hand-painted signage will become part of Coney’s vanished landscape after November 4, 2011.

If you live too far away to visit, check out the hundreds of photos on flickr as well as several in Roadside Art Online’s fascinating Gyros Project. We’ll miss these whimsical depictions of anthropomorphized clam waiters serving up plates of clams and “The Gyros Sandwich glorified.” Coney Island’s vernacular signage is widely appreciated as Art and Americana, though it doesn’t fit Luna Park operator Valerio Ferrari’s Europeanized “vision” for the new Boardwalk.

The 12th Street side of Gyro Corner is where the clam bar of “Hey Joey!” fame resides. When the mural was painted by L.A.-based Gents of Desire for Steve Powers’ Dreamland Artist Club in 2004, it won acclaim from art critics. “Combining F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic 1920s glamour with the tough stylings of L.A.’s Mexican street gangs,” wrote Andrew Hodges in The Brooklyn Rail. The real-life “Joey Clams” was interviewed by The New York Times:

Joey Pesca, the manager of the popular clam bar, also known as the Gyro Corner, at the Boardwalk and West 12th Street, said the wall sign painted for him by the Gents of Desire – otherwise known as Jonathan Bleser and Alexis Ross – has made his business a destination for art lovers and has given him a new appreciation for artists.

“They were actually a joy to be around,” Mr. Pesca, also known as Joey Clams, said of the Gents. “And at the end they added this little thing that says, ‘Hey Joey!,’ which has made me a little famous around here.”

Alas, we must now say goodbye to “Hey Joey!,” as we already did to Steve Powers’ Shoot Out the Star signs at the Henderson Building and Rita Ackermann’s mural on the Feltman’s Building. Goodbye to the flashy front-of-the-show vernacular signage at Gyro Corner and Paul’s Daughter and Steve’s Grill House. The new Boardwalk storefronts will be branded. We expect the facades and signage to look more uniform as well. It’s a harbinger of the City’s vision of a single operator Coney Island.

We’ll post photos of Gyro Corner’s Boardwalk signage before this series ends when the seven Boardwalk Mom and Pops vacate the premises on November 4th. ATZ is saying goodbye to old friends with a favorite photo (or two) a day. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the photos. Many thanks to Adrian Kinloch, who frequently photographs Coney Island, for this close-up of “Hey Joey!” from his superb Coney Island Design set on flickr.

Coney Island Signage

Coney Island Hand Painted Signage. December 3, 2006. Photo © Adrian Kinloch via http://www.adriankinloch.net/photography. All rights reserved

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

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October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

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