Archive for October, 2011

In past years, ATZ has posted Coney Island resident and photographer Bruce Handy’s first snow of the season photos on December 4 and December 27. Thanks to Saturday’s freaky snowstorm, dubbed Snowtober on the web, we’re celebrating this tradition two months early!

In addition to a snow-covered Boardwalk, Bruce’s flickr slide show offers snow-dusted Halloween characters and the rare sight of the Wonder Wheel’s cars, which ordinarily have been taken down for the winter before the first snowfall. One of our perennial favorites is a white-on-white view of the Cyclone’s snow-covered track. It’s a visual reminder that the first roller coasters were Russian ice slides called “Russian Mountains” and the word for coasters in the Romance languages is the lovely “montagnes russes” in French, “montagne russe” in Italian, and “montaña rusa” in Spanish.

Unfortunately, the October snow that transformed Coney Island into a winter wonderland on an autumn day coincided with the last weekend of the season. Outdoor events such as the second annual Children’s Halloween Parade were cancelled on Saturday, though Ruby’s Bar stayed open and the show went on at Creep Show at the Freak Show. Have no fear about going out to Coney Island for tonight’s “Freaks Night Out” party at Luna Park. The snow and ice on the beach and boardwalk have already melted and the temp is a balmy 52 degrees. If it wasn’t for Bruce’s Coney Island Photo Diary, Snowtober would have vanished without a trace. Enjoy the tricks and the treats—Happy Halloween!


Snow-dusted Halloween Character at the Cyclone. October 29, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr


Related posts on ATZ…

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

December 4, 2009: Photo of the Day: Let It Snow! in Coney Island

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Cha Cha's

Cha Cha's Bar on the Boardwalk in Coney Island. June 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Sunday afternoon’s party at Cha Cha’s with Killer Joe will be the last hurrah for the Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys on the Coney Island Boardwalk. On Tuesday, November 1st, the contents of Cha Cha’s — restaurant equipment, fixtures and memorabilia, including a quantity of neon signs– will be auctioned off. The public sale will be at the bar, located at 1229 Boardwalk near Stillwell. If you’d love to have a piece of signage or other keepsake from Cha Cha’s, be there by 2:00 pm, when the auction begins.

According to an ad for the auction in today’s New York Times, the sale includes “5 Coney Island Restaurants, Bars/Snack Bars” and contains “a tremendous quantity of memorabilia!!!!” Auctioneer Vinny Casale told ATZ that the auction’s five locations include Cha Cha’s on the Boardwalk and neighboring bars and restaurants as well as the Coney Island Souvenir Shop. “There is an upright player piano marked William Knabe & Co. from the 1920s that comes with piano rolls,” he said of the items for sale at Cha Cha’s. “There are a lot of neon signs.” Some of the other restaurants are selling off old equipment and furniture which will no longer be needed, regardless of whether they are closing or have hopes of returning to the new, rehabbed Boardwalk or another location next year.

Grill House

Steve's Grill House, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 31, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Sources tell ATZ that Cha Cha’s, Beer Island, Gyro Corner and Coney Island Souvenir Shop were not offered new leases for the Boardwalk by Zamperla USA. Gyro has already moved signage and equipment to their Bowery location. The last we heard from “the Coney Island Rumor Mill,” Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter were in negotiations for multi-year leases and it was not a done deal. Although November 4th is the final date by which the Boardwalk businesses are required to vacate the premises, the deadline was said to have been extended through November 14 for the businesses offered leases and with whom negotiations were in progress. Steve’s Grill House, located at the corner of Stillwell Avenue, was reportedly offered the space adjacent to his restaurant, where the Tacos and Tortas stand is located. The Tacos restaurant is relocating to Neptune Avenue between Stillwell and 15th Street. They leased the store formerly occupied by Classic Heros, which closed last year.

Cha Cha’s Closing Party featuring Killer Joe and Vinny “Big Pussy” Pastore of The Sopranos starts at 3pm on Sunday, October 30. Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” begins at 12 noon. The date was changed to Sunday because of yesterday’s weather. Paul’s Daughter is expected to be open as well.

The advertisement for the November 1st auction lists the following items:

icecream, memorabilia, Coldlite C/T Ice cream machines, 3- Flavor margarita machines, Batch Freezers, Lab 100B & 500, 5- Ice machines, ! & 4 direct beer taps, Curved glass gelato cases, ! & 2 Glass dr refrigerators, 1 & 2 S/S Dr Refrigerators, Flat top grills, Hot Dog Cart, Coffee machines,& Grinders, Funnel cake cart, Chest & Upright Freezers, C/T Pizza Ovens, 4- Ice-Cream Dip Boxes, Deep Fryer & Hood Combo, 8-camera system, ADS Pass thru D/W, lg Screen TVS, Ship Chandeliers, Brass Glass Racks, Glass Sneezeguards, 10-Cash registers.

Complete Build A Bear Machine originally costing $5k with bears & stuffing, 75 neon signs, pretzel & popcorn machines, smoke machines, sheet pan racks, bar stools, 60 chairs, 15 tables, 4 glass lighted showcases, 500 Coney Island sweatshirts & t-shirts, Novelty items, So many more items too many too list. call auctioneer for more info

The sale is being held by Best Buy Auctioneers in conjunction with Vincent Casale Auctioneers.

Last year on November 1st, nine Boardwalk businesses received “surrender the premises” letters from Zamperla USA, the operator of Luna Park (“Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back,” ATZ, Nov 1, 2010). Eight of the businesses banded together to fight the eviction from the City-owned property on the Boardwalk leased to Zamperla. Seven won a one-year lease, which expires on November 1, 2011.

Coney Island Souvenir Shop on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Rolling Sign: Coney Island Souvenir Shop on the Boardwalk. April 21, 2010.Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


Related posts on ATZ…

November 1, 2011: Live from Coney Island! Wanna Buy a Chair from Ruby’s Bar?

October 12, 2011: Photo of the Day: Last Drink at Cha Cha’s of Coney Island

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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Ghost Lettering

Ghost Lettering, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

On Sunday in Coney Island, we happened to take a few photos that are linked by end of season color and the melancholy passage of time. Last week, the ghost lettering of a forgotten arcade was revealed on the brick facade of the building on the Boardwalk at West 12th Street. As previously reported, Gyro Corner Clam Bar took down their signage and moved it to their second location on Coney Island’s Bowery. Gyro is one of the Mom and Pops which must vacate their longtime locations on the Boardwalk by November 4th.

At first we thought the lettering dated back to the old Playland Arcade and so did some of our friends. By Coney Island standards, it was the equivalent of an archaeological find! People have fond memories of Playland, which occupied the store from 1957 through 1981, according to its operator Stan Fox. But Stan informed us the ghost lettering is actually of more recent vintage: It belongs to an arcade that shared the corner with Gyro Corner for a spell in the late ’90s. You can listen to his memories of managing the Playland at this location for 20 years and other arcade stories in his audio interview in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive.

Balloon Dart

Balloon Dart, After the Season Is Over. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This weekend is Coney Island’s last of the 2011 season. The rides and games and arcades are still open, and yet this solitary Balloon Dart game has already been abandoned by its operator. As a carny kid, my first job was picking up darts and replacing busted balloons in Mom’s dart game. Although the painterly composition made me stop and take a photo, there’s something sad about seeing the remnants of the balloons left on the hooks.

Back wall at Ruby's

Back wall of Ruby's back wall... October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When you walk into Ruby’s Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk, you’ll notice the back wall is already stripped of its vintage photos of friends and fans. The task of packing up decades of memorabilia has already begun for Ruby’s owners Michael and Melody Sarrel. The photos behind the bar are still intact as you can see in the picture below. Rain or shine, Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” is scheduled for Saturday, October 29th Sunday, October 30, starting at 11 am and going on till ??? Of course, everyone is hoping for another reprieve, this time in the form of a multi-year lease from Luna Park operator Zamperla. If the deal gets done, Ruby’s owners will still have to pack up because all of the Boardwalk stores are expected to undergo extensive renovations. We’re not against renovations, we’re against loss of character. Goodbye, dear old Ruby’s! Will we recognize you if we’re lucky enough to meet again next season?

UPDATE October 27, 2011, 11:40 am

Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” was changed to Sunday, October 30, due to weather forecast for Saturday. Same time–11am till ??–same place. Check Ruby’s Facebook page for updates. Friends keep asking poignant questions that Ruby’s owners cannot possibly answer yet like “Will you be open for the first Polar Bear swim?” and “are we going for good, or just for the season????” We’ll keep on hoping, but 2012 is def not a done deal! We recommend coming out to say “Goodbye” this weekend to the seven Boardwalk Mom & Pops.


Ruby's Bar, late afternoon in October. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


Related posts on ATZ…

October 14, 2011: Photo of the Day: Vernacular Signage by Lindsay Wengler

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

September 29, 2010: Saved or Not? Signs from Coney Island’s Henderson Building

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