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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!

Halloween

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

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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

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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

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

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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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Boardwalk Sunset Cruise

Boardwalk Sunset Cruise. October 13, 2008. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

Coney Island’s world-famous, 2.7-mile Boardwalk is listed among America’s Best Beach Boardwalks by the travel editors at National Geographic, Travel + Leisure and USA Today. Will it qualify for this honor if only four blocks in the amusement area remain wood and the rest is paved with concrete and plastic wood? A Parks Department spokeswoman told Brooklyn’s Courier News that concrete was chosen because it’s about $40 per foot cheaper than real wood.

The Bloomberg administration’s plan to pave the Coney Island Boardwalk will be voted on by the City’s Public Design Commission. A friend forwarded the info that the PDC hearing is at 10:30 am on Monday, October 24th. It is recommended that you get there at 10 am to sign in. “Please bring others if you can as this is our best chance to defeat this,” writes Rob Burstein of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. The local Community Board voted 21 to 7 against the plan in May, but their vote was ignored because New York City’s CBs are advisory boards.

News stories about the Boardwalk redo gave the impression that the Public Design Commission vote was a foregone conclusion, possibly because the members are all Mayoral appointees. However, after reading the letter from Burstein and Friends of the Boardwalk’s Todd Dobrin, we took a closer look at the Design Commission. “The Gatekeepers,” a report in the Architect’s Newspaper, described the PDC as “little known to the public and a mystery even to many architects.” Commission members are a distinguished group including architects, artists and representatives of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. They serve pro bono. Hey, we think it’s worth a shot. It could be your last chance to save Coney Island’s Boardwalk from becoming a Concretewalk.

PLEASE SAVE THIS DATE: MONDAY, OCTOBER 24TH
WHERE: NYC PUBLIC DESIGN COMMISSION,
253 Broadway (opposite City Hall), 5th floor, New York, NY
TIME: TO BE ANNOUNCED AND FORWARDED

Dear friends and neighbors:

I’m writing to ask you to join us on Monday, October 24th, at the NYC Design Commission. There will be a hearing about the proposed plan to replace the iconic Brighton Beach and Coney Island boardwalk with concrete slabs. A small group of us showed up a few weeks ago to express our displeasure with this Parks Department’s proposal so the hearing was changed to the date above. This was so that the Commission could hear our objections regarding this plan for the boardwalk.

THIS IS OUR BEST CHANCE FOR DEFEATING THIS PLAN!We need a substantial number of people at this hearing to express their displeasure with the proposal. The people on this Commission have no idea what impact their decisions have on this community. As neighbors who enjoy the boardwalk and don’t want it turned into a sidewalk or driveway, I’m hoping to prevail upon you to join us and express your outrage at this horrendous plan. We all have too many responsibilities and too little time, but many of us are taking off from our jobs yet again in order to attend this most important meeting. Won’t you join with us? Your presence is important! This Commission is not an advisory body. They make the final decision as to whether or not this project goes forward. Please don’t let cynicism about the good it does to show up at a hearing such as this stop you from coming. It CAN make a difference! Look at what happened when enough of us showed up to object to construction of the proposed amphitheater in Asser Levy/Seaside Park. This Commission stopped the plan because enough community members showed up to object. Please support us and our community once again. Please attend and tell your friends and neighbors to join us!

The time on the 24th will be announced in the next day or two and I will forward it on once it’s been set. Thanks for your consideration and support!

Rob Burstein, Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance
Todd Dobrin, Friends of the Boardwalk

UPDATE March 7, 2012:

The next public hearing at the Design Commission is set for Monday, March 12. For more info, see the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s new website.

UPDATE October 25, 2011:

Victory! ATZ is happy to report that the Design Commmission has stopped the Parks Department from going ahead with the concretewalk. NY1 covered the hearing — watch the video here. As Todd Dobrin of Friends of the Boardwalk says in the vid: “I think that it’s great that the Design Commission has come to the conclusion that more environmental and engineering studies are required before this project goes forward.”

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February 29, 2012: Exclusive: Coney Boardwalk Group’s Letter to PDC Rebuts Parks

May 5, 2011: May 7: Coney Island Boardwalk Trash Can Art Contest

November 15, 2010: Nov 16: Concrete, Wood or Plastic? Discussion on Future of Coney Island Boardwalk

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

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Sodexo This Way

Sodexo This Way: Sign directing trainees to Sodexo restaurant in Luna Park, Coney Island. April 12, 2011. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

Bringing in Miami Beach restaurateurs and French food services giant Sodexo to operate in Coney Island has turned out to be a fiasco for Luna Park developer Central Amusement International. We’re just glad some of the people in charge realized Coney Island is neither Miami Beach nor a corporate cafeteria before we lost all of our original, irreplaceable businesses and ended up with a shuttered Boardwalk.

After kicking out nine Coney Island Mom and Pops from City-owned property to make way for upscale eateries, the park division of Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla is now reported to be offering multi-year leases to at least two local favorites — Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar. The veteran businesses were supposed to pack up and get out by November 4th. Let’s hope they can negotiate a lease without too many onerous clauses and more of them get the invite. And if a spot becomes available, please, please bring in people who know and represent Coney Island and Brooklyn, New York.

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One of the reasons for Zamperla’s about-face is that the Miami Beach restaurateurs who opened Coney Cones in July are pulling out of a $5 million deal that would have put new eateries on the Boardwalk from West 12th Street to Stillwell. According to yesterday’s New York Post story by Rich Calder, Coney Cones co-owner Michele Merlo said business at his new store had been “very disappointing” because of the bad weather and told other Boardwalk vendors “they can’t make money off Zamperla’s existing lease offer.”

Sources tell ATZ that Merlo and his partner Julio Gonzalez have offered to sell Coney Cones, which was a $200,000 investment for them and pays an annual rent of $75,000, to a veteran operator in Coney Island. The ice cream shop is located at the Boardwalk entrance to Luna Park and serves gelato, salads, panini, and Kobrick’s coffee. Currently open every day from 11am till around 7pm, it will close for the season at the end of the month.

Unmentioned in yesterday’s flurry of news reports was another newcomer to Coney Island also pulling back from the original plan. Sodexo, which has food and drink kiosks in Luna Park and operates the new Cyclone Cafe on Surf Avenue, was slated to take over Paul’s Daughter. Last December, Sodexo rep Sandy Boyd showed up at the 40-year-old Boardwalk establishment to pick up plans from the City’s architectural firm. As ATZ reported in “Paul’s Daughter Dishes on the Boardwalk Brawl” (ATZ, January 13, 2011), when one of the architects asked Boyd if Sodexo was going to be a year-round restaurant, she replied “oh no, it will be seasonal, there aren’t enough people here off season.” This was a remarkable admission since part of Zamperla’s rationale for bringing in new businesses to replace the veterans was that the Boardwalk eateries would be open year-round.

Healthy Dining

On the menu at Sodexo's Cyclone Cafe: Healthy Dining at Luna Park. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

Sodexo, the world’s 21st largest corporation, has kept a low profile in Coney Island. The only sign we’ve seen with their name is the piece of paper at the top of this post. It was put up to direct trainees to their restaurant in the spring. ATZ broke the news last year that Sodexo has an exclusive contract with CAI to provide food within the parks and was investing $2.4M in Zamperla’s Coney Island. At the time Luna Park CEO Valerio Ferrari told ATZ that $1.4 million was being invested in the new sit-down restaurant. He said it would be open year-round and feature waiter service and a variety of food. As for the Boardwalk, Sodexo-run restaurants were set to take over “some but not all” of the Boardwalk locations, Ferrari said, including Paul’s Daughter and Pio Pio Riko, which flanked the Boardwalk entrance to Luna Park. Things changed.

Sodexo’s Cyclone Cafe opened this season on Surf Avenue at West 10th Street with a menu of burgers, salads, sushi and brick oven pizza, but it is neither a sit-down restaurant nor a year-round venue. It has been closed on sunny weekdays in recent weeks while the Boardwalk Mom and Pops were open. During Halloween Horror Nights at Luna Park, the cafe is open only to patrons of the ticketed event inside the park. While its Surf Avenue lights blaze, its shutters are closed to the public. When the spot was Gregory and Paul’s, the picnic tables on the sidewalk were one of our favorite spots to sit and have a bite to eat while friends rode the Cyclone.

shuttered on Surf

Shuttered on Surf Avenue: Sodexo's Cyclone Cafe. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

We’re happy to have officially suspended the Photo of the Day in ATZ’s “Countdown to Corporatization.” The sad goodbye to our Boardwalk friends began with “The Chief of the Coney Island Boardwalk” on October 8th. Rumors of another reprieve had been flying for a few days, which is why we stopped the series on Saturday.

One note of caution: The owners of Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter have not yet negotiated lease deals with Luna Park operator Central Amusement International, which holds a 10-year lease on the City-owned property. The specter of a dark Boardwalk puts the pressure on everyone for the deal to get done. But the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been abuzz about onerous terms in the leases that CAI has offered to the handful of operators who were previously invited to stay as well as to the Miami restaurateurs. The businesses are also expected to foot the bill for the rehab of the buildings as well as pay a higher rent and stay open year round.

Luna BBQ

Sodexo's Luna BBQ, Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

One of the problems with a mandated year-round Coney season and hours is that unlike Luna Park, the restaurants are not subsidized businesses. Each of the Boardwalk Mom and Pops has been paying $100,000 per year rent, plus a $10,000 surcharge initiated this year to help keep the Boardwalk restrooms open later and for sanitation and fireworks. Believe it or not, $100,000 is also the base rent that CAI/Zamperla USA pays annually to the City. In addition, they also pay a small percentage of the gross receipts. For example, ten percent of gross receipts over $7 million. According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s lease with CAI (which ATZ obtained last year through the Freedom of Information Act), the City will receive 15% of the fixed rent paid by any subtenant. Zamperla gets to keep the other 85%. We think they have a pretty sweet deal with the City and should pass the sugar.

However, CAI/Zamperla USA has also invested nearly $30 million in building and operating Luna Park and Scream Zone. According to CAI’s contract with the City, Luna Park also received a subsidy of $5.7 million from the City for “among other things, facilitating the purchase of certain equipment necessary for the Tenant to operate the Premises as a first class amusement park.” CAI’s Luna Park and Scream Zone as well as the property occupied by the Boardwalk businesses are on City-owned land in Coney Island purchased from Thor Equities for $95.7 million in 2009 and leased to the amusement operator for a ten-year period that began in 2010.

Ruby's

Ruby's Bar, Coney Island. November 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

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

March 3, 2011: The Lowdown on Sodexo’s Sweet Deal in Coney Island

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

January 26, 2010: Scoop: Zamperla’s $24M Coney Island Park to be Named Luna Park!

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Popeyes Chicken former location in the now demolished Henderson Building. Surf & Stillwell Aves., Coney Island. August 21, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Popeyes Chicken is returning to the south side of Coney Island’s Surf Avenue after more than a year’s absence. The owner has leased the first floor of the Popper Building at 1220 Surf Avenue, just a few doors down from his previous location and has started renovations. The restaurant owner had been in business year-round in Coney Island for 27 years when he lost his lease in the now-demolished Henderson Building at the corner of Surf and Stillwell. The Thor Equities-owned property was one of four lots in Coney Island rezoned by the City for high rise hotels, which set the stage for Thor’s evictions of longtime businesses and demolition of historic buildings.

The popular fried chicken and biscuit restaurant served its last supper at midnight on August 24, 2010. A previously reported deal to lease space in a proposed new restaurant building on the north side of Surf fell through after Horace Bullard sold the property instead of leasing it.

Popper

Popper Building, 1220 Surf Avenue, Coney Island. July 30, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The Popper Building has a distinctive old copper sign that says “Herman Popper & Bro.” Though it does not have landmark designation, the building as well as its original owner have a colorful history. Herman Popper was a whiskey distiller and wholesale liquor seller who once supplied most of the Bowery dives and concert halls. His business extended to Sundays, though selling liquor on the Lord’s Day was then illegal. When his friend John “Boss” McKane was tried in 1894 for conspiracy, Popper was called to testify since he had been in charge of one of McKane’s “paster” booths in a notorious ballot-box stuffing scheme. “Yes sir,” he said when the City attorney asked “Isn’t your Coney Island place open on Sunday?,” according to a report in the New York Times. “The witness got tangled up at once, and wanted to take back his answer.” Finally he acknowledged he ‘received orders’ on Sunday, as directed by John McKane.

The Popper’s most recent first floor tenants were a group of homegrown flea market vendors, some of whom have found new locations in the neighborhood. The building was home to a Carvel ice cream shop from the mid 1970’s through about 1995, according to former Playland arcade operator Stan Fox. He also remembers a greyhound racing game and other games at the location. The art dealer who has owned the building since 1998 occupies the second floor. Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York popped in for a visit in the summer of 2009.

Surf Ave

Eldorado and Popper Building, Surf Ave, Coney Island. Coney Island. July 30, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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August 23, 2010: Vid: Thor’s Coney Island: After 3 Decades, Last Supper at Popeye’s & Au Revoir Souvenirs

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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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

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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