Nathan’s Famous has been in business in Coney Island since 1916, when Nathan and Ida Handwerker made a success out of selling a frankfurter in a bun for a nickel. This season, the world-renowned eatery will have its first-ever brick-and-mortar gift shop thanks to a licensing agreement with Maya Haddad and her father Haim, the entrepreneurial co-owners of Coney Island Beach Shop and the soon-to-debut Brooklyn Beach Shop.
Set to open on
March 31 April 5, Nathan’s Coney Island Gift Shop is a separate 500-square-foot space inside Nathan’s newly relocated Boardwalk outpost currently under construction at West 12th Street. “We’re manufacturing our own apparel,” Maya told ATZ. “We have 18 different graphic designs printed on T-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps. There’s also custom socks that make your feet look like hot dogs!” The hang tags are even shaped like one of Nathan’s Famous neon signs.
“The cool thing is we made it all private label,” says Maya, a graduate of Baruch College with a degree in business who left her job as a buyer at Macy’s to help grow her family’s business. Haim Haddad has owned his own store in Coney Island since 1996, operating Mermaid Horizons at Mermaid and Stillwell Avenues until the construction of Stillwell Terminal disrupted foot traffic and put him out of business. In 2002, he opened Coney Island Beach Shop on Stillwell Avenue behind Nathan’s. Last year, the Haddads opened the second Coney Island Beach Shop inside Stillwell Terminal. A large Boardwalk store called Brooklyn Beach Shop is slated to open this season next to Scream Zone’s entrance.
The opportunity to open Nathan’s Coney Island Gift Shop presented itself when the restaurant got the new location on the Boardwalk. “We had a great relationship with them for a decade and they always wanted to offer Nathan’s merchandise,” explains Maya. “We were going to do a licensing agreement with them anyway.”
Nathan’s already has an online store selling apparel and merchandise like tote bags and golf balls printed with the Nathan’s Famous logo. Some of these items will be available in the brick-and-mortar shop. At the same time, the items offered for sale in the Boardwalk store will be sold online.
“We met with the president of Nathan’s and the marketing manager to utilize resources like old photos they’ve collected over the years,” says Maya. “One of them is being used on a T-shirt. The others are for postcards and magnets.” The souvenir items, which are currently being manufactured in the U.S., will take longer to arrive in the shop.
The gift shop interior is painted “American Cheese” yellow, a color that’s two shades lighter than Nathan’s iconic yellow, says Maya. “We’re putting up a flat screen TV that’s going to have images of Nathan’s and Coney Island.” She’s also looking forward to displaying a prized souvenir T-shirt that was autographed by the championship eaters in last year’s hot dog eating contest. Says Maya, “I can’t wait till the Fourth of July!” After the grand opening, Nathan’s Famous Coney Island Gift Shop will be open daily.
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March 11, 2012: Photo Album: Under Construction in Coney Island 2012
December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs
November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk
October 17, 2011: Popeyes Chicken Returning to Coney Island’s Surf Avenue