The newest in a slew of chains and franchisees betting on the new, year-round Coney Island is having its grand opening on Wednesday morning. Here’s a first look inside the Subway Cafe, which has long been under construction but until today was hidden behind a steel gate. Located on Surf Avenue across the street from Luna Park, the Subway spin-off features a “Tuscany-style interior” with sofas and photos of old New York. The restaurant’s hours on opening day will be 7:00 am til 10:00 pm.
First introduced as a restaurant concept in 2008, the Subway Cafe is part sandwich shop, part coffee bar. Its decor and layout aim for a “coffeehouse ambiance” and is a little larger than an average Subway. The north side of Surf Avenue already has a Subway, located down the street in Stillwell Terminal, but it does not sell coffee. In addition to Subway sandwiches, the new cafe’s expanded menu includes baked goods, dessert items and coffee offerings.
Unlike Manhattan, where Mom & Pops are being pushed out to make way for chains or upscale businesses, the new chains and franchises in Coney are moving into former furniture stores or long vacant spaces. The furniture shops on the north side of Surf have long been in violation of the C-7 amusement zoning and are gradually being replaced by restaurants and bars. As ATZ noted in 2013, when we first posted the scoop on Subway Cafe, rides and amusement businesses aren’t about to make a comeback on the north side due to the skyrocketing rents since the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009.
“I’m getting more inquiries than ever before,” said broker Joe Vitacco, who would like to bring a seafood and steak restaurant to the neighborhood. “It means that people are thinking about it. But I call half the people I talk to tourists.” Vitacco signed the lease in September 2013 with the restaurant chain for the 1,700 square foot cafe at 1019 Surf Avenue across the street from Luna Park.
Just how pricey is Coney Island’s north side of Surf? The building at 1019-1039 Surf was purchased for $3.1 million by 1019 Surf Ave Acquisition LLC in March 2013 for $3.1 million, according to Property Shark. Vitacco says the buyer was Russian multi-millionaire Yakov Yakubov.
During the hearings leading up to the Coney Island Rezoning of July 2009, a number of individuals and organizations including the Pratt Center for Community Development recommended adopting a formula business restriction policy within Coney East to prevent national retailers and fast food restaurants from locating there. Of course that didn’t happen because the zoning was written to attract these very businesses to Coney Island, as we noted in “Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?” (December 19, 2012).
Related posts on ATZ…
September 11, 2013: Subway Cafe to Replace Furniture Store on Coney Island’s Surf Ave
December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?