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1959

1959: Paul's wife and daughter visit him on the Bowery. Photo © Tina Georgoulakos via Paul's Daughter Facebook

We’re thrilled to report that this afternoon, Tina Georgoulakos of Paul’s Daughter, formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, signed an 8-year lease for her family’s restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk. “I’m happy because the Burger statues wanted to stay where they belonged,” she told ATZ wryly. “Now they will get a new sign.”

In October, Papa Burger, a fiberglass figure on the restaurant’s roof, sported a sign that said “Looking for a New Beach.” The 49-year old Mom-and-Pop had been evicted along with seven others by Zamperla, which runs Luna Park. In a surprising about-face, the amusement operator invited two of the businesses–Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar–to stay and negotiations have been going on for weeks.

Both Papa and Mama Burger and a mix of new and old hand-painted signage as well as a neon sign are expected to be part of the new Paul’s Daughter when it reopens in April 2012. Tina’s father, 82-year-old Paul “The Chief” Georgoulakos, the oldest operator on the Coney Island Boardwalk, will be back too. It appears that our habit of taking photos of “The Last French Fry” as a good luck charm worked two years in a row!

UPDATE December 12, 2011…Zamperla’s Boardwalk line-up for 2012 is now set. As we noted in the comments, Ruby’s Bar signed an 8-year lease, as did another Boardwalk veteran, the Lola Star Boutique. Tom’s of Prospect Heights will open a second restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk, at the corner of Stillwell where Nathan’s and Cha Cha’s were located. See “Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk” (ATZ, November 15, 2011) for details and renderings of the new stores, including Nathan’s, Brooklyn Beach Shop, Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, as well as the new Sky Coaster and other rides.

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November 13, 2011: The End of Paul’s Daughter As We Know It–Will They Return?

October 13, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Americana Looking for New Beach

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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rubys

Ruby's Bar's rendering for their new store on the Boardwalk. Photo via AmusingtheZillion.com

The rides, games and fun food at Coney Island’s Boardwalk amusement parks–Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and Scream Zone– will of course be back in 2012. There will also be new–and possibly a few old made new–restaurants, shops and amusements. At Friday’s AIA panel on “Planning the Future of Coney Island’s Amusement District,” an audience of architects and Coney Island regulars got a sneak peek at what the Boardwalk might look like in 2012 and beyond.

Luna Park’s plans for Go Karts and a Sky Coaster on Stillwell Avenue West were unveiled along with the Boardwalk businesses renderings for new stores in 2012. We can also look forward to the B & B Carousell, set to spin in the new Steeplechase Plaza in 2013, and the New York Aquarium’s Ocean Wonders shark exhibit, expected to open in 2015.

“The skyline is growing in Coney Island and we’re very excited to see what happens next,” said Nate Bliss, president of the Coney Island Development Corporation. The panel discussion about new architectural projects was hosted by AIA NY’s Architectural Tourism Committee.

speed zone

Speed Zone will be on Parcel C, on the west side of Stillwell Ave at the Boardwalk. Photo via AmusingtheZillion.com

Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla USA and their park division, Central Amusement International (CAI), which runs Luna Park, showed the Boardwalk businesses’ renderings for their new stores. Among the businesses are Boardwalk favorites Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, whose return is not yet 100 per cent certain because they are still in lease negotiations with CAI. (Update: December 9, 2011…Ruby’s, Paul’s Daughter and Lola Star have signed 8-year leases!) Ferrari also showed his company’s plans for “Parcel C,” the third City-owned parcel that is part of the amusement operator’s 10-year lease. Speed Zone, as it called in the rendering presented by Zamperla, will be across the avenue from Scream Zone. (Update: Zamperla has since shelved the idea of creating a separate park called “Speed Zone.” The two new rides will instead operate as part of Scream Zone.)

A Sky Coaster is a high thrill ride combining elements of skydiving and hang-gliding in which riders are winched to the top of a 100 to 300 foot tall launch tower and then swing through the sky as they drop towards the ground. Each “flight” lasts about five minutes. Manufactured by SkyCoaster Inc., the ride is a popular attraction at over 75 parks around the world. Here’s their official video.

As ATZ reported last month, CAI filed plans to bring Go Karts and a water ride to Stillwell Avenue West. Go Karts were a popular attraction in Coney Island until Thor Equities bought the property leased by Batting Range and Go Kart City in 2006 and evicted them. Though the water ride was not mentioned at Friday’s presentation, we previously reported the Coney Island Rumor Mill is saying the Reverchon flume will be moved from Luna Park to free up space for new rides in the park. (Update: The water ride will stay put in Luna Park this season.)

According to CAI’s contract with the City, the amusement operator is required to do an annual review of each of their rides for popularity and present the City with an updated ride selection and layout for the coming season by December 31st. “This will assist Tenant in keeping the leased Premises innovative and fresh,” the contract says. CAI’s original plan for Parcel C in the contract was for two Go Kart tracks, so the current plan is a more diverse mix of amusements.

beach shop

Beach Shop's rendering for their new store on the Boardwalk. The location is the former Coney Island Souvenir Shop. Photo via AmusingtheZillion.com

Coney Island Beach Shop, which sells T-shirts, beach gear and souvenirs year-round at their original location on Stillwell Avenue behind Nathan’s, opened a new shop in Stillwell Terminal this summer. In 2012, the Haddad family, Haim and his daughter Maya, is expected to open their third location on the Boardwalk. Called Brooklyn Beach Shop, the store will occupy the former Coney Island Souvenir Shop. It’s a prime location situated between the entrance to Scream Zone and Ruby’s Bar. All of the stores on the Boardwalk were required to design elaborate lighted signage. The rendering for Beach Shop’s dazzling marquee shows a Steeplechase Funny Face and a classic bare bulb sign spelling out their name.

nathans

Nathan's rendering for their new store on the Boardwalk. The location is the former Gyro Corner Clam Bar at W 12th St. Photo via AmusingtheZillion.com

Nathan’s Famous will open a huge new restaurant at the corner of West 12th on the Boardwalk at Gyro Corner Clam Bar’s former location. Their satellite restaurant at the corner of Stillwell on the Boardwalk will close. As ATZ reported earlier this month, Randazzo’s Clam Bar of Sheepshead Bay is eyeing Cha Cha’s location. The Randazzo family-owned and operated restaurant began in 1908 and is a perennial “Best” among New York City seafood restaurants. Nathan’s began as a nickel hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1916 and is of course named after Nathan Handwerker, who co-founded the restaurant with his wife Ida.

UPDATE December 12, 2011Tom’s Restaurant, a popular family-owned Prospect Heights eatery founded in 1936, edged out Randazzo’s for the space formerly occupied by Cha Cha’s and Nathan’s. Tom’s of Coney Island expects to open in April 2012 this summer.

Lola Star Boutique: Design for Lighted Sign. Photo courtesy Lola Star

Lola Star Boutique is expected to stay in its skinny and chic little shop on the Boardwalk. That’s good news because Lola Star owner Dianna Carlin got evicted twice by Joe Sitt and was able to return to her original Boardwalk location only after the City bought the property and offered her the space. Carlin is an entrepreneurial spirit whose successful projects include the Dreamland Roller Rink, a shop in Stillwell Terminal and a pop-up shop in SoHo. We missed getting a good photo of her rendering at the AIA, so we asked Lola to send us a jpeg of the lighted sign for the shop. “The new version is even MORE spectacular!,” says Carlin. “It’s a Lola Star pinup on Rollerskates rotating on a gigantic disco ball.”

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 what appears to be new hand-painted signage along the bottom. Like Ruby’s, Paul’s Daughter is still in lease negotiations with Zamperla. The restaurant is the subject of Sunday’s post “The End of Paul’s Daughter As We Know It–Will They Return?” (ATZ, November 12, 2011).

UPDATE December 9, 2011…We’re thrilled to report that this afternoon, Tina Georgoulakos of Paul’s Daughter signed an 8-year lease for her family’s restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk! “Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk” ATZ, December 9, 2011. All of the above-mentioned stores, including locally-owned businesses Ruby’s Bar and Lola Star Boutique, have now signed leases for their Boardwalk locations. Happily, the Coney Island Boardwalk will not be gentrified and corporatized after all!

pauls

Architectural rendering for the new Paul's Daughter shown at November 11 Coney Island Panel at AIA. Photo via Amusing the Zillion

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May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

March 14, 2012: Coney Entrepreneurs to Open 1st Ever Nathan’s Gift Shop

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

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

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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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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