Posts Tagged ‘Cha-Cha’s’

Cha Cha’s, “Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys” and “Live Entertainment for the Hole Family” is gone from the new Coney Island, but the video “Coney Island Poker Face” lives on! Shot in September 2010 by historian Charles Denson, the video features Cha Cha’s regular Frankie Oil dancing to Lady Gaga’s hit while his pal Johnny Corona cheers him on.

Try typing “Live Entertainment for the Hole family” and Google will ask — Did you mean: “Live entertainment for the whole family”?

Nope, we meant “Hole Family.” The charmingly idiosyncratic spelling on the sign is visible in Denson’s slow pan of the Boardwalk bar and cafe, which also takes in the floral wreath for Cha Cha’s longtime manager John Thomas, who had just died, and the lettering of the doomed Shoot the Freak next door. Was “The Hole Family” a painter’s typo? An inside joke like the sign’s enigmatic “Don’t Sleep”? It definitely caught people’s attention and became a conversation piece.

“HA HA HA! Classic.”— A Guy Walks into 365 Bars

Who is this “Hole Family” you speak of? –PJ Coleman via flickr

“Where else but Brooklyn would you see a sign that offered ‘Live Entertainment For The Hole family.’ Who’s the Hole family? Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain?” — MemoriesofBrooklyn.blogspot.com

ATZ uncovered clues to the identity of “the Hole Family” a few years ago, but amid the upheaval over Cha Cha’s Boardwalk bar losing its lease in 2011 and the move to Surf Avenue sans the original sign, we never had a chance to write about it. Cha Cha’s officially closed after SuperStorm Sandy.

Whole Darnd Family

Coney Island, The Whole Darnd Family. circa 1910. Bain News Service

“The Hole Family” is related to the Whole Darnd family, who are pictured visiting Coney Island with their monkeys in this vintage photo, which also happens to be part of the mosaic at the top of this blog. The Darnd family is a polite takeoff on the title of Edwin S Porter’s silent screen hit “The Whole Dam Family and the Family Dog” (1905).

According to one of the many comic postcards and lithos featuring the Dam family– Mr. I.B. Dam, Miss U.B Dam and their relatives — they were the most popular and widely known family in the United States on account of their unfortunate last name. “Too much notoriety” was rumored to have killed the Dam Family. The curious thing is that at 2:36, the animated letters spell out The Hole Dam Family before the last letter, the “W,” finally tumbles into place.


Related posts on ATZ…

December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

August 16, 2011: Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island

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Cha Cha's

Cha Cha’s Surf Avenue Bar and Grill, Coney Island. April 2012

Cha Cha’s of Coney Island, which relocated to Surf Avenue last spring after losing their lease on the Boardwalk, is closing for good. The announcement was made last night via the bar and restaurant’s Facebook and twitter:

Reactions from fans and followers ranged from “NOOOO!” and “I’ll miss those gogo times we had!!” to “Thanks for the good times over the years.”

As recently as January, the plan was to fix the place up after flood damage from Sandy and make a go of it. “OK! we had our meeting and the game plan is being set in motion to rebuild and open the old Cha Chas space on Surf Ave by spring. As info comes in we’ll keep everyone informed with the new and improved space on Surf Ave.”

Yesterday’s announcement did not give a reason for the closing. Given the challenges faced by businesses in their rebuilding efforts, we’d have to guess that Sandy is responsible for shuttering this Coney Island mainstay, which had survived the death of its manager “JT” and eviction by Zamperla. Cha Cha’s former Boardwalk location was the site of the original Club Atlantis and is now Tom’s Restaurant.

Cha Cha's Coney Island

Coney Island After Sandy: Cleanup at Cha Cha’s Surf Avenue, November 17, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia also owns Cha Cha’s In Bocca Al Lupo in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Last season, in addition to relocating his Coney Island bar to Surf Avenue, he put his name on Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park on Thor’s Stillwell Avenue property. The park had carnival rides as well as an al fresco bar. Will Cha Cha’s name turn up in another location in Coney Island? That depends whether he still has sand in his shoes after Sandy. We’re not saying goodbye to Coney Island’s “Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys” and “Live Entertainment for the Hole Family” just yet.

Cha Cha's

Cha Cha’s Bar & Cafe on the Coney Island Boardwalk. June 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita


Related posts on ATZ…

May 17, 2012: Coney Island’s Cha Cha Puts His Name on Steeplechase

April 7, 2012: Cheers! First Drink at Relocated Cha Cha’s of Coney Island

January 16, 2012: Photo of the Day: Signs of Coney’s Club Atlantis Resurface

October 30, 2011: Nov 1: Auction Sale at Cha Cha’s, 4 Others on Coney Island Boardwalk

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ohn 'Cha Cha' Ciarcia's Funny Face Logo, Coney Island

ohn ‘Cha Cha’ Ciarcia’s Funny Face Logo, Coney Island

The official name of the new amusement park set to open on Thor Equities Stillwell lot in Coney Island is Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, according to an announcement yesterday by restaurant and club owner John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia. His Club Atlantis, which was evicted from the Boardwalk at the end of last season, is making a comeback on Stillwell, too. Given that signs briefly appeared on the lot with a Tilyouesque Funny Face resembling Cha Cha heralding the return of his Club Atlantis, perhaps we should have seen this branding campaign coming when we wrote “Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello Steeplechase Park”(ATZ, March 5, 2012).

Funny Face

All smiles–The ‘funny face’ Steeplechase caricature, 1951. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection.

George C. Tilyou’s “Funny Face,” variations of which are used to promote a slew of Coney Island products and businesses today, was original to his Steeplechase Park (1897-1964) and inspired New Jersey’s “Tillie.” The world-famous park was billed as “The Funny Place, Where 10,000 People Laugh at One Time.” Word on the street is that the new Steeplechase Park’s ride tickets will be emblazoned with the Coney Island Cha Cha logo. The lot was leased to the BK Festival for last summer’s flea market and this season’s combination of amusement rides, games and food, along with a smaller selection of merchandise vendors.

There will also be a Cha Cha’s Kiddie Park and Cha Cha’s Side Show Park on Thor’s Surf Avenue lots and Cha Cha’s outdoor Club Atlantis Bar on Stillwell. His former Boardwalk location, which is now leased to Tom’s Restaurant of Prospect Heights, was the site of the original Club Atlantis. The return of Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis and an outdoor bar resembling Beer Island marks the return of all of the bar and restaurant owners who were part of the “Coney Island Boardwalk 8” evicted by Zamperla. It comes at a time that both Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, who were offered leases after the initial evictions, are getting their renovated Boardwalk spaces ready to open on Memorial Day Weekend. Gyro Corner Clam Bar has a location at 12th Street and the Bowery. Steve’s Grill House moved to Thor’s Surf Avenue lot at Henderson Walk.

Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria in the former Surf N Turf Grill debuted on Easter Sunday. The Surf Avenue spot will have its grand opening on May 19 with special guest host Vincent Pastore of “The Sopranos” and a live performance by Killer Joe and the Mighty Lido Soul Quartet. Full press release below.

Cha Cha's

Cha Cha’s Surf Avenue Bar and Grill, Coney Island



Long time Coney Island personality John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia , who many know from his role on The Sopranos and his co-hosting of The Wiseguys Show on Sirius Radio, is back better than ever this year, just in time for the kick-off of the summer season, with several different businesses and amusement park lots, after being unceremoniously “booted” off the boardwalk last year in the very public rent/lease dispute with the giant Zamperla USA Corporation, which also affected several other longtime Coney Island business owners.

John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia and actor friend Tony Danza will preside over the official launch ceremony/press conference on Thursday, May 24th at 12 noon to announce the official grand opening of the new Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria (at 1315 Surf Ave.), the exclusive world debut of new amusement park ride The MegaWhirl, which was just developed and is the only one of its kind in the world, Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, Cha Cha’s Kiddie Park and Cha Cha’s Side Show Park (3 parks in total), along with Cha Cha’s outdoor Club Atlantis Bar……all located along Stillwell Ave. between Surf Ave. and the boardwalk.

All these businesses combined now give John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia more business space and amusement park lot space than any other one business owner in Coney Island.

As part of the official launch ceremony/press conference on Thursday, May 24th at 12 noon, the exclusive new MegaWhirl ride, the first one of its kind in the world, is making its debut at the family friendly Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, which has about eight rides in all, presented in association with BK Festivals. The MegaWhirl, a large flat ride, combines elements of the classic Whip with the Tilt-a-Whirl, and was developed jointly by Jonathan Gordon of Gordon Rides, LLC and Jeff Novotny of Larson International, Inc.” Gordon created the MegaWhirl as “a family thrill for kids, their parents, and everyone in between.”

All three parks……Cha Cha’s Steeplechase – The Fun Place Amusement Park, Cha Cha’s Kiddie Park and Cha Cha’s Side Show Park, along with Cha Cha’s outdoor Club Atlantis Bar (with a full bar) are all accessible from Stillwell Ave or from Surf Ave. Ciarcia wanted his ride parks to reflect the nostalgic, classic feel of the original Coney Island, so he brought in Artie Gillette at Castle Rock Amusements for some classic rides like the Retro-Scooter Bumper Cars, the old classic Himalaya, the Bavarian Fun House, etc.

In preparing for the 2012 summer season, Ciarcia first took over the old Coney Island Surf and Turf Grill on Surf Ave. and completely revamped the large restaurant space, which includes the only brick pizza oven in the Coney Island Boardwalk area, a full bar and has even built a stage for live music performances.

The space is now called Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria (at 1315 Surf Ave.) with a full menu serving brick oven pizza, various seafood dishes, linguini and clam sauce, mussels, Coney Island crab cakes, clams/oysters/shrimp at the raw bar and featuring live music several nights a week & special events. The new space also has an adjoining take-out cafe right next door, serving the brick oven pizza and various gelatos, frozen custard, frozen yogurt and Italian ices. Ciarcia plans to keep Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria open year round after this summer season.

The official Grand Opening Party for Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria will take place on Saturday, May 19th from 7pm on, with special guest host The Sopranos Vincent Pastore and a live performance by Killer Joe and the Mighty Lido Soul Quartet.

Memorial Day Weekend will feature Bobby Valli and the Jersey Boys Revue, doing a “Tribute to The Jersey Boys,” on Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th, with three shows a night at 8pm, 10pm and midnight. There is a $10 cover charge and a 2-drink minimum, or $25 per person for dinner.

** Cha Cha’s Coney Island Seafood Bar & Pizzeria is at 1315 Surf Ave. in Coney Island. Phone 718-946-1305 for reservations or more information.


Related posts on ATZ…

May 1, 2012: MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island

April 19, 2012: Rides Return to Thor’s Stillwell Lots for 1st Time Since 2008

April 7, 2012: Cheers! First Drink at Relocated Cha Cha’s of Coney Island

March 5, 2012: Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello “Steeplechase Park”

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