Posts Tagged ‘Clam Bar’

Joey Clams, New Chief Clam Shucker at Nathan's Famous

Joey Clams, New Chief Clam Shucker at Nathan’s on Surf Ave, Coney Island. June 8, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Joey Clams is baaack! He’s the new chief clam shucker at Nathan’s Famous new clam and oyster bar at Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. “They call me the mothershucker,” quipped Joey, who started working there this week.

Joey was the affable manager of Gyro Corner when it was on the Boardwalk and had a clam bar on the 12th Street side. Its “Hey Joey!” mural painted by L.A.-based Gents of Desire won acclaim from art critics and brought a measure of fame if not fortune to Joey Clams. The mural was painted over when the spot became Nathan’s Boardwalk location, but many photos of “Hey Joey!” can be found on flickr.


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Clams on the Half Shell

Clams on the Half Shell at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Coney Island’s Opening Weekend, ATZ was the second customer of the season to order a plate of clams at Paul’s Daughter on the Boardwalk. Delicious!
We followed up with our favorite fries. The former Gregory & Paul’s, now operated by Paul and his daughter Tina, has been in business more than 50 years.
Coney’s Boardwalk eateries and shops are now open daily, weather permitting, while the rides are open weekends in the spring.

Clam Bar Coney Island

Clam Bar at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr


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Randazzo's Clam Bar, a Sheepshead Bay Landmark. Photo © Charles Denson. All Rights Reserved

Last week, the buzz in Coney Island was that the folks from Randazzo’s Clam Bar, a landmark in Sheepshead Bay, were seen eyeing Cha Cha’s location on the Boardwalk. Coincidentally, “randazzosclambk” joined twitter and began following ATZ. The twitter page proclaims: “Randazzo’s is king of clams and lobster, shrimp and calamari, too!!! But it is most certainly all about grandma Helen Randazzo’s HOT or MEDIUM sauce!!!” Our appetite was piqued.

ATZ phoned Randazzo’s to ask if the rumor was true that they have plans to open a restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk. “It’s a possibility. We’re trying to,” said Joey Randazzo, son of Paul Randazzo, who is the star of the “Art of Opening a Clam” video on the New York Times website. Their family-owned and operated restaurant began in 1908 and is a perennial “Best” among New York City seafood restaurants. “We’re still trying to work out negotiations,” Joey Randazzo told ATZ. “There’s a committee that evaluates you. You have to be approved.”

Hmmm, well, we approve of their menu and their South Brooklyn cred. Randazzo’s has the potential to be a destination restaurant in Coney Island. We wish them the best of luck negotiating with Valerio Ferrari’s Vision for the Boardwalk Committee. As Ruby’s fan Bogframe writes on the Coney Island Message Board, “every time Valerio Ferrari says ‘vision,’ something valuable dies.” Last year at this time, Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla USA and Luna Park, told ATZ that the evicted Boardwalk Mom & Pops “didn’t have the vision that we have for the Boardwalk.” An investment of $1.4 million was being made by Sodexo in a new restaurant at the corner of Surf and 10th Street, formerly occupied by Gregory & Paul’s. He said that a Boardwalk restaurant/bar hoping to get a lease renewal would have had to make a million dollar investment as well.

ATZ asked Joey Randazzo if they were contemplating a $1 million investment at Cha Cha’s location. He said it could be half a million or a million, they’re not sure yet. As for the “randazzosclambk” twitter account, it stopped tweeting almost as soon as it started and Joey Randazzo says it’s not theirs.

The opportunity for Randazzo’s and others who are eyeing the Boardwalk opened up after a Miami restaurateur pulled out of a $5 million dollar deal to open four upscale eateries on the Boardwalk between Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street. Unlike Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, Cha Cha’s was not offered a new lease by Zamperla USA, which has a ten-year deal to develop the City-owned Boardwalk property purchased from Thor Equities in 2009.

Cha Cha’s last call was on Sunday and some of their restaurant equipment, furnishings and memorabilia was auctioned on Tuesday. Club owner John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, an actor in The Sopranos who also owns a restaurant in Little Italy, has been looking at other locations in Coney Island, including Surf Avenue and the Bowery. As the saying goes in Coney Island, once you’ve got sand in your shoes, you can’t get it out.

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. For a sneak peek at the Boardwalk line-up for 2012, see “Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk” (ATZ, Nov. 15, 2011).


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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

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

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Gyro Corner Clam Bar

Gyro Corner Clam Bar - Coney Island. June 10, 2008. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

Our fave photo of Gyro Corner Clam Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk is this night shot of the 12th Street side by silversalty. It’s lit up like a Chelsea art gallery waiting for reception-goers on a Thursday night. The photographer’s Coney Island set on flickr is rich with night images of such vanished wonders as Faber’s Fascination marquee, Astroland’s Breakdance and M & M Gyro’s signage. Gyro Corner Clam Bar will close and its hand-painted signage will become part of Coney’s vanished landscape after November 4, 2011.

If you live too far away to visit, check out the hundreds of photos on flickr as well as several in Roadside Art Online’s fascinating Gyros Project. We’ll miss these whimsical depictions of anthropomorphized clam waiters serving up plates of clams and “The Gyros Sandwich glorified.” Coney Island’s vernacular signage is widely appreciated as Art and Americana, though it doesn’t fit Luna Park operator Valerio Ferrari’s Europeanized “vision” for the new Boardwalk.

The 12th Street side of Gyro Corner is where the clam bar of “Hey Joey!” fame resides. When the mural was painted by L.A.-based Gents of Desire for Steve Powers’ Dreamland Artist Club in 2004, it won acclaim from art critics. “Combining F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic 1920s glamour with the tough stylings of L.A.’s Mexican street gangs,” wrote Andrew Hodges in The Brooklyn Rail. The real-life “Joey Clams” was interviewed by The New York Times:

Joey Pesca, the manager of the popular clam bar, also known as the Gyro Corner, at the Boardwalk and West 12th Street, said the wall sign painted for him by the Gents of Desire – otherwise known as Jonathan Bleser and Alexis Ross – has made his business a destination for art lovers and has given him a new appreciation for artists.

“They were actually a joy to be around,” Mr. Pesca, also known as Joey Clams, said of the Gents. “And at the end they added this little thing that says, ‘Hey Joey!,’ which has made me a little famous around here.”

Alas, we must now say goodbye to “Hey Joey!,” as we already did to Steve Powers’ Shoot Out the Star signs at the Henderson Building and Rita Ackermann’s mural on the Feltman’s Building. Goodbye to the flashy front-of-the-show vernacular signage at Gyro Corner and Paul’s Daughter and Steve’s Grill House. The new Boardwalk storefronts will be branded. We expect the facades and signage to look more uniform as well. It’s a harbinger of the City’s vision of a single operator Coney Island.

We’ll post photos of Gyro Corner’s Boardwalk signage before this series ends when the seven Boardwalk Mom and Pops vacate the premises on November 4th. ATZ is saying goodbye to old friends with a favorite photo (or two) a day. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the photos. Many thanks to Adrian Kinloch, who frequently photographs Coney Island, for this close-up of “Hey Joey!” from his superb Coney Island Design set on flickr.

Coney Island Signage

Coney Island Hand Painted Signage. December 3, 2006. Photo © Adrian Kinloch via http://www.adriankinloch.net/photography. All rights reserved


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

October 8, 2011: Photo of the Day: “The Chief” of the Coney Island Boardwalk

October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

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