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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island 8’

Sammy

Sammy Rodriguez at Ruby's Bar, Coney Island. June 20, 2007. Photo © Kevin C Downs Photography

Last week a friend sent us this invite to Sammy Rodriguez’s 85th birthday party to be held on October 1st at Ruby’s Bar and Grill. Coney Island’s beloved dive bar, which will close forever at the end of October, is throwing a birthday bash for its beloved longtime bartender.

With all the changes the past few years it has been a while since we have all been out on a weekend and hung out for a few together. So let’s have a last gathering party with everyone ON SAM”S BIRTHDAY! This is our final year so — ONE LAST BIG HURRAH IS IN ORDER!!!!!!

Sat. Oct 1st 2pm til ???

This is a celebration for Sam and Ruby’s and the years they have had together in Coney. This is not a Save Coney Party or a Media party, this is a party of friends/summer family to celebrate our memories with Sam and Ruby’s.

Sam came from Puerto Rico and worked as a porter, fry cook and bartender in Coney Island for six decades. The story goes that he had a job at the spot “under the boardwalk” before Ruby Jacobs bought the place and kept him on. As one of my friends says, “He helped create Ruby’s as we know it.” Sam’s birthday is October 1st, which this year of all years luckily happens to fall on a weekend. Since he retired five years ago, it’s become a tradition for Sam to come up from Puerto Rico to celebrate his birthday at Ruby’s. We’ll be there to wish him a happy 85th birthday and many more to come, but the sad fact is it may be the last time for this get-together. Will Sam and friends make the trip to Coney Island once Ruby’s is gone? More than 450 attended the big bash when Sam turned 80.

Last call at Ruby’s Bar will be on Saturday, October 29 Sunday, October 30, 2011. Along with seven other Mom-and-Pop businesses, including Paul’s Daughter and the Suh family’s souvenir shop next door, Ruby’s was kicked to the curb by New York City’s Economic Development Corporation and Zamperla’s Central Amusement International to make way for a corporatized, gentrified Boardwalk. This is of course last year’s news (“Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back,” ATZ, November 1, 2010). As Valerio Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla USA/CAI told us that day: “They didn’t have the vision that we have for the Boardwalk. It’s a business decision.”

What else is there to say? Come out on October 1st and October 29th, and anytime in between to raise a glass to Sammy and Ruby’s and yes, sentimentality –a word that is not in the playbook of the powers that be. On New Year’s Day and Opening Day, we’ll especially miss our old friends. Ironically, these small, family-owned businesses on the Boardwalk managed to keep Coney Island alive and thriving through tough times, even when real estate speculator Joe Sitt was their landlord. It was only after the Bloomberg administration “saved” the People’s Playground by buying the property from Sitt for an astounding $95.7 million dollars of taxpayer money that the Mom-and-Pops got evicted en masse. This is just wrong.

Ruby's

Ruby's, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

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March 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter: “We love Coney Island and we love what we do”

January 13, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Dishes on the Boardwalk Brawl

January 6 2011: Exclusive: NYCEDC Kiss-Off Letter to Coney Island Boardwalk 8

April 23, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk Businesses Open for 2010

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Yes, all eight of the Coney Island 8 signed the agreement with property manager Zamperla’s Central Amusement International and the City that will allow 7 of them–Shoot the Freak is out– to lease their City-owned Boardwalk locations for one final summer. The Georgoulakos family, owners of Paul’s Daughter, one of the Coney Island 8 Mom & Pop businesses, sent out the following statement today:

We are excited about returning for the 2011 season, but at the same time, this settlement is bittersweet. It is not the outcome we were hoping for, but the one we thought attainable. We love Coney Island and we love what we do. We have been in this location for 41 years through the good and the bad. It has been our living, our family, our heart and soul. We do not know what the future holds, but it is our wish that Coney Island remain the unique, quirky, fun place for all that is has always been — with or without us. Hope to see you on the Boardwalk this summer!

Happily, we’ll have to revise the captions on our photos of “the last French fry” at Paul’s Daughter and “last call” at Ruby’s. Let’s see plenty of eating, drinking and being merry at the Boardwalk establishments this summer, for they are contractually obligated to exit quietly at the end of the season.

As ATZ reported in January, Sodexo, the world’s 22nd 21st largest corporation, will open their own restaurant at Paul’s Daughter’s location. A year-round sports bar is planned for the space occupied by Ruby’s and Coney Island Souvenirs.

The other evicted businesses granted a reprieve for 2011 are Ruby’s Bar, Cha Cha’s, Steve’s Grill House, Gyro Corner, Beer Island and Coney Island Souvenirs. Ruby’s posted a message on their Facebook page:

It is Official. A deal was signed yesterday, and we are happy to announce that RUBY’S will be celebrating our 36th year in business, and will be open for the 2011 season. This small victory has happened in part due to the help and support of ALL of our loyal friends, and patrons. THANK YOU!!!

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

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

November 10, 2010: This Week in Coney Island: Party at Paul’s Daughter, Hypocrisy at NYCEDC

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

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Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Looks like the Coney Island Boardwalk may not be corporatized and Sodexo-fied this summer after all! Sources tell ATZ that the Mom and Pops known as “The Coney Island 8” who have been fighting eviction since November are being offered leases for the 2011 season by amusement operator Zamperla. The lease is said to be prepared and waiting for the parties to sign on the dotted line on or before February 16th. That’s tomorrow, when both sides are due back in court for the hearing that was postponed from last month.

The deal has been on our radar for the past few weeks, which is why we’ve been uncharacteristically silent on the subject. Sources have been telling us the lease has many stipulations, including a confidentiality clause, and the deal could go either way. If the deal gets done, we predict Zamperla will once again be seen as the good guy for giving up their strong arm tactics of recent months. Out with the old, in with the new will be postponed till 2012 and visitors will again be able to enjoy a beer at Ruby’s Bar and french fries at Paul’s Daughter. Shoot the Freak is expected to move to a new location to make way for the Boardwalk entrance of Zamperla’s new Scream Zone, but the rest of the businesses would reopen in their current locations.

Shoot the Freak

Shoot the Freak on Fourth of July. July 4, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The one-year reprieve for the Mom and Pops would end on November 1, 2011, when they will be required to pack up and go. The lease is said to be for the same amount of rent as previous years. Ruby’s, Paul’s Daughter, Cha Cha’s and others paid $100,000 for the season. An additional season would give the businesses an opportunity to set aside some money for moving costs and time to find a new location. Zamperla’s Central Amusement International has a 10-year lease on the City-owned property. As ATZ first reported last year, Zamperla also has an exclusive contract with Sodexo for food and facilities management.

Sources tell ATZ the lease stipulations include a confidentiality or nondisclosure clause, which would restrict the Coney Island 8 from making public statements about the situation. It won’t be the first time these businesses had to agree to zip their lips to keep their spot on the Boardwalk.

When Thor Equities owned the Boardwalk property, the majority of businesses had leases with a confidentiality clause prohibiting all public comments about the redevelopment of Coney Island, not only for the term of the lease, but for three years after its termination. Violation of this clause would have resulted in immediate eviction and a $10,000 fine for each instance of a violation. This clause prevented the businesses from participating in the public hearings that ultimately determined the rezoning and the future of Coney Island.

Ruby's Bar & Grill

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

With 62 days left till Coney Island’s official opening day, we applaud a deal that insures the Boardwalk will be open for business. At the same time, that doesn’t let the City and its quasi-governmental agencies in charge of Coney Island redevelopment–the Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) and the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC)–off the hook for not including a provision for local small businesses when the City made their lease agreement with Zamperla.

In regard to the Boardwalk operators prospects, City officials were less than candid from the day the property was purchased from Thor Equities. At the press conference, which we watched live, Shoot the Freak owner Anthony Berlingieri posed a question to the Mayor, who was taken aback. The question was “Is there a place for us?” NYEDC’s President Seth Pinsky, who is a very slick talker, stepped up to the mike to reply. Pinsky said “Our intention is for the foreseeable future to keep all the tenants in place, certainly through next summer [2010]. And we’re going to be looking to work with each of you to figure out where it makes sense for the various tenants to remain as we build out the amusement park.”

Interestingly, that part of the press conference was excised from the version that went up on the web. If a reporter from the Brooklyn Paper hadn’t followed up with a story, it would have been excised from history.

As it turns out the EDC and their satellite the CIDC did not work with each of the businesses to see where it made sense for them to remain. Apparently the EDC figured out it didn’t make sense for the Boardwalk tenants to remain, but neglected to tell anyone except Zamperla. We called out Pinsky on this quote on ATZ and twitter when he had the nerve to tweet “Support your local small business” just as Paul’s Daughter was throwing their goodbye party. We invited him to the party, but of course no one from the City would show. City officials, both elected and appointed, refused to support or say a word to the press about the small local businesses booted off City-owned property in Coney Island. It will be interesting to see what if anything City officials will have to say about the new leases and future prospects for the Boardwalk Mom and Pops.

UPDATE March 8

Yes, all eight of the Coney Island 8 signed the agreement that will allow 7 of them–Shoot the Freak is out– to lease their Boardwalk locations for one final summer before they exit quietly. We tweeted our reaction this morning. What else is there to say? If you want more info on why the Mom & Pops are being forced out, read our posts on Sodexo.

AmusingZillion
In 2010 @NYCEDC got $100K rent from Ruby’s but only $11.25K from Sodexo 4 rent on City-owned property bought for $95.6M http://bit.ly/gNPci3

AmusingZillion
Happy we’ll be able to drink @ Ruby’s, eat @ Paul’s Daughter this season. But deal nothing to celebrate. #ConeyIsland small biz on way out

UPDATE March 6

Tomorrow, March 7th, the Coney Island 8 and Zamperla are due back in court over the Boardwalk evictions. A one-year lease deal ihas been in the works for weeks. Will they all sign?

UPDATE February 15, 7:07 pm

New York Mag’s Grub Street just talked with Coney Island Island 8 attorney Marc Aronson who says: “We’re working on something that’ll be an amicable resolution for all the parties and something that’ll be really just for both sides, and we’re really close.” He says he expects tomorrow’s court date to be postponed for a weeks, “at which point we’ll finalize the details of the stipulation or agreement.”

Grill House, Coney Island Boardwalk. Last day of season, Oct 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Grill House, Coney Island Boardwalk. Last day of season, Oct 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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January 20, 2011: Sodexo Investing $2.4M in Zamperla’s Coney Island

November 23, 2010: Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions”

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

April 14, 2010: Photo Album: Heroic 24/7 Race to Build Coney Island’s New Luna Park

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Under construction

Under Construction: Sodexo Restaurant on Surf at 10th St, Coney Island. December 23, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

The French multinational Sodexo is investing $2.4 million in Zamperla’s Coney Island and has an exclusive contract to manage the food and facilities for the City’s amusement operator, sources told ATZ.

Sodexo has been Zamperla’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions” since Luna Park opened last May, though the partnership was not announced by the City and was known only within Coney Island until ATZ first reported it in November.

This season, Sodexo will operate food and beverage kiosks in the new Scream Zone in addition to Luna Park. The corporation, which is the 22nd largest in the world, also plans to open up their own restaurants at Paul’s Daughter’s Boardwalk location and the former Gregory & Paul’s on Surf Avenue across from the Cyclone. As previously reported last month, the Surf Ave restaurant is currently under construction.

Luna Park

Rendering of Luna Park's Main Gate Shows Luna Park Cafe on the Left Side

ATZ obtained a copy of Zamperla/CAI’s proposal to the City which describes the Surf Avenue restaurant. The decor sounds a bit like Ruby’s and the Coney Island History Project: “The Luna Park Café pays tribute to the long history of Coney Island with memorabilia and tributes from local residents and visitors from around the world. This unique environment provides the backdrop for quick service prepared-to-order meals. The menu will be designed to provide a more balanced meal option for visitors looking for a complete meal and will be a venue where ‘healthier’ alternatives can be found. Potentially a year round venue, the Luna Park Café will also serve as the primary point of food service for all team members where an employee discount will be available.”

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The proposal goes on to say that more extreme foods will be featured inside Scream Zone. “With thrill rides comes thrilling food and beverages which will use elements of spice, exotic-flavors, irregular sizes, and ‘u-decide’ the ingredient items where guests can challenge their imaginations. A kiosk-type portable network, as previously described, will be looked upon to enter this phase of the operation. A heavy emphasis will be placed on the design of each location to assimilate into easy accessibility from each attraction. This service plan provides the flexibility needed to keep Scream Zone evolving. A final count of locations has not been determined at this time but a similar strategy as used for Luna Park Phase I will be applied.”

Scream Zone

Banner for future Scream Zone. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In regard to the Boardwalk concessions in 2011, Zamperla’s proposal says they “will be combined and integrated into the food and beverage operations of Luna Park and Scream Zone. This is an important step in the presentation of Luna Park and Scream Zone from their beach points of entry. Structures would be improved and remodeled to mesh with the aesthetics of the respective parks. To be successful within the food and beverage part of the operation, this plan will constantly be reviewed and modifications made annually. New product development will always be looked upon, as well as the demands of the guests as ways to improve.”

Sodexo is known for its cafeterias and individually branded restaurants, but nationally branded subtenants are also brought in under franchising or licensing agreements for the appearance of variety. Whether the Sodexo client is a college, school, hospital, government, corporation or leisure destination, one constant is Sodexo’s completely centralized purchasing system, which requires clients to choose from a list of “Right Products.” Another term used internally by Sodexo is “Compliant.” Vendors who offer rebates are “compliant” while those that do not are “locked out,” according to investigative reporter Lucy Komisar in “Cafeteria Kickbacks: How food-service providers like Sodexo bilk millions from taxpayers and customers.” Last July, Attorney General Cuomo announced “a $20 million settlement with food services provider Sodexo for overcharging 21 New York school districts as well as the SUNY system.”

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

With just 88 days till the opening of Coney Island for the season on Palm Sunday –April 17, 2011– Zamperla’s Central Amusement International is locked in an ugly eviction battle with the Coney Island 8. The veteran Mom & Pops, including Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, which have been Boardwalk favorites for decades, hope to remain. The Coney Island 8’s website claims, “Inside information suggests that Sodexo did not want to deal with The Coney Island 8 and therefore would not accept the contract with Zamperla without full control over all the food establishments.”

Sources familiar with Zamperla’s situation don’t expect the amusement operator to agree to any settlement that would allow the Coney Island 8 to remain on the Boardwalk since plans to make over the Boardwalk are well underway. Zamperla and Sodexo are said to be bringing in new businesses which have submitted letters of intent and now have leases in hand. Some of the newcomers have already gone in and measured the spaces or received the architect’s plans. Insiders characterize the Boardwalk makeover as a done deal. The next court date is February 16, just 60 days before Coney Island’s opening day. But it’s possible a settlement will be reached before then. A settlement would at least compensate the Coney Island 8 for the costs of those very unnecessary “business plans” and help them relocate in Coney or elsewhere.

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 31, 2013: Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out

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

March 3, 2011: The Lowdown on Sodexo’s Sweet Deal in Coney Island

November 23, 2010: Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions”

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Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk

Coney Island Boardwalk at Dusk. November 13, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ learned that the result of this morning’s Coney Island 8 eviction hearing was another postponement. The case has been postponed till February 16 at the request of Zamperla’s attorneys, who need more time to prepare. At the December 10th hearing, it was the Coney Island 8’s attorney who needed more time to prepare and requested the postponement. It means they need more time to study and respond to the papers served by the other side, so don’t expect to see what today’s NY Post calls a “surf turf war” ending anytime soon.

PS: Did we mention that we have a terrible cold and do not really feel like doing anything except napping? Please send over some homemade chicken soup!

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November 4, 2010: Exclusive: Surrender the Premises Letter Sent to Coney Island Boardwalk Veterans

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

September 17, 2010: On Coney Island Boardwalk, Ruby’s & Cha Cha’s Rock This Fall

April 23, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk Businesses Open for 2010

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ATZ obtained a copy of the cruel kiss-off letter sent by the City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to the Coney Island Boardwalk businesses on October 25th. The City’s lease with the businesses was set to expire just a few days later on the 31st. “Please be advised that effective as of the date of this letter, the NYCEDC (“Licensor”) has assigned its interest as Licensor under your license for the premises to Central Amusement International.”

It appears to be a slick legal maneuver by the City to abdicate responsibility for the November 1st eviction of these Mom and Pops from City-owned property by CAI, which the City certainly must have known about in advance. CAI’s Luna Park is a public-private partnership and everything of importance is done in consultation with the City. The letter is signed by John Cicerello, Executive Vice President of EDC’s Assets Management, which “manages, maintains and leases over 20 million square feet of City property assets with the goal of maximizing return on assets.”

The kiss-off letter begins “Dear Sir or Madam”– the same salutation as CAI’s October 29th surrender the premises letter— which ATZ previously posted. We have to wonder if both letters were drafted by the NYCEDC attorneys or is this type of letter always so generic and coldly impersonal?

The letter states that as of the date of this letter “any and all matters regarding your License and the Premises should be addressed with Central Amusement International.” Any license fees and charges. Any notices, inquiries, requests. Any anything. In other words, the City’s done with you, Sir or Madam. Don’t call us, blame us, bother us, ask us for support.

After the Boardwalk businesses received the eviction letters on November 1st, City officials–both elected and appointed–tried to distance themselves by referring all questions to the amusement operator. Officials told the business owners it was Zamperla’s decision and there was nothing they could do. The businesses, which had been expecting responses to their business plans, were shocked and dismayed to receive eviction notices instead.

In advance of an eviction hearing scheduled for January 10, both sides are expected to get together for talks today. Will there be an out of court settlement? At a previous hearing on December 10, NYCEDC attorneys and a representative of the asset management department were present along with Valerio Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla USA and Central Amusement International.

Paul's Daughter

Last Day at Paul's Daughter. Coney Island Boardwalk. November 13, 2010. © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Coney Island Eight’s new website asks “Who is behind the eviction of the Coney Island 8”? Their answer is that the City made the decision as to who was going to be on the boardwalk long before any proposals were submitted.

It has been reported that Central Amusements was responsible for the ousting of the Coney Island Boardwalk Businesses. This is not true. The City of New York under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg are the primary developers of Coney Island. This became evident in meetings with Central Amusements when their top Management explained to the Boardwalk vendors that Mayor Bloomberg met with them and told them that he wanted the Boardwalk to have a fresh look. It was two days before the renewal of leases the owners of the land turned all the leases over to Central Amusements to give the impression that Central Amusements made this decision.

Save ruby's

Save Ruby's 'Axis of Evil' Protest Sign. January 1, 2011. Photo © Rubyshost via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

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

November 10, 2010: This Week in Coney Island: Party at Paul’s Daughter, Hypocrisy at NYCEDC

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

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DOB

Screenshot of DOB webpage on Dec 30, 2010

Has Shoot the Freak won the latest skirmish in the Battle of the Boardwalk? Last week, Zamperla began constructing the entrance to Scream Zone after razing and boarding up Shoot the Freak without warning. The paintball game’s owner Anthony Berlingieri vowed to take the matter to court and have further construction stopped.

ATZ has learned that on Thursday the City’s Department of Buildings issued a stop work order at the Boardwalk property leased by Zamperla from the City’s Economic Development Corporation. The address is 1213-1223 Boardwalk West, between 12th and 15th Streets.

“This property has 1 open DOB ‘Work Without A Permit’ Violations and may be subject to DOB civil penalties upon application for a permit.

Received: 12/30/2010 10:18 Block: 8695 Lot: 104 Community Board: 313
Owner: NEW YORK CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOP

Last Inspection: 12/30/2010 – – BY BADGE # 2369
Disposition: 12/30/2010 – L1 – PARTIAL STOP WORK ORDER
Comments: DEMOLITION WITHOUT A PERMIT. STOP ALL DEMOLITION WORK, PAY CIVIL PENALTY, OBTAIN PERMIT
DOB Violation #: 123010BS13GI01
ECB Violation #s: 34875289N

Along with Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, Shoot the Freak is among the eight small businesses being evicted from the Boardwalk by CAI/Zamperla. The Coney Island 8′s court date for the eviction proceeding is scheduled for January 10. The property is owned by the City’s Economic Development Corporation and leased to CAI/Zamperla, which is allowing only 2 of 11 existing businesses to remain.

UPDATE… 9 am

This morning’s NY Post and Daily News report that the City fine for the violation is a whopping $5000! A DOB spokeswoman told the Post that the case is under investigation.

Formerly know as Shoot the Freak

The new boardwalk entrance to Scream Zone (Formerly know as Shoot the Freak). Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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