Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island 8’


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


Related posts on ATZ…

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!!!


Related posts on ATZ…

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.

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

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


Related posts on ATZ…

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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