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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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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