Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island’

Mama Burger Paul's Daughter

Wet paint! Mama and Papa Burger on the roof of Paul’s Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk

Happy news for Memorial Day Weekend! Mama Burger is back on her feet and has been reunited with Papa Burger on the roof of Coney Boardwalk eatery Paul’s Daughter! The lovingly restored and freshly painted figures were seen in close proximity the other day ahead of being returned to their regular spots at either end of the rooftop.

While Papa Burger, an A & W Root Beer figure from the 1960s, has steadily anchored the western side of the building’s roof, Mama Burger had been flat on her back since Superstorm Sandy. The eight-foot-tall fiberglass figure got knocked over — at first she was thought to be missing— and her hamburger and beer mug blew away.

What else is new this season at Paul’s Daughter? The popular clam bar now serves oysters as well and has a roomy new outdoor seating area. The best lobster roll in Coney Island – delectable chunks of Maine lobster packed into a toasted bun – is being served again starting this weekend. Since the Mama Burger figure never got her lost burger back, maybe she should hold a lobster roll instead?

Paul’s Daughter is Tina Georgoulakos, whose father Paul aka “The Chief” co-founded the restaurant formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s in 1962 and still supervises its clam bar. The renovated building was originally one of hot dog inventor Charles Feltman’s restaurants and remains a masterpiece of vernacular signage.

Here’s Coney historian Charles Denson lunching on a lobster roll at Paul’s Daughter…

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805 Surf Avenue

Vacant lot at 805-825 Surf Avenue, on the north side of Surf across from the Cyclone in Coney Island, May 5, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion.com

PYE Properties, the owners of the Surf Avenue lot across the street from the Coney Island Cyclone, have started advertising for vendors for a flea market set to open in May. Like some of the furniture stores and a cafe on the north side of Surf, it’s named after one of Coney’s amusement parks — Luna Park Flea Market. According to their new website, the price for a spot on Friday, Saturday or Sunday is $50, while other days of the week will go for $30.

A kiddie ride park, a go kart track and a flea market housed in shipping containers have occupied the lot in the past. In 2001, the Giuliani administration repeatedly ticketed and finally got rid of the flea market that had operated there since the 1980s. The headline in the Daily News read “CONEY SMALL BIZ BLITZ STORM OF TICKETS TIED TO DEBUT OF CYCLONES.”

Over the past decade, the vacant lot, which has 140 feet of frontage on Surf and is 90 feet deep, has occasionally been used as a parking lot. For one day in 2011, the lot briefly hosted John Strong’s sideshow until the previous property owners abruptly did an about-face and went back to parking cars.

Bumper cars and other amusements were in the building on the site which was torn down in the 1950s. Until the early ’80s the north side of Surf Avenue was home to individually-owned penny arcades and a variety of rides including carousels and even a Jumbo Jet-style coaster.

Last year, the Surf Avenue lot at 805-825 Surf Avenue was Brighton Beach-based PYE Properties’ first acquisition in Coney Island. In January, PYE purchased the landmark Shore Theater for $14 million. According to the development company’s website, “PYE Properties is a full-service development company guided by our in-house team of result-driven real estate professionals whose expertise includes acquisition, design, development, construction and property management.” The flea market is a seasonal use for the short term until development gets underway.

Since the 2009 rezoning of Coney Island, the north side of Surf has seen restaurants such as Grimaldi’s, Applebee’s, and Subway Cafe rapidly replacing furniture stores and vacant lots. Johnny Rockets and IHOP franchises are under construction. Mom & Pops on the north side include Chill party space, Red Doors Bar & Grill, and Piece of Velvet Cupcakes.

The flea market did not open on July 4th Weekend and remains closed.

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Feed the Clown Game Coney Island

Feed the Clown Game, West 12th Street in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Skin the Wire, Feed the Clown, Roll-A-Coaster! Game of skill operators are needed for the 2016 season at these independent games on West 12th Street off the Coney Island Boardwalk. As a former carny kid who grew up working games on the midway, ATZ highly recommends this unique and formative job experience. And next time they call you in to play the games at San Gennaro or the state fair, you’ll be a full-fledged carny and can reply “I’m with it!”

–Games require manual dexterity
–Proficiency in addition. One game requires adding numbers
–Personable, outgoing and good with people
–Ability to describe and explain the games and merchandise to customers

The games open March 20 March 25 and are open weekends and school holidays in the spring and fall, as well as some evenings in May. The daily schedule kicks in Memorial Day Weekend and runs through Labor Day Weekend. Hours and scheduling are flexible. The rate of pay starts at $10 per hour and goes up as the operator masters each of the three games.

Apply in person or leave a reply below and ATZ will forward it to the game’s owner.

Games on W 12th St, Coney Island

skin the wire and Feed the Clown Games on West 12th Street, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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Save your quarters, it’s only 7 weeks till Miss Coney Island’s first dance of the 2016 season. The Coney Island amusement area’s traditional Palm Sunday opener is early this year — March 20 — and it’s still costs only 25 cents a a dance. Miss Coney’s twin mottoes are “25¢ to Fall in Love” and “Don’t Postpone Joy.” The doll and her dancing cats are located on West 12th Street below the Wonder Wheel and next door to the Coney Island History Project.

Related posts on ATZ…

October 4, 2015: Video: Coney Island Dancing 2015 by Jim McDonnell

April 6, 2014: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island’s Dancing Cat

September 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Last Dance With Miss Coney Island

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

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water race game

Water race game on Coney Island’s Bowery is one of the tenants in the buildings recently sold by Jeff Persily. Photo © Tricia Vita

What does it feel like to leave Coney Island after more than 60 years? ATZ asked Jeff Persily, who grew up working his family’s games on the Bowery and recently closed the sale of three lots–1105, 1205 and 1207 Bowery– to Thor Equities.

ATZ broke the news of the real estate deal in November, amid speculation that the Bowery buildings are destined for a date with the wrecking ball, as one of Thor’s long vacant lots on West 12th Street was rezoned by the Bloomberg administration for a 30-story hotel. Long owned by the Persily family, the properties stretch from West 12th Street to Jones Walk and are home to a dozen game, novelty and food concessionaires.

With the acquisition of 1105 Bowery, Sitt now owns the entire block bounded by Surf Avenue and the Bowery with the exception of one privately held lot on Jones Walk.

1205 Bowery Coney Island

Water Race Game and Gyro Corner are among the tenants at 1205-1207 Bowery, which Persily sold to Thor Equities along with the lot on the east side of West 12th Street. November 1, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Back in 2007, when Jeff Persily was asked by the NY Times if he would sell to Sitt, he said, “At the end of the day, combining all the properties and building amusements, hotels and residential would be a wonderful thing for New York. We’re talking about creating not hundreds of jobs but many thousands of jobs. I love Coney Island. I’d love to see it become what it once was when I was a kid.”

Persily’s late father Sid was the oldest of five children and supported his whole family through working at Coney, he says. “He was able to put himself through college and was a teacher (summers off), but still worked the games.” Sid’s siblings included Phil aka “Fishie,” a Coney concessionaire since 1929. The Persilys introduced the first water race game to Coney Island in 1960 and once owned the bumper cars where Woody Allen would film the famous scene in Annie Hall (1977), says his son. The Persilys are among the very last families owning property in Coney Island to sell to Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities.

Annie Hall Bumper Car Scene

The Bumper Car Scene in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Photo via ScoutingNY.com

“I started working in my father’s concessions before I was ten,” Persily said in an exclusive interview with ATZ. “In 1960 the first Water Race game was brought to Coney Island and was off the corner of Surf and West 15th st. I was 10 then and liked the idea that there was an actual winner every game, as opposed to the regular games at the time – Bushel Basket, Balloon, Cat Rack, etc.- which was always prone to people losing more money than they wanted.”

“We brought in the same Water Game, manufactured by Quinn who was the original and exclusive manufacturer at the time, and brought it to the Bowery between West 12th and Stillwell where it stayed until the late ’60s when a newer Balloon game was able to get around Quinn’s patent, and we had to update to it because everyone else in Coney was getting water games that were nicer than ours, and we had to compete.”

water race patent

Harold E. Quinn’s 1954 Patent for Water Gun Game which Phil Persily debuted to Coney Island

“I will never forget the great times I had there. Competing with our neighbors for customers on the Bowery till 5:00 A.M. and then reopening at noon the next day. We owned the Cavalcade Bumping Cars on Surf Ave. till we sold it to the Handwerker family in the early seventies. I hated working that ride, the dust from the metal floor used to get into our lungs and we always sneezed black. On my wife’s 18th Birthday at 12:01 a.m. we were working the bumper cars, and one of our fondest memories is of us giving everyone a free ride in her honor.”

Asked the location of the bumper cars, Persily says: “In the 60’s there were two Bumping Car rides on Surf Avenue. One was next to Nathan’s that Nathan’s youngest brother Harry Handwerker ran, and the other was between West 12th St and Jones Walk, which was the Cavalcade. There is a famous Woody Allen movie that was filmed on our ride.”

The film is of course Annie Hall, in which Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) famously says “You know, I have a hyperactive imagination. My mind tends to jump around a little, and have some trouble between fantasy and reality,” just before a shot of people in bumper cars happily bumping into each other. Alvy’s father, who ran the bumper car concession, stands in the center of the track directing traffic as Alvy’s voice says “There-there he is and there I am. But I-I-I used to get my aggression out through those cars all the time.”

Says Persily: “Coney Island will always be a part of me. I think I missed a lot, having to spend my youth there every day from April through September, but I also think I learned a lot. My years spent there were happy ones with no regrets. I wish all of the remaining, and all of the New families that are working there, Health, Happiness, and 100 days of sunshine!”

Related posts on ATZ…

November 9, 2015: Thor Equities Buying 3 Lots on Coney Island’s Bowery, Mom & Pops Await Rent Increase Amid Rumors of Hotel

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

August 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Raw Footage of 1960s Coney Island

March 26, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

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Rcihard Eagan Photo by Hazel Hankin

Richard Eagan, the outside talker for a shark show in Coney Island, 1987. Photo © Hazel Hankin

“You’re going to meet Miss Atlantis, the daring young lady who will defy the devil and swim with three killer sharks,” says Brooklyn artist and performer Richard Eagan, recalling his spiel as an outside talker for the Florida Shark Show. His 1987 gig managing the Coney Island attraction is among the midway experiences that he relives in “Alive on the Inside,” on Thursday, January 28th at City Lore.

Eagan has performed the one-man theater piece since the late ’80s at venues from the Lower East Side to Coney Island, where it was last seen in 2007 as part of the Coney Island History Project’s folklore program. “Most of what I talk about is gone, so it is a memory piece,” Eagan tells ATZ. “When I was developing and performing it in earlier days, it was the last days of the old Coney Island hanging on by a thread. The characters were still there plying their trade. There’s so few of them left.”

Among the characters Eagan brings to life in the show are Buddy Cook, who is actually Norman Kaufman, owner of the Jumbo Jet coaster, whose Stillwell Avenue amusement park was evicted by Thor Equities in 2006 to make way for “redevelopment.” “I refer to him as ‘The Buddha of the ticketbox,'” says Eagan. Ronnie D is Ronnie Guerrero, the late owner of 12th Street’s famed Polar Express, which was located on Stillwell Avenue in the 1980s. Jake Fein is concessionaire Jack Merr, who operated a basketball game across from the Spookhouse.

Eagan co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society with fellow artist Philomena Marano in 1981 because they were “hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. One of their projects was the transformation of the disused Dragon’s Cave ride on the Bowery into the Spookhouse, which they operated until 1984. Their visual art is on view in the exhibit “Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” at City Lore Gallery through March 13.

“Alive on the Inside,” January 28th, 7:00pm. Tickets are $11.49 via Eventbrite. City Lore, 56 E 1st St, New York, New York 10003. 212-529-1955

Related posts on ATZ...

January 18, 2016: Art of the Day: Coney Island at Valentine Museum of Art

November 16, 2015: Art of the Day: Remembering Spookhouse – A Ride Through Gallery in the Dark

April 21, 2011: Remembering Coney Island’s Jumbo Jet Coaster 1972-2002

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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Snowy View from Jones Walk

Snowy view from Jones Walk of Luna Park pinwheels and Deno’s Wonder Wheel. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

For the first snow of past winters, ATZ has posted Bruce Handy’s exquisite photos of snow mermaids and the pattern of snow on the slats of the wooden boardwalk. Saturday’s snow was a blizzard of 26.8 inches, making it the city’s second largest snowstorm since 1869. It’s no wonder this year’s photos are less contemplative and more action-oriented.

Coney Island Polar Bear in the snow

Coney Island Polar Bear saoking up some snow on the beach. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

After weeks of balmy weather, several members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club gathered for a frolic on the snowy beach and a blizzard dip amid crashing waves and gusty winds.

Coney Island Polar Bears Blizzard Swim

Coney Island Polar Bears Blizzard Swim. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Want to go for a day after the blizzard swim with the Polar Bears on Sunday? You’re welcome to join as a guest. Just show up at the Bears’ “Clubhouse” at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing.

Coney Island Beach Blizzard 2016

Photographer atop berm built by the Parks Department. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Prior to the blizzard, the Parks Department built temporary berms on the beach to protect against possible coastal flooding. On Saturday afternoon, when Mayor De Blasio visited Coney Island with other elected officials, he climbed the berm to check out the waves. All was well, but he was surprised to see a jogger on the beach. A few hours earlier the Mayor might have seen a woman pushing a baby stroller along the shore. With no snow tires, it was easier for her to push the carriage in the sand than in the snow. “It was the clearest path,” says the photographer, who resides in Coney Island. “It was a Fellini moment to end the day.”

Blizzard 2016

Pushing a Baby Carriage on Coney Island Beach during Blizzard 2016. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Oh, and you couldn’t even get a hot dog in Coney Island on Saturday. The century-old Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue, which is open daily year-round, was closed due to the snow. The 24-hour Dunkin Donuts in Stillwell Terminal was among the very few businesses that remained open during the storm

storm-shuttered Nathan's

View of Surf Avenue and a storm-shuttered Nathan’s from Stillwell Terminal. January 23, 2016. Photo © Bruce Handy

Related posts on ATZ...

January 9, 2015: Photo of the Day: Snowy Night in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

January 26, 2013: Winter’s First Snow in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

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