Posts Tagged ‘Countdown to Corporatization’


Butterflies and Beer Island. October 8, 2011. Copyright © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy snapped these photos of Beer Island and the adjacent vest-pocket garden on Saturday. “The garden on Stillwell is a butterfly garden,” he wrote in an email. The Monarchs that greeted us on 12th Street earlier in the week, en route to Florida via Coney Island, touched down in even greater number this weekend.

Butterflies are a potent symbol of change and transformation. The Boardwalk side of Stillwell Avenue, purchased by the City from Thor Equities in 2009, is undergoing a transformation too. In 2011, the parcel on the east side was developed into the new Scream Zone thrill park by Zamperla’s Central Amusement International. CAI is slated to take over the west side, currently occupied by Steve’s Grill’s House, Beer Island and a vacant lot, in 2012. What will they build? There’s been talk of double-deck go-karts or a double looping coaster. And oh, yeah, a beer garden very similar to the one that’s there now.

The key to Beer Island’s success is serving a wide variety of beer in bottles and on tap–all for $5—on a sandy beach just a few steps from Coney’s shore. Blaring music, bikini-clad waitresses, and the fact that you can bring in food from any of the Boardwalk restaurants add to the party ambiance. As one Yelper explains:

I have seen some strange shit at Beer Island. One time some guy rolled up with a bunch of exotic animals: iguanas, parrots, pythons–all at the same time. He sat down at a table, scattered his animal kingdom cohorts about, ordered a beer and proceeded to let old ladies feed his massive iguana (what looked like) strawberries.

But mostly it’s just occupied by a diverse mix of people who share the common goal of getting shit-housed in the Coney Island sun while belting a bunch of Def Leppard in the process. The music is usually amped up pretty loud, and it’s controlled by a jukebox that has the kind of music you want while getting drunk at Coney Island.

Beer Island is a newcomer to the Boardwalk compared to its fellow evictees. The bar got its start in 2007 after Thor Equities bought the property and evicted Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City. The beach bar was built on the site of the miniature golf course seen in these photos of the park. Its creator was Shoot the Freak’s Anthony Berlingieri, who told the New York Post last year: “They’re going to steal my idea, after I put a lot of time and money and built it up over the past three years.”

In the meantime, stop by for butterflies and beer, weather permitting. You can view Bruce Handy’s complete slide show here. Through November 4th, ATZ is posting a favorite photo (or two) a day to say goodbye to the Boardwalk Mom and Pops who are losing their leases at the end of the month. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the posts.

Beer Island

Beer Island. October 8, 2011. Copyright © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary


Related posts on ATZ…

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

October 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar by Kenny Lombardi

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

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


Related posts on ATZ…

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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Rubys Old Tyme Bar and Grill. November 20, 2010. Copyright © Kenny Lombardi 2010. All Rights Reserved

Ruby’s Bar was closed on Saturday for Yom Kippur, but they’re open today and every day at 11 am till the end of October. Last fall, there were a slew of “last call” parties at Ruby’s, but sadly this year’s goodbye party on October 29th really is goodbye. The fact that Ruby’s merited a Critics’ Picks in New York Magazine and was voted one of the World’s 21 Sexiest Beach Bars by the Travel Channel means nothing to people bent on gentrifying and corporatizing the Boardwalk. As we wrote yesterday, the one-year reprieve is over for the Boardwalk Mom-and-Pops who were first served “surrender the premises” notices by Zamperla’s Central Amusement International last November.

Seven businesses–Ruby’s Bar, Paul’s Daughter, Cha Cha’s, Gyro Corner, Steve’s Grill House, Beer Island and the Suh family’s Coney Island Souvenir Shop– must vacate their City-owned storefronts by November 4, 2011 as per the terms of the one-year lease extension.

ATZ is saying goodbye to old friends with a favorite photo a day from October 8 through November 4. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to find all of the photos. Thanks to Kenny Lombardi–KeneL9999 on flickr– who frequently photographs Coney Island and its denizens, for this timeless photo of Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar and Grill.

UPDATE October 27, 2011, 11:40 am

Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” was changed to Sunday, October 30, due to weather forecast for Saturday. Same time–11am till ??–same place. Check Ruby’s Facebook page for updates.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

September 26, 2011: 85th Birthday Party for Beloved Bartender at Ruby’s Bar

January 7, 2011: Photo of the Day: Greetings from Ruby’s Snow Mountain Resort!

November 3, 2010: Friends of Ruby’s Bar Launch Petition, Plan Nov 6 Rally

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