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Posts Tagged ‘Gregory & Paul’s’

Steve Bitetzakis

Steve Bitetzakis in front of his restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk. November 6, 2010. Photo © Jim Kiernan via jamienyc/flickr

Coney Island lost one of its own last night. Steve Bitetzakis, 54, the owner of Steve’s Grill House located on the Coney Island Boardwalk from 1993 until 2011, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Decorative flags, flowerpots, hand-painted signage and ample seating gave Steve’s Grill House a homey ambiance. Friends remembered him as a nice guy who knew all of his customers and would help out people who were hungry. “He’d say, you can pay me when you have the money, but I’m sure they never did,” said retired arcade operator Stanley Fox. “But he was that kind of guy.”

Door of the Grill House. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Handpainted Sign on Door of the Grill House. August 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

The restaurateur was the last hold out of the “Coney Island 8” evicted from the Boardwalk by Zamperla. In February 2012, he called off plans to have his modular building moved down Stillwell and instead took a buyout. Steve invested in a state-of-the-art concession trailer which opened for Easter of last year on Thor Equities’ Stillwell Avenue lot leased to the BK Festival.

Unfortunately, he lost his location to Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis and had to move to another lot leased by the festival where he was not able to open for business. The BK Festival’s plan for satellite locations on Surf Avenue called for opening the fencing during business hours but it turned out that city regulations did not permit it. Steve’s shuttered trailer remained parked on the Surf Avenue lot until a few weeks ago when all of the vehicles on the lot were towed away to a City pound.

Steve's Grill House

Steve's New Grill House concession trailer at the BK Festival on Stillwell Avenue. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

It was sad to see Steve’s Grill House leave Coney Island since we knew he was ill and his restaurant was not likely to be coming back. There was no spot for him to lease in the new Coney Island, even though there are still empty lots.

Steve’s family has a long history of operating food concessions in Coney Island. His father Gregory Bitetzakis was the co-owner of Gregory & Paul’s, which opened more than 50 years ago. After Gregory retired in 2009, the restaurant changed its name to Paul’s Daughter. Steve first got sand in his shoes working for his father in the G & P’s on West 10th Street opposite the Cyclone. “He wanted to be in Coney Island more than anything,” said an old friend.

A wake will be held at the Dahill Funeral Home, 2525 65th Street, Brooklyn, on Tuesday, May 21st from 5 until 9 pm.

Grill House coney Island Boardwalk

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

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October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

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Hey! Get It, Get It! at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

“Hey! Get it Get it!” is back at Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island. Snappy new signage with the familiar lettering and motto is hawking their delicious clams and calamari. What’s more, the Georgoulakos family’s recently renovated eatery on the Boardwalk — established as Gregory and Paul’s in 1962 — celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

“We have been so busy playing catch up that we haven’t celebrated,” Tina Georgoulakos told ATZ, adding that right now they are concentrating on getting the Paul’s Daughter sign installed on the upper part of the facade. “It’s a funny coincidence that I have been Paul’s daughter for fifty years and he opened his first store on the Boardwalk and West 8th fifty years ago. Hopefully in August when things slow down a little, we will celebrate.” ATZ recommends that you go directly to Paul’s Daughter for a plate of clams and a beer and be among the first to wish them a Happy Anniversary!

Paul Georgoulakos

Paul Georgoulakos, 83, the Boardwalk’s Oldest Operator. June 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The timeline on Paul’s Daughter’s Facebook Page begins six decades ago in 1951, when 21-year-old Paul Georgoulakos started his first Coney Island business—a milk stand at Stillwell Terminal—with a $500 loan from his aunt. A store on West 12th Street and the Bowery soon followed. Gregory & Paul’s got started in 1962, when Paul partnered with Gregory Bitetzakis and took over the old Howard Johnson’s on West 8th Street and the Boardwalk. The partners survived their first eviction in 1968: “Rockefeller buys the property their store is on and donates it to the Aquarium, putting them (and seven other stores) out of business,” notes the timeline.

Paul's Daughter Coney Island

Clams on the Half-shell at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The current location on the Boardwalk at West 10th Street opened in 1970 and was leased from Astroland Park. The famed Astroland Rocket was perched on the roof of the store until the park closed in 2008. When Gregory, who operated the G & P’s on West 10th Street opposite the Cyclone retired in 2009, Paul’s Boardwalk store remained open, leasing from new landlord Thor Equities and changing its name to Paul’s Daughter.

Last year, it looked like the veteran Mom-and-Pop would close forever just short of its 50th anniversary when Paul’s was evicted along with seven others. Zamperla, which opened Luna Park, had assumed management of the Boardwalk property now owned by the City and planned a glitzy redo by French food giant Sodexo and a Miami Beach restaurateur. In a surprising about-face, the amusement operator later offered eight-year leases to two of the businesses–Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar– with the stipulation that they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in gut rehabs of their stores.

Paul's Daughter Coney Island

The New Bar at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. June 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

How does the new Paul’s Daughter look? As we wrote in May, our first impression was that both Paul’s and Ruby’s stores looked refreshed and ready to compete for customers in the new Coney Island while paying tribute to the spirit of the past and continuing to embody the personalities of their owners. Check out our flickr slide show of the New Paul’s Daughter, but keep in mind the photos document a work-in-progress and some of the changes that you will notice this summer were required by the landlord or city regulations.

When Paul’s Daughter officially reopened on the weekend before Memorial Day 2012, we were happy to see the beloved signs for “Mr. Shrimp” and “Chiefito and Chiefita — the Nice N Sweet/Fluffy Cotton Candy Kids” and “Clams” returned to the new facade. The A & W Mama and Papa Burger remain on the roof and the vintage signs were restored and brought back to the lower facade. Additional signage was needed due to building renovations and adjustments to the menu.

Paul's Daughter

Vintage Signs at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 14, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The building’s square corners were rounded to resemble the way it looked when it was built shortly after the Boardwalk was moved in 1939. A photo on the Coney Island History Project website shows “the new fireproof, streamlined, Art Moderne-style building that replaced the ornate wooden Feltman’s Boardwalk restaurant.”

The new signage was painted by Brooklyn artist and School of Visual Arts instructor Stephen Gaffney, whose work as a muralist is on view in City parks and schools. Having previously restored G & P’s hand-painted signs when the restaurant’s name was changed to Paul’s Daughter, Gaffney was able to recapture the spirit of the old signs in his new work.

Paul's Daughter, Coney Island

Papa Burger and New Signs at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Half of the storefront is now a stand-up bar made with wood salvaged from the roof joists of the former Club Atlantis/Cha Cha’s, which is undergoing a gut rehab by Tom’s Restaurant of Prospect Heights. Photos of Paul and his family and the stores that he operated over the past sixty years fill the wall behind the open-air bar and the interior of the pillars. In the photo below, the large poster shows Paul in 1954, leaning on the glass case at his store on West 12th Street and the Bowery, where Chinese egg rolls and hot knishes were a popular item. Soda was ten cents!

Stephen Gaffney

Artist Stephen Gaffney behind the counter at Paul’s Daughter. July 14, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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May 22, 2012: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!

May 19, 2012: Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar Reopen on Saturday, Restored Signs to Return!

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

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

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1959

1959: Paul's wife and daughter visit him on the Bowery. Photo © Tina Georgoulakos via Paul's Daughter Facebook

We’re thrilled to report that this afternoon, Tina Georgoulakos of Paul’s Daughter, formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, signed an 8-year lease for her family’s restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk. “I’m happy because the Burger statues wanted to stay where they belonged,” she told ATZ wryly. “Now they will get a new sign.”

In October, Papa Burger, a fiberglass figure on the restaurant’s roof, sported a sign that said “Looking for a New Beach.” The 49-year old Mom-and-Pop had been evicted along with seven others by Zamperla, which runs Luna Park. In a surprising about-face, the amusement operator invited two of the businesses–Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar–to stay and negotiations have been going on for weeks.

Both Papa and Mama Burger and a mix of new and old hand-painted signage as well as a neon sign are expected to be part of the new Paul’s Daughter when it reopens in April 2012. Tina’s father, 82-year-old Paul “The Chief” Georgoulakos, the oldest operator on the Coney Island Boardwalk, will be back too. It appears that our habit of taking photos of “The Last French Fry” as a good luck charm worked two years in a row!

UPDATE December 12, 2011…Zamperla’s Boardwalk line-up for 2012 is now set. As we noted in the comments, Ruby’s Bar signed an 8-year lease, as did another Boardwalk veteran, the Lola Star Boutique. Tom’s of Prospect Heights will open a second restaurant on the Coney Island Boardwalk, at the corner of Stillwell where Nathan’s and Cha Cha’s were located. See “Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk” (ATZ, November 15, 2011) for details and renderings of the new stores, including Nathan’s, Brooklyn Beach Shop, Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, as well as the new Sky Coaster and other rides.

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November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

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

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

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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Paul

Paul Georgoulakos, 82, the oldest operator on the Coney Island Boardwalk, in front of the now vacant Paul's Daughter. The store was founded as Gregory & Paul's

On Friday, Paul Georgoulakos and his help began the sad task of removing the hand-painted vernacular signage from Paul’s Daughter’s storefront, which he co-founded on the Coney Island Boardwalk in 1962 as Gregory & Paul’s. It was heartbreaking to see the cavalcade of beloved characters and foods torn from their home on the Boardwalk: Mr Shrimp, Chiefito and Chiefita (the Nice N Sweet/Fluffy Cotton Candy Kids), Shish Kebab (“Made with Love”) and other enticements. Some of the signage has been here since the restaurant’s earliest days and was meticulously restored a couple of years ago. The restaurant equipment was also cleaned, wrapped and carted off to storage.

signs

Signage being removed from Paul's Daughter. November 11, 2011. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

We have to warn you that the set of photos taken today by Bruce Handy is very distressing to look at. Paul’s Daughter as we know it no longer exists. If redevelopment is hell, we have probably entered the tenth circle of the inferno. In Bruce’s Coney Island Photo Diary slide show, you’ll witness the facade of the Boardwalk icon gradually stripped down to ghost signage. The burger statues on the roof, which we wrote about in “Photo of the Day: Coney Island Americana Looking for New Beach” (ATZ, October 13, 2011) are expected to come down this week. Will somebody please make a video? It will be a suitable companion piece to the video of the Astroland Rocket being removed from the roof.

A new version of the iconic restaurant may or may not return to this spot, depending on how lease negotiations go with Zamperla USA. We’ll get to that in a minute and hope the possibility consoles you a little. There’s a rendering, which was shown at the AIA forum the other night–if you must see it now, scroll down. But first we’d like to pay our respects to the original Gregory & Paul’s, which became Paul’s Daughter in 2008. Here’s a photo taken in 2005 by James and Karla Murray from their celebrated book STORE FRONT- The Disappearing Face of New York. Today another legendary New York City store front has disappeared thanks to redevelopment and gentrification.

from STORE FRONT

Gregory & Paul's with Astroland Rocket on the roof photographed in 2005 for the book STORE FRONT- The Disappearing Face of New York. Photo © James and Karla Murray

The beloved seaside restaurant and its signage were featured in the 1999 music video “Summer Girls,” in which the band LFO danced on the boardwalk as well as on the roof in front of the Astroland Rocket. Taken as a whole, Paul’s store is a sublime example of the midway maxim “It’s the front of the show that gets the dough!” It’s a lesson that their new neighbor Coney Cones, which has a store front that would look at ease in Manhattan or Miami, but doesn’t stand out in Coney Island, is apparently unfamiliar with. Savvy restaurateurs are not necessarily successful Boardwalk concessionaires.

In 2012, Paul’s storefront would have been fifty years old and eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. (Yes, there are examples of roadside architecture on the Register.) Now that will never happen. Instead Paul’s, Ruby’s and the other Boardwalk businesses are required to renovate and pay the high cost of the rehab–reportedly half a million to a million dollars–if they want to be part of the new Coney Island. Here’s our flickr slide show of photos of Paul’s Daughter that we’ve taken over the past few years.

The removal of the signage does not necessarily spell the end of Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island, since Zamperla recently did an about-face from last year’s evictions and offered eight-year leases to Boardwalk favorites Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar. Negotiations continue with the store owners and a decision is expected after Thanksgiving, perhaps sooner, ATZ has learned. A number of clauses in the leases, which we previously described as onerous, have caused the negotiations to be extended beyond the original November 14 deadline, according to the Coney Island Rumor Mill. “It could go either way,” is the phrase we keep hearing in reference to both Paul’s and Ruby’s.

The two Mom and Pops were offered leases after a Miami restaurateur pulled out of a $5 million dollar deal to redevelop the Boardwalk. According to the New York Post story by Rich Calder, Coney Cones co-owner Michele Merlo said business at his new store had been “very disappointing” because of the bad weather and told other Boardwalk vendors “they can’t make money off Zamperla’s existing lease offer.”

pauls

Will Paul's Daughter Be Back? Architectural rendering for the new Paul's Daughter shown at November 11 Coney Island Panel at AIA. Photo via Amusing the Zillion

At Friday night’s panel on the Future of the Coney Island Amusement Area at the AIA, we were surprised when Zamperla’s Valerio Ferrari showed slides of the business owners’ renderings for their proposed stores, despite the fact that leases have yet to be signed with some of them. We hope this is a sign that Zamperla is motivated to negotiate a fair lease deal with the Mom and Pop businesses. As we wrote last month:

Each of the Boardwalk Mom and Pops has been paying $100,000 per year rent, plus a $10,000 surcharge initiated this year to help keep the Boardwalk restrooms open later and for sanitation and fireworks. Believe it or not, $100,000 is also the base rent that CAI/Zamperla USA pays annually to the City. In addition, they also pay a small percentage of the gross receipts. For example, ten percent of gross receipts over $7 million. According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s lease with CAI (which ATZ obtained last year through the Freedom of Information Act), the City will receive 15% of the fixed rent paid by any subtenant. Zamperla gets to keep the other 85%. We think they have a pretty sweet deal with the City and should pass the sugar.

We were pleasantly surprised by the renderings for Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter. The Boardwalk will not after all be rethemed as an orange-and-blue advertisement for Luna Park as previous drawings have suggested. Paul’s Daughters’ rendering for their proposed store shows the spruced up Burger People on the roof and what appears to be new hand-painted signage along the bottom. Stay tuned for our report on the AIA panel and the renderings of the other Boardwalk businesses.

From Zamperla's Slide Show at AIA Panel: An early rendering of 'Phase III: Improving the Coney Island Boardwalk' shows Luna Park's themeing applied to Coney Cones and Paul's Daughter. Photo via Amusingthezillion.com

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November 21, 2010: Goodbye (Or Maybe Not?) to My Coney Island Equivalent of Proust’s Madeleine

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

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

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

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Papa Burger

Looking for a New Beach: Papa Burger Atop Paul' s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 8, 2011

Last week, a new sign was seen on the roof of Paul’s Daughter, a 49-year-old Coney Island Mom and Pop being booted off the City-owned Boardwalk at the end of the month. Papa Burger, a winsome fiberglass figure, is sporting a sign that says “Looking for a New Beach.”

“I am looking for a new location,” Tina Georgoulakos, the owner of Paul’s Daughter, told ATZ. “Our first preference is to stay on the Boardwalk in Coney Island, if we can’t have that, then we are looking for another beach.”

What are her plans for Mama and Papa Burger? The reason we ask is numerous people, including fans of roadside signage, have sent emails expressing concern about the fate of the figures, which have been part of the Coney Island skyline for decades. They wanted to make sure these rare pieces of roadside Americana were preserved. Last fall, when the businesses first received “Surrender the Premises” notices, among the people we heard from was Debra Jane Seltzer, a devotee of roadside architecture who has catalogued the whereabouts of the Burger figures known as the “A & W Root Beer Family” on her wonderful website RoadsideArchitecture.com.

“The A&W Burger Family may not be the biggest giants out there but they are arguably the cutest,” writes Seltzer on the “Land of Giants” section of her site. “In 1963, A&W introduced four choices of hamburgers and their corresponding Burger Family members: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Baby Burger, and Teen Burger.” When A & W introduced another mascot called “the Great Root Bear” in 1974, some stores began selling off the burger figures, which have ended up at places as various as Magic Forest in Lake George, New York, and the backyard of a private residence in Portland, Oregon. Others are in storage or have been greatly altered, according to Seltzer’s research.

Burger Girl

Burger Girl at Paul's Daughter, Coney Island. November 13, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

“I found the man that made them,” Tina says. “It took all day. His name is Steve Dashew.” There’s a touch of excitement in her voice. In an interview with Roadside America, the former president of International Fiberglass and creator of the Muffler Men and other figures said, “My favorite of all of them was a ‘burger family’: Mama Burger, Papa Burger, Baby Burger, a little larger than life-sized.” Tina contacted him to find out how much the Burger people weighed, so she’d know if a crane would be required to remove them from the roof. It turns out Papa Burger is 10 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and weighs 250 pounds. “I’m going to wrap them with ropes and lower them down,” Tina said. “I am taking every single thing with me. Anything that has meaning is coming with me.”

Another soon-to-vanish piece of Coney Island Americana is the vernacular signage of Paul’s Daughter, including Mister Shrimp and other favorites, which we will detail in another post. “I had considered an auction of certain things but I’m not sure what they are,” says Tina. “It will all depend on whether we move the business somewhere else and I don’t have the answer to that as of yet. If I can’t use them, then I will be auctioning them off.”

Formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, the beloved seaside restaurant and its signage is featured in the book “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York” (see photo here). It was also the scene of the 1999 music video “Summer Girls,” in which the band LFO danced on the roof in front of the Astroland Rocket.  “It was a sad day when the Rocket left,” says Tina. “The Burger statues really miss it. We do too!” Why doesn’t the City keep Paul’s Daughter, the Burger Family and return the Rocket to its rightful place on the roof?

The restaurant is being evicted from the Boardwalk property to make way for a gentrified, corporatized Coney Island. The City-owned property is expected to be taken over by a concession run by France’s Sodexo, the world’s 21st largest corporation. Sodexo was chosen by the Italian company that runs Luna Park to be their partner for “On-Site Service Solutions.”

Through November 4th, ATZ is posting a favorite photo (or two) a day to say goodbye to the Boardwalk Mom and Pops who must “Surrender the Premises” at the end of the month. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the posts.

astroland Rocket

Papa Burger and Astroland Rocket Above Gregory & Paul's. February 10, 2008. Photo Copyright © Diane Taft Shumate/Rubyshost via flickr. All Rights Reserved

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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

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

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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Paul Georgoulakos at Paul's Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk. April 17, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita

When we stopped by Paul’s Daughter last Monday, “The Chief” called out “light, no sugar” to a helper and offered us coffee and cookies. Paul Georgoulakos, 82, is the oldest operator on the Coney Island Boardwalk and beloved by all except the Bloomberg administration, which purchased the property occupied by his restaurant from Thor Equities, and Zamperla’s Luna Park, which leases it from the City. As Paul’s daughter Tina told ATZ earlier this year: “I wanted so much to be a part of the New Coney Island but they didn’t even offer me a tiny little spot on the Boardwalk.”

The Boardwalk restaurant formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, a masterpiece of vernacular signage established in 1962, is being kicked out to make way for a soulless cafeteria run by Sodexo. The French multinational is the world’s largest food services management company and the world’s 21st largest corporation. In Coney Island, Sodexo also operates the new Cyclone Cafe on Surf Avenue, though you won’t find their name on the marquee. Apparently Luna Park’s “partner for one-site service solutions” likes to keep a low profile in the People’s Playground.

The City’s revitalization plan calls for year-round restaurants in Coney Island’s amusement zone. On Monday, Paul’s Daughter as well as Ruby’s Bar, Gyro Corner and the Suh family’s souvenir shop, whose days on the Boardwalk are also coming to an end, were open as usual. Sodexo’s Cyclone Cafe was shut tight as a drum.

With 27 days left until seven Mom & Pops are kicked off the Coney Island Boardwalk, ATZ will be saying goodbye to old friends with a favorite photo a day. The seven businesses must vacate the premises by November 4th. The one-year reprieve is over. If you have a photo, new or old, that you’d like to contribute, please post a link below or send to hello[AT]triciavita[dot}com

paul's daughter

Paul's Daughter, Oct 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

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

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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1959

1959: Paul's wife and daughter visit him on the Bowery. Photo © Tina Georgoulakos via Paul's Daughter Facebook

Over the past two months, the owners of Ruby’s and Shoot the Freak have emerged as the spokesmen for the Coney Island 8, the eight Boardwalk businesses locked in a eviction battle with Zamperla’s Central Amusement International.  But we’ve heard very little from the others. ATZ got in touch with Tina Georgoulakos, owner of Paul’s Daughter, which was founded as Gregory & Paul’s in 1962, for her view on the Boardwalk Brawl.

“I wanted so much to be a part of the New Coney Island but they didn’t even offer me a tiny little spot on the Boardwalk,” says Tina. “They didn’t even respond to me about my proposal, they didn’t even write my name on the eviction notice. And then to find out I’m being replaced by Sodexo, a company who paid out $100 million to settle lawsuits because of racism against their employees and fraud against New York schools. I feel like I’m in a bad B movie.”

Tina and Paul Georgoulakos

Day after the eviction: Tina and Paul Georgoulakos. Photo © Tina Georgoulakos via Paul's Daughter Facebook

Zamperla’s plan for Paul’s Daughter’s Boardwalk location at the southeast corner of Luna Park is a restaurant run by food management giant Sodexo.  The French multinational is the world’s 22nd largest corporation. Since the park opened in May, the company has been Zamperla’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions,” setting up and managing food and beverage kiosks in the park.

In early December the Boardwalk businesses were asked to give access to architects from a firm that was hired by the EDC this summer to do existing condition reports on each of the Boardwalk properties.  They were requested to provide access for them since the city needed these reports for insurance purposes.

“The architects did complete floor plans and elevations, they then turned those drawings over to Sodexo,” says Tina. “One of the architects asked Sodexo rep Sandy Boyd if Sodexo was going to be  a year-round  restaurant and she replied ‘oh no, it will be seasonal, there aren’t enough people here off season.’ Of course being open all year is what CAI has been pitching to the public so it’s just another lie.”

Burger Girl

Burger Girl at Paul's Daughter. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

After the shock of finding out that her location at the Boardwalk entrance to the park would become a Sodexo-run restaurant, Tina was disapppointed that the City and Zamperla didn’t at least offer her another space, even a smaller one, on the Boardwalk.  If another location had been offered she would have a smaller menu and take the Burger people from the roof and put them together, along with the iconic signage, she says.

The lack of support from City officials and some comments in the media have also been hurtful. In Monday’s NY Post, Councilman Domenic Recchia said, ‘I understand the sentiment that these businesses have been here a long time, but they also made a lot of money paying cheap rent all these years. If they really cared, I know firsthand that they had plenty of chances to buy these properties and fix them up, but they never did.”

Gregory & Paul

1962: Paul partners with Gregory Bitetzakis and takes over the old Howard Johnson’s on W. 8 St. and the Boardwalk. They call it Gregory & Paul’s Bar and Grill. 1968: Rockefeller buys the property their store is on and donates it to the Aquarium, putting them (and seven other stores) out of business. Photo © Tina Georgoulakos via Paul’s Daughter Facebook

“I wish Recchia had called me. I imagine he’s going to be very angry when he finds out he was misinformed,” says Tina. “It hurts me to hear such untruths about my store Paul’s Daughter. There aren’t any violations against it.  I’ve been handcuffed by one year leases for years and years. And I would have given anything to have been given the opportunity to purchase the property but it was never offered and by the way it sold for 32 30 million dollars to Sitt.  I pay $100,000 for seven months.  I guess some people don’t think that’s a lot. I proposed to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to modernize my iconic store.”

Paul’s Daughter is located on the former Astroland property and was able to remain there after Sitt bought the land. In 2009, the city purchased the property along with two additional lots on Stillwell for $95 million and leased them to Zamperla, which pays $100,000 annual rent plus a small percentage of the gross receipts to the City. According to CAI’s contract with the City, Luna Park also received a subsidy of $5.7 million from the City for “among other things, facilitating the purchase of certain equipment necessary for the Tenant to operate the Premises as a first class amusement park.”

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

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

“I would have been elated to share in Valerio’s vision for Coney Island only he kept it a secret,” said Tina. “If they were even entertaining the idea of me staying wouldn’t they have shared their vision with me?”  On the day of eviction, Valerio Ferrari, Zamperla USA CEO, told ATZ: “They didn’t have the vision that we have for the Boardwalk. It’s a business decision.” He said Zamperla/CAI’s vision is to revitalize the Boardwalk by making it a lively place open 365 days a year. But it’s also a matter of investment dollars.

Says Tina: “It breaks my heart  to know that not only is my city, my beloved New York, not helping me, they are trying to tell lies about my business to make me look bad.  I haven’t a clue as to why.  Ask anyone in Coney Island about my dad aka ‘The Chief.’ I don’t know a soul who doesn’t adore him. Forty-one crazy, wonderful years on the Boardwalk.  I love NY….. I love Brooklyn and I love the view from my store even more.  I wish someone could help me stay.”

paul's daughter

Last Day of Season at Paul's Daughter, Oct 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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

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

November 21, 2010: Goodbye (Or Maybe Not?) to My Coney Island Equivalent of Proust’s Madeleine

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

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