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Posts Tagged ‘Mom and Pop’

Williams Candy, Coney Island

Marshmallow Treats and Candy Apples at Williams Candy, Coney Island. May 29, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Williams Candy, Coney Island’s last remaining Mom and Pop candy shop since Philips lost their space in Stillwell Terminal and moved to Staten Island, has been on Surf Avenue for 74 years. Their homemade marshmallow treats and candy apples are the quintessential Coney Island dessert after a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous, which is next door. Our favorite is their Caramel Marshmallow Sticks with Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Caramel Marshmallow Sticks with Chocolate Sprinkles! They sell ice cream cones and cotton candy, too.

With Surf Avenue morphing into a mecca for corporate chains and franchises like It’Sugar, Applebee’s and Johnny Rockets, we were happy to see the old-fashioned Williams get a shout out from mega food site The Daily Meal in “24 Best Boardwalks for Food in the U.S.” Fellow Mom & Pops Ruby’s Bar on the Boardwalk and Plaza Mexico Dona Zita on the Bowery also got a mention in the slideshow, which featured Coney Island as number one among 24 boardwalks.

Williams Candy, 1318 Surf Ave, Coney Island, 718-372-0302

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May 13, 2013: Grimaldi’s Rings in Coney Island Comeback with Dreamland Bell

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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

Related posts on ATZ...

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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CLOSEd

CLOSED: Coney Island Souvenir Shop, 1987-2011. Its signs were put in the dumpster. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One of Coney Island’s oldest Mom & Pops quietly went out of business after losing their lease due to Zamperla USA’s redevelopment of the City-owned Boardwalk. Coney Island Souvenir Shop, located next to Ruby’s Bar on the Boardwalk, was started 25 years ago by Tommy Suh. After he died last year, his wife Sue and their son Rob carried on the family business.

Last week in Coney Island, work crews were busy cleaning out whatever had been left behind by the evicted Boardwalk shops. It was sad to see the familiar red-and-white sign from the Souvenir Shop about to be rolled into a dumpster. A second sign was already inside, its yellow lettering peering over the top. For as long as we’ve been coming to Coney Island, the Suh family has been rolling these signs in and out of the shop at the beginning and end of the business day.

Mrs. Suh in her family's souvenir shop on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Mrs. Suh in her family's souvenir shop on the Boardwalk in happier days. April 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Compared to Ruby’s or Paul’s Daughter, the closing of Coney Island Souvenir and the other small businesses on the Boardwalk attracted very little media attention. In Bloomberg’s New York City, seeing a shuttered store where a longtime business was yesterday is so common that it’s not newsworthy unless the place is a local legend or the last of its kind. Even the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which has paid tribute to hundreds of vanished places since 2007 couldn’t possibly cover them all. After looking up VNY’s first year-end tally— “Combined, we’ve seen close to 1,000 years of New York history vanish in 2007”– we didn’t have the fortitude to continue the count.

Last November, when the Boardwalk Mom and Pops were fighting their eviction, we first came across this 2009 article on the web: “New York Closes Shop” by small business advocate Stephen Null. It contains some stunning statistics on the number of small businesses that have closed during the Bloomberg administration:

A reliable way to evaluate the stability of New York City’s small business community is to examine the number of Commercial Warrants for Eviction. The majority of these warrants are issued to “holdover commercial tenants” whose leases have expired, and who can’t afford to pay the new, higher rent. The consensus of business organizations is that these warrants represent about one third of small businesses; the ones that stay and fight in court. The other two-thirds walk away without a fight.During what many consider the reign of terror for small businesses — 1986-1989, the last 4 years of Koch’s term — 17,433 warrants were issued to evict small businesses, out of approximately 53,000 total small business failures. During the last full four years under Bloomberg, 2005-2008, 27,809 warrants were issued to evict, with about 83,000 small businesses forced to close. Since the successful businessman Bloomberg took office, around 152,964 small businesses have been forced to go out of business.

Keep in mind Null’s article was published in August 2009 and the stats do not cover the last three years of the Bloomberg administration. Is anyone still keeping track? To these statistics, we add six of the original Coney Island 8: Coney Island Souvenir Shop, Steve’s Grill House, Beer Island, Shoot the Freak, Cha Cha’s and Gyro Corner Clam Bar.

Zamperla’s policy of squeezing out Boardwalk businesses through evictions and offering ridiculously expensive lease deals is counter to the Coney Island Development Corporation’s mission of encouraging the development and retention of existing businesses. If the Coney Island 8 hadn’t fought in court and won a one-year reprieve, it’s very likely we’d have a shuttered Boardwalk and a Miami restaurateur would be bankrupt. The CI8 did the City and Zamperla a favor.

Now let’s see if Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter can afford to sign those leases that they were offered more than one month ago by CAI, operator of Zamperla’s Luna Park. Sources tell ATZ that negotiations were extended another two weeks. Nobody wants to see the last of the Boardwalk Mom & Pops join the sad statistics of small businesses forced to close during the Bloomberg administration.

souvenir shop

Closed: Coney Island Souvenir Shop, 1987-2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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 1, 2010: Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back

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