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Posts Tagged ‘Nathan’s Famous’

No one can hope to be elected in this state without being photographed eating a hot dog at Nathan’s

“No one can hope to be elected in this state without being photographed eating a hot dog at Nathan’s” — Nelson Rockefeller

The presidential candidates ate cheese curds in Wisconsin, now it’s time to chow down on hot dogs in Coney Island! As New York’s three-term Republican governor, Nelson Rockefeller, famously said in 1966, “No one can hope to be elected in this state without being photographed eating a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous.”

Last April, when Hillary Clinton announced her campaign headquarters would be in Brooklyn, we anticipated she’d soon show up at Nathan’s for her photo op. What is she waiting for?

Now that the New York Primary is competitive for the first time in decades and Nathan’s is celebrating its 100th anniversary, a trip to the People’s Playground is required to establish her Brooklyn bona fides.

For Bernie Sanders, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, and moved to Vermont in his 20’s, being photographed eating a hot dog at Nathan’s and shaking hands with locals would be seen as a homecoming. UPDATE: April 8th… It looks like Bernie will be the first! We have confirmation that Bernie will be on the Coney Island Boardwalk for a 2pm rally on Sunday with security check-in beginning at 11am! 

Though Donald Trump is a native New Yorker, don’t expect to see him belly up to the counter at Nathan’s. There is absolutely such a thing as bad publicity. The Donald’s presence in Coney Island would occasion mention of the horrible damage his father Fred Trump wreaked here 50 years ago. See the exhibit at the Coney Island History Project this summer: “The 50th Anniversary of Fred Trump’s Demolition of the Steeplechase Pavilion.”

Today, Ted Cruz went to a matzoh bakery in Brighton Beach and also to Coney Island, according to a tweet from the 60th Precinct. It’s sheer cluelessness of “New York Values” that he got this close and skipped Nathan’s. Meanwhile at Mike’s Deli in the Bronx, John Kasich showed an appetite worthy of a competitor in Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The tradition of New York politicians making a campaign stop at Nathan’s has encompassed governors, mayors, attorneys general, comptrollers and city council presidents. In an iconic photo taken at Nathan’s Famous, Nelson Rckefeller and the state’s attorney general, Lewis Lefkowitz, are seen enthusiastically eating the famous franks. “They campaigned aggressively in overwhelmingly Democratic Coney Island in 1966,” according to Gastropolis: Food and New York City. “They ate countless hot dogs and shook hands for hours in what was their most successful day on the campaign trail.”

In the previously unpublished photo below from the archive of Famous Nathan director Lloyd Handwerker, Nathan welcomes the Democratic candidates in the 1961 municipal election to his hot dog emporium. Robert F. Wagner for Mayor, Abe Beame for Comptroller, and Paul R. Screvane for President of the City Council went on to defeat the Republicans.

Campaigning at Nathan's

1961 Democratic candidates Robert F. Wagner for Mayor, Abe Beame for Comptroller, and Paul R. Screvane for President of the City Council campaigning at Nathan’s. Photo © Lloyd Handwerker Archive. FamousNathan.com

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Famous Nathan

Poster for Famous Nathan courtesy Film Movement. Photo of Nathan by Barton Silverman/ New York Times/Redux Pictures

Mazel tov! We’re happy to report that “Famous Nathan,” Lloyd Handwerker’s documentary about his grandfather, who founded Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous nearly a century ago in 1916, is getting a theatrical run this summer. After premiering last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, the doc screened at film fests from Coney Island to Jerusalem. The film opens on July 17 for a one-week engagement at the Cinema Village in Manhattan, including some Q & A’s with the filmmaker, followed by a July 31-August 6 run at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills. New York-based indie distributor Film Movement will release the Handwerker doc in North America across multiple VOD and digital platforms on August 4th, with a DVD release on September 29th.

Pieced together over a 30-year period, the film was a labor of love for the filmmaker, who was 17 when his grandfather died. It is also a remarkably candid family memoir. As we wrote last year after seeing the film at Tribeca: Nathan Handwerker, the founder of Nathan’s Famous hot dog empire, is a mythic figure in Coney Island history. The story of the young Polish immigrant working at Feltman’s and saving his salary to open a competing restaurant where hot dogs sold for a nickel instead of a dime is the stuff of legend. His grandson Lloyd Handwerker’s documentary “Famous Nathan” humanizes him and at the same time makes us see that he truly was larger than life.

The documentary is told through home movies, archival photos and footage, the filmmaker’s interviews with a colorful cast of characters including family members and former Nathan’s workers, and the voice of Famous Nathan himself. A 16-minute oral history, condensed from nearly four hours taped by Lloyd’s cousin David Sternshein when their grandfather was 82 is central to the narrative. The cadence of Nathan’s voice and his story reverberate in the imagination even after the film is over: “I want to go to America. I was dreaming about it.”

Famous Nathan directed by Lloyd Handwerker, July 17-23 at Cinema Village, 22 East 12th St, New York, NY. Q & A’s with the filmmaker will be held at the 7pm shows every night, plus the 9pm shows on July 17, 18 and 23, and at the 5pm show on Sunday, July 19.

Related posts on ATZ…

April 22, 2014: ATZ Review: ‘Famous Nathan,’ A Documentary by Lloyd Handwerker

April 8, 2014: Photo Album: Classic Chevrolets at Nathan’s Coney Island

March 6, 2014: Tribeca Film Fest to Premiere ‘Famous Nathan’ Doc by Grandson Lloyd Handwerker

March 24, 2013: “Notorious BOB” and Larell Marie Win Nathan’s Hot Dog Qualifier

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Steeplechase Luna Park

Steeplechase Ride at Luna Park. Coney Island’s amusement rides open for the 2015 season on Palm Sunday, March 29th. Photo © Tricia Vita

Want to get into the business of fun? An array of amusement park jobs including ride operator, bartender, games manager and online marketing coordinator are up for grabs. Coney Island’s first job recruitment events of the 2015 season are on Monday and Tuesday and some employers have started posting ads on Craigslist and specialized job boards. Coney Island’s opening day is early this year–March 29th–with the parks open weekends and school holidays until the daily schedule begins on Memorial Day Weekend. (Scroll down for updates on recruitment events and job offerings.)The February 23rd and 24th recruitment event is hosted by the Alliance for Coney Island in partnership with Human Resources Administration, NYCEDC’s HireNYC Program and Council Member Mark Treyger. It will be held at MCU Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Stadium (1904 Surf Avenue) from 12 noon till 4pm. Representatives from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Luna Park, Nathan’s Famous, Ruby’s Bar and Grill, and Applebee’s will be among the businesses interviewing for ride operators, game operators, park services, food services and cashiers. The independently operated games of skill on West 12th Street are also seeking game operators for the 2015 season.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is among the Coney Island businesses seeking job applicants at this week’s workforce recruitment event. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

CAI Foods, the food division of Zamperla’s Central Amusement International, which operates Luna Park, will have a job fair next week on March 2nd and 3rd. CAI Foods operates Place to Beach, the Cyclone Cafe and kiosks in Luna Park. Food service jobs include cook, service assistant, kiosk operator, bar back, bartender and cashier. The job fair will be held at the B&B Carousell on the Boardwalk next to the Parachute Jump. All applicants must complete an online application before attending the job fair. Luna Park is also seeking an Online Marketing Coordinator to create and manage engaging content for the park’s website, social media and e-newsletters ($38,000). “This gig is unlike any other social media job,” says the job description. “You’ll be running around creating content with a small camera and your wits, coordinating with our photographers and videographers and pestering staff members for exciting information for our online audience. We won’t lie — it’s tough, you’ll be busy as heck during the summer (especially weekends) and we need someone who is just a little bit awesome.”

Cat Rack in Coney Island

A supervisor and game attendant practice “Downing A Clown” on Surf Avenue, Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Managerial job openings at Luna Park include a Warehouse Manager to oversee a team responsible for stocking games, merchandise, photo booths, uniform inventory, maintenance spare parts and other items ($40,000-$45,000) and a Games and Retail Manager with experience in the amusement industry ($45,000-$50,000). Nathan’s Famous is hiring Restaurant Managers and Shift Managers for their Coney Island locations. Experienced RMS earn up to $865 per week and shift managers up to $15 per hour. Ruby’s Bar and Grill on the Boardwalk is hiring a manager and assistant manager, as well as a cook, counter help, and bartender, according to a new post on their website. The Alliance for Coney Island is looking for a Marketing and Corporate Partnerships Manager with experience in marketing, corporate partnerships, communications and media/press relations.

UPDATE April 17, 2015:

On April 23 and 24, Luna Park will have a job fair at the B&B Carousell from 10am-6pm. The carousel is located on the boardwalk bext to the Parachute Jump. There will also be a job fair at B&B on April 27 and 28 for cashiers, bartenders and food service workers. On April 21 and 22 another job recruitment event will be held at MCU Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Stadium (1904 Surf Avenue) from 10am till 4pm. Representatives from Central Amusement International (Luna Park), Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Eldorado Auto Skooter, Nathan’s Famous, Applebee’s and the Coney Island YMCA will be among the businesses interviewing for full-time and part-time seasonal positions. You can pre-register here. Lola Star Boutique is seeking Shift Managers. Aramark is still hiring for Catering Attendants and Food Service Helpers and Line Cooks at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ MCU Park.

UPDATE March 18, 2015:

Game of skill operators are needed for the 2015 season at the independent games on West 12th street off the Boardwalk. Apply in person or message @MissConeyIsland via twitter. Wahlburgers is hiring a Marketing and Events Coordinator for the franchise opening in Coney Island Luna Park is seeking Brand Ambassadors to work both in Coney Island and off-site. Additional positions listed on the job opportunities section of the park’s website.

UPDATE March 8, 2015:

On Monday, March 9th, from 10am – 4pm, there will be an additional workforce screening event for jobs with Luna Park, Eldorado Skooter and others. The location is Gargiulo’s Restaurant, 2911 West 15th Street off Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Samuel Adams’ Alchemy & Science division, which is opening a brewery on Surf Avenue for their line of Coney Island Beer, is seeking an account manager. “Coney Island Brewing Company is a local New York brewery and we need you to join our team to sell our beers. We need you promoting Coney Island beers in the New York market. Adult alcohol industry experience strongly preferred.” Seasonal positions with Aramark’s food and beverage operation at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, include a concessions supervisor . They are also hiring cashiers, food service helpers, and maintenance workers as well as experienced retail store associates and store supervisors for the team store. The season at MCU starts June 20th. Lola Star Boutique, which has locations on the Boardwalk and in Stillwell Terminal, is seeking shift managers in Coney and a studio production manager in Sunset Park.

12th street games

The independently operated games of skill on West 12th Street are seeking game operators for the 2015 season

Related posts on ATZ…

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets January 20, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Adds Scrambler, ‘Twist & Shout’ Drop Tower December 5, 2014: Wahlburgers Burger Franchise to Open in Coney Island May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

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Hello Kitty and Honey Bear at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island

Hello Kitty and Honey Bear at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, August 30, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita


Nothing beats taking a break from trudging though the snow and cleaning up after burst water pipes like dawdling over photos from the last days of summer. Today’s fave was taken on the last Saturday of August of a couple enjoying a bite to eat at Nathan’s at dusk after a day at the beach and amusement parks. It was their parked prizes, Hello Kitty and Honey Bear, that caught our eye on the way to the station. Hello summer, goodbye winter can’t come soon enough.

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November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

April 20, 2013: Photo of the Day: Moon Viewing in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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

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Nathan and Ida Handwerker

Nathan Handwerker and Ida Handwerker at the 50th anniversary of Nathan’s, 1966. Photo By Daniel Farrell. Courtesy of Loquat Films

Nathan Handwerker, the founder of Nathan’s Famous hot dog empire, is a mythic figure in Coney Island history. The story of the young Polish immigrant working at Feltman’s and saving his salary to open a competing restaurant where hot dogs sold for a nickel instead of a dime is the stuff of legend. His grandson Lloyd Handwerker’s documentary Famous Nathan humanizes him and at the same time makes us see that he truly was larger than life. The film premiered on Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be screened again on April 25 and 26.

The opening scene is a sweet first memory in a remarkably candid family memoir: Lloyd and his sister are children being fed loquats plucked from a tree by their grandfather. The documentary is told through home movies, archival photos and footage, the filmmaker’s interviews with a colorful cast of characters including family members and former Nathan’s workers, and the voice of Famous Nathan himself. A 16-minute oral history, condensed from nearly four hours taped by Lloyd’s cousin David Sternshein when their grandfather was 82 is central to the narrative. The cadence of Nathan’s voice and his story reverberate in the imagination even after the film is over: “I want to go to America. I was dreaming about it.”

Nathan says he could neither read nor write, but that he had common sense. His ingenuity is evident every step of the way, from sleeping with his money in his shoes during the voyage, to calling out customers’ orders one at a time at his first restaurant job since he didn’t know a word of English, to keeping the frankfurters from spoiling by storing them in a barrel between layers of ice. He courted his wife-to-be Ida when she opened a little stand next door to his own. Remember those vintage photos of Nathan’s in which the cars are double and triple parked out front? Well, no one ever got a ticket because the cops on the beat were paid $2 a day and all they could eat.

The other side of this successful immigrant’s story is that Nathan was a workaholic, who was by all accounts highly critical of the store’s managers including his sons Murray and Sol. “If he didn’t say anything, he wasn’t criticizing you,” says one of the former managers, who clearly idolized him nonetheless. When it came time to retire, Ida felt as if she were being punished instead of seeing it as a reward, says Lloyd’s uncle Murray. Nathan asked if he could sweep the street, and turned up at the store in Oceanside in a Cadillac and swept the parking lot, much to the surprise of workers who asked who he was.

At one point in the film, Lloyd asks his father Sol, who is now 88 and the only surviving child of Nathan, if he ever wanted him to go into the family business. Sol says he wanted him to have “a better life, a more interesting life.” Lloyd’s chosen career was cinematography and for the past 30 years he has been piecing together his family’s history.

“My grandfather died when I was 17. I knew him quite well,” the 57-year-old Brooklyn film-maker said in a previous interview with ATZ. His quest appears to have been propelled by the fact that Sol left the family business when Lloyd was 7. Growing up he’d only been to Coney Island a few times and he never worked at Nathan’s. “Why am I here? I guess I’m trying to recreate something of my grandfather,” he says into the camera, as a young man of 30, though he looks much younger, sitting in Nathan’s chair in his office. He has succeeded brilliantly.

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 14, 2015: ‘Famous Nathan’ Documentary Gets Theatrical Run, VOD and DVD Release

April 8, 2014: Photo Album: Classic Chevrolets at Nathan’s Coney Island

March 6, 2014: Tribeca Film Fest to Premiere ‘Famous Nathan’ Doc by Grandson Lloyd Handwerker

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

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Famous Nathan by Lloyd Handwerker

Famous Nathan directed and written by Lloyd Handwerker. Photo Mike Zwerling/courtesy Loquat Film

The long-awaited documentary about Nathan’s Famous by Lloyd Handwerker, grandson of the hot dog emporium’s founders Nathan and Ida Handwerker, is set to premiere at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Famous Nathan is among the films in the festival’s Viewpoints Section, which was announced yesterday. A screening date for the film has not yet been announced. The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 16 through 27. (Update: The film will premiere on April 17, with additional screenings on April 21, 25 and 26. Tickets are available, beginning with Amex presale, starting April 8. Read ATZ’s review of the film here.)

“I’ve been working on it for almost 30 years, off and on,” the 57-year-old Brooklyn film-maker said in an interview this morning with ATZ. “My grandfather died when I was 17. I knew him quite well.” According to Lloyd’s research into his family’s history, “In 1912, Nathan, age 19, one of 13 brothers and sisters from a poor Jewish family, left Jaroslaw, Poland and arrived in New York City. He was unable to read, write or speak a word of English. By the 1930’s, he’d created one of the most loved places to eat anywhere in the world, in Coney Island, Brooklyn.”

Though Lloyd has never worked at Nathan’s, as a cinematographer he felt compelled to piece together his family’s history. His father Sol, who will be 89 in October, was first taken in to work in the kitchen as a young child, piling up rolls on a roll board and cutting frankfurters, according to one of our favorite interviews in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive. The former Vice President of Nathan’s Famous, who is the only surviving child of Nathan and Ida, will attend the premiere with his wife Minnie.

People who worked at Nathan’s for decades, some for more than 40 years, also shared their memories with the film-maker. “There are elderly workers who are still alive and hopefully they’ll be able to get to the premiere,” said Lloyd. “I offer this personal, long-in-the-making film to my parents, grandparents, the Nathan’s workers and to lovers of our great city everywhere.”

Lloyd Handwerker

Lloyd Handwerker with Steeplechase Horse at the Coney Island History Project. Photo © Coney Island History Project

Famous Nathan
Directed and written by Lloyd Handwerker
(USA) – World Premiere, Documentary

Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters, a New York City icon, has left a lasting imprint on the collective memory and palate of Coney Island. Director and grandson of ‘Famous’ Nathan himself, Lloyd Handwerker, takes a look back at the immigrant experience and almost 100 years of family and New York history in this personal documentary gem. Featuring a strong score, colorful and endearing characters, rare archival material, and a nuanced editing style, Famous Nathan will not disappoint New York history enthusiasts.

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 14, 2015: ‘Famous Nathan’ Documentary Gets Theatrical Run, VOD and DVD Release

April 22, 2014: ATZ Review: ‘Famous Nathan,’ A Documentary by Lloyd Handwerker

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

July 26, 2012: Film Trailer: Zipper, Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride

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Joey Clams, New Chief Clam Shucker at Nathan's Famous

Joey Clams, New Chief Clam Shucker at Nathan’s on Surf Ave, Coney Island. June 8, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Joey Clams is baaack! He’s the new chief clam shucker at Nathan’s Famous new clam and oyster bar at Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. “They call me the mothershucker,” quipped Joey, who started working there this week.

Joey was the affable manager of Gyro Corner when it was on the Boardwalk and had a clam bar on the 12th Street side. Its “Hey Joey!” mural painted by L.A.-based Gents of Desire won acclaim from art critics and brought a measure of fame if not fortune to Joey Clams. The mural was painted over when the spot became Nathan’s Boardwalk location, but many photos of “Hey Joey!” can be found on flickr.

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