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Posts Tagged ‘roadside architecture’

Coney Island Colorado

Coney Island Colorado Diner, Bailey, CO. Photo © RoadsideArchitecture.com

The historic 1960’s hot-dog shaped Coney Island Boardwalk restaurant in Bailey, Colorado, is up for sale again. Somebody is going to be sorry they didn’t buy it in 2011. The asking price is triple what it was back then, making it perhaps the priciest hot dog ever. According to local news reports, owner Ron Aigner is retiring and has listed the property for $1,495,000.

The diner’s designer Marcus Shannon of Lakewood, Colorado, planned a chain of hot dog diners and filed a patent for the design in 1965. The eatery was originally located on West Colfax in Denver. Since 1970, the Coney Island Boardwalk has been on scenic US Highway 285, first in Aspen Park and then in Bailey, about 30 miles southwest of Denver. The bun is 35 feet long and the hot dog 42 feet. Made of concrete-and-steel, this fine example of novelty architecture weighs a hefty 18 tons.

The building has been hailed as “the best example of roadside architecture in the state” by Thomas J. Noel, a Professor of History and Director of Public History, Preservation & Colorado Studies at the University of Colorado. In reply to ATZ’s email when the hot dog diner first went up for sale, Noel (aka “Dr. Colorado”) wrote: “We Coloradans should rally to save one of our greatest culinary landmarks, a most delicious morsel of pop roadside art. Hot Dog! Don’t let the Coney Island die.”

The first photo in this post was taken by our friend RoadsideNut, a New Yorker who has extensively documented America’s roadside architecture on her website. Check out the Burgers and Hot Dogs page, where the Coney Island in Colorado appears along with Top Dog, Giant Burger and other architectural wonders.

Broker Jim Urban posted a video tour of the Coney Island Boardwalk diner property on YouTube:

Related posts on ATZ…

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

June 10, 2014: What’s New at Paul’s Daughter: Lobster Rolls, Mama Burger Fundraiser, LEDs

January 28, 2011: Colorado’s Hot Dog-Shaped Coney Island Boardwalk Diner For Sale

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

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Big Tex

The New “Big Tex” Was Unveiled at the State Fair of Texas on September 26. Photo via State Fair of Texas

The State of Fair of Texas opens on Friday with a new “Big Tex” who looks different from the old Big Tex ready to say “Howdy, folks!” with his new voice. The now 55-foot-tall figure stands in huge size 70 Lucchese boots featuring symbols of Texas such as the state flower and bird and Capitol building, as well as the State and U.S. flags. The welcome home ceremony will be streamed live at 2pm.

Last October, the original 60-year-old Big Tex was destroyed by flames from an electrical fire on the last weekend of the fair. The icon was rebuilt with the help of many donors, from Tall Texans ($1,000) and Big Tex – Reboot ($500) to Tex’s Friends ($25).

The new Big Tex’s big eyes, darker complexion and the configuration of his arms and hands are different than the old cowboy. On the Big Tex Grief Support Group page on Facebook, which was formed after the fire, reactions to the new Big Tex ranged from “Nothing like the old Big Tex!!!!!!” and “He looks great! – Just like a real Texan / Tejano! Love him!” to “He kind of looks like Howdy Doody!” and “Fail!” Here’s a slide show from KERA of North Texas showing how Big Tex has looked through the years.

Real Photo Post Card of The Worlds Largest Santa Clause Kerens, Texas 1949 Taylor Studio . From the Collection of Ed Williams

Real Photo Post Card of The Worlds Largest Santa Claus. Kerens, Texas 1949. Taylor Studio. Ed Williams Collection

Big Tex was originally a roadside “World’s Largest Santa Claus” built by the Chamber of Commerce in Kerens, Texas, according to The Great State Fair of Texas by Nancy Wiley. The 49-foot figure was constructed from iron-pipe drill casing and papier mache. The State Fair’s president bought the Santa in 1951 and hired Dallas artist Jack Bridges to transform him into a giant cowboy.

We’ve been fond of Big Tex since childhood. He was a familiar figure on vintage postcards in Mom’s shoebox of postcards from the road. ATZ met the big guy in 2006, the first time we visited the State Fair of Texas, which is worth a trip from anywhere. In 2012, the Dallas fair was once again no. 1 on Carnival Warehouse’s list of North America’s Top 50 Fairs, with an attendance of 2.56 million. The 2013 State Fair of Texas runs September 27 – October 20.

Big Tex Vintage Postcard

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 20, 2013: Photo Album: 87th Annual Feast of San Gennaro

June 17, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

August 9, 2012: Traveler: Skywheel at the Wisconsin State Fair 2012

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

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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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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

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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Coney Island Colorado

Coney Island Colorado Diner, Bailey, CO. Photo © RoadsideArchitecture.com

November 8, 2015: The Coney Island Boardwalk Hot Dog restaurant in Bailey, Colorado, is up for sale again! The asking price is triple what it was in 2011. Scroll down for update…

Hey, wanna buy the Coney Island Boardwalk? The historic hot-dog shaped “Coney Island Boardwalk” diner, in Bailey, Colorado, is being offered for sale by its owner. It’s all yours, including stucco bun and mustard and relish toppings, for just $499K. According to the listing, the bun is 35 feet long and the hot dog 42 feet. Made of concrete-and-steel, this fine example of novelty architecture weighs a hefty 18 tons. But the buyer will have to move the 1960’s eatery from its current location on the South Platte River about 30 miles southwest of Denver.

Inside the Hot Dog

Inside the Hot Dog. Photo © themickeyd/RonMcdonald via flickr

“Truly my dream was to have a beautiful location,” said Ron Aigner, the diner’s owner, in a phone interview with ATZ. “Now I can’t even walk the dog.” Left disabled with a broken back after an altercation with local authorities, Aigner closed the diner and advertised it for sale. Aigner told ATZ he wouldn’t mind if somebody bought the diner and moved it from Colorado to the original Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York! Now that would be an unusual move: New York City has been losing its historic diners since the Moondance was sold to new owners in Wyoming and the Cheyenne went to Alabama.

Once Coloradans find out about the listing, we think they’ll rally to save their Coney Island, which was built in Denver in 1966. Its designer Marcus Shannon of Lakewood, Colorado, planned a chain of hot dog diners and filed a patent for the design in 1965. The eatery was originally located on West Colfax in Denver. Since 1970, the Coney Island Boardwalk has been on scenic US Highway 285, first in Aspen Park and then in Bailey.

The building has been hailed as “the best example of roadside architecture in the state” by Thomas J. Noel, a Professor of History and Director of Public History, Preservation & Colorado Studies at the University of Colorado. In reply to ATZ’s email, Noel (aka “Dr. Colorado”) wrote: “We Coloradans should rally to save one of our greatest culinary landmarks, a most delicious morsel of pop roadside art. Hot Dog! Don’t let the Coney Island die.”

Under the Dog

Under the Dog. Photo © themickeyd/RonMcdonald via flickr

The delightful interior of the hot dog, which was lovingly restored, includes two booths and a diminutive counter with a few stools. “I moved it and renovated it. It does a huge business,” says Aigner, who offered to provide sales figures to prospective buyers. “I put out about 20 to 30 tables for people to sit by the river.” Indeed, restaurant reviewers mention an hour-long wait for a wiener during the busy summer season, though they say it was worth it for the Chicago-style dog. But Aigner says the location was not suited for year-round business: “We’re on the road to Breckinridge. It’s the second busiest highway, but not the ski traffic highway.”

The first photo in this post was taken by our friend RoadsideNut, a New Yorker who has extensively documented America’s roadside architecture on her website. Check out the Burgers and Hot Dogs page, where the Coney Island in Colorado appears along with Top Dog, Giant Burger and other architectural wonders.

UPDATE November 8, 2015:

The Coney Island Boardwalk Hot Dog restaurant in Bailey, Colorado, is up for sale again! According to a local news report, owner Ron Aigner is retiring and has listed the property for $1,495,000. Broker Jim Urban has posted a video tour on YouTube:

UPDATE August 14, 2011:

ATZ is happy to report that the diner reopened for the summer. The person whom we spoke with on the phone was unable to confirm fall/winter hours. Call in advance. A Yelper reports that the elk dogs are terrific. The diner’s address is 10 Old Stagecoach Rd, Bailey, CO 80421. Phone (303) 838-4210.

Before Renovation: The Coney Island Hotdog Stand, seen here in Aspen Park, CO, before it was sold and moved to Bailey, CO in March 2006. August 16, 2005. Photo © mrivorey/Chris Moody via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 4, 2010: Artifact of the Day: Vintage Coffee Cup from Childs Restaurant

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

October 17, 2010: Coney Island to Get Flying Coaster from Denver’s Elitch Gardens

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

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