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Surf's Up on the Boardwalk?

Surf’s Up on Coney Island Boardwalk, March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Surfboard parked on the Coney Island Boardwalk? Not exactly, it’s one of the signs that was about to go up on Zamperla’s new Place to BEach Bar (the capital “E” is a pun). The surfboard signage and other finishing touches, including tables and a deck, were being put in place this week at the new bar and Mexican grill on the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue.

Adjacent to Scream Zone, the location was formerly Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island, whose owners were evicted after the 2011 season. Valerio Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla, famously told the New York Times that he wanted something more “refined, cleaner. A little more year-round, if it’s possible, with sit-down restaurants and sports bars.” It’s happening. Last year, the facades of the remaining Boardwalk businesses got a sleek redo and Tom’s proved that a Boardwalk restaurant can stay open through the winter.

PTB Bar

New PTB Bar AKA Place to BEach Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The new “Place to Be” was expected to open Easter weekend along with the Cyclone Cafe and food kiosks inside Luna Park. These venues will be operated by CAI Food LLC, the new food division of Zamperla’s Central Amusement International. An additional CAI restaurant will open in the B&B Carousel Pavilion at Steeplechase Plaza in May.

The opening of PTB Bar and the other CAI eateries marks the amusement park operator and ride manufacturer’s first foray into the food business in Coney Island. Until this season, food service giant Sodexo was Zamperla’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions.” The French multinational, the world’s 22nd largest employer, paid a rental fee to Zamperla. Sodexo kept such a low profile in Coney Island that the only sign we’ve ever seen with their name is the piece of paper at the bottom of this post. It was put up to direct trainees to their restaurant. Yet it was their staff who operated the Cyclone Cafe and the food kiosks since Luna Park opened in 2010.

Sodexo

Food display at Sodexo-operated Cyclone Cafe last summer, June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the time, Ferrari told ATZ that Sodexo was investing $1.4 million in a new sit-down restaurant, which was expected to be year-round and feature waiter service. As it turned out, the Cyclone Cafe was open the same hours as the park and its food offerings were what you’d expect from a corporation with a completely centralized purchasing system, which requires clients to choose from a list of “Right Products.” Sodexo is known for its cafeterias and individually branded restaurants at schools, hospitals, military bases and prisons, but nationally branded subtenants are also brought in under franchising or licensing agreements for the appearance of variety.

Sodexo’s departure had long been rumored and is something to cheer about. According to the partnership agreement, after 3 years either party was free to terminate the lease, with CAI having to reimburse the remaining value of Sodexo’s initial investment, with interest. A Sodexo manager who was working on site with cleanup after Sandy confirmed to ATZ that her company was leaving Coney Island.

Sodexo This Way

Sodexo This Way: Sign directing trainees to Sodexo restaurant in Luna Park, Coney Island. April 12, 2011. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

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March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

March 11, 2013: Luna Park’s Pinwheels Go Up on Coney Island Boardwalk

August 29, 2012: Coney Island Has a New Lighthouse: It’s a Beach Bar

November 23, 2010: Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions”

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Sodexo This Way

Sodexo This Way: Sign directing trainees to Sodexo restaurant in Luna Park, Coney Island. April 12, 2011. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

Bringing in Miami Beach restaurateurs and French food services giant Sodexo to operate in Coney Island has turned out to be a fiasco for Luna Park developer Central Amusement International. We’re just glad some of the people in charge realized Coney Island is neither Miami Beach nor a corporate cafeteria before we lost all of our original, irreplaceable businesses and ended up with a shuttered Boardwalk.

After kicking out nine Coney Island Mom and Pops from City-owned property to make way for upscale eateries, the park division of Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla is now reported to be offering multi-year leases to at least two local favorites — Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar. The veteran businesses were supposed to pack up and get out by November 4th. Let’s hope they can negotiate a lease without too many onerous clauses and more of them get the invite. And if a spot becomes available, please, please bring in people who know and represent Coney Island and Brooklyn, New York.

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

One of the reasons for Zamperla’s about-face is that the Miami Beach restaurateurs who opened Coney Cones in July are pulling out of a $5 million deal that would have put new eateries on the Boardwalk from West 12th Street to Stillwell. According to yesterday’s 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.”

Sources tell ATZ that Merlo and his partner Julio Gonzalez have offered to sell Coney Cones, which was a $200,000 investment for them and pays an annual rent of $75,000, to a veteran operator in Coney Island. The ice cream shop is located at the Boardwalk entrance to Luna Park and serves gelato, salads, panini, and Kobrick’s coffee. Currently open every day from 11am till around 7pm, it will close for the season at the end of the month.

Unmentioned in yesterday’s flurry of news reports was another newcomer to Coney Island also pulling back from the original plan. Sodexo, which has food and drink kiosks in Luna Park and operates the new Cyclone Cafe on Surf Avenue, was slated to take over Paul’s Daughter. Last December, Sodexo rep Sandy Boyd showed up at the 40-year-old Boardwalk establishment to pick up plans from the City’s architectural firm. As ATZ reported in “Paul’s Daughter Dishes on the Boardwalk Brawl” (ATZ, January 13, 2011), when one of the architects asked Boyd if Sodexo was going to be a year-round restaurant, she replied “oh no, it will be seasonal, there aren’t enough people here off season.” This was a remarkable admission since part of Zamperla’s rationale for bringing in new businesses to replace the veterans was that the Boardwalk eateries would be open year-round.

Healthy Dining

On the menu at Sodexo's Cyclone Cafe: Healthy Dining at Luna Park. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

Sodexo, the world’s 21st largest corporation, has kept a low profile in Coney Island. The only sign we’ve seen with their name is the piece of paper at the top of this post. It was put up to direct trainees to their restaurant in the spring. ATZ broke the news last year that Sodexo has an exclusive contract with CAI to provide food within the parks and was investing $2.4M in Zamperla’s Coney Island. At the time Luna Park CEO Valerio Ferrari told ATZ that $1.4 million was being invested in the new sit-down restaurant. He said it would be open year-round and feature waiter service and a variety of food. As for the Boardwalk, Sodexo-run restaurants were set to take over “some but not all” of the Boardwalk locations, Ferrari said, including Paul’s Daughter and Pio Pio Riko, which flanked the Boardwalk entrance to Luna Park. Things changed.

Sodexo’s Cyclone Cafe opened this season on Surf Avenue at West 10th Street with a menu of burgers, salads, sushi and brick oven pizza, but it is neither a sit-down restaurant nor a year-round venue. It has been closed on sunny weekdays in recent weeks while the Boardwalk Mom and Pops were open. During Halloween Horror Nights at Luna Park, the cafe is open only to patrons of the ticketed event inside the park. While its Surf Avenue lights blaze, its shutters are closed to the public. When the spot was Gregory and Paul’s, the picnic tables on the sidewalk were one of our favorite spots to sit and have a bite to eat while friends rode the Cyclone.

shuttered on Surf

Shuttered on Surf Avenue: Sodexo's Cyclone Cafe. Photo © Mr Jones via Amusing the Zillion

We’re happy to have officially suspended the Photo of the Day in ATZ’s “Countdown to Corporatization.” The sad goodbye to our Boardwalk friends began with “The Chief of the Coney Island Boardwalk” on October 8th. Rumors of another reprieve had been flying for a few days, which is why we stopped the series on Saturday.

One note of caution: The owners of Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter have not yet negotiated lease deals with Luna Park operator Central Amusement International, which holds a 10-year lease on the City-owned property. The specter of a dark Boardwalk puts the pressure on everyone for the deal to get done. But the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been abuzz about onerous terms in the leases that CAI has offered to the handful of operators who were previously invited to stay as well as to the Miami restaurateurs. The businesses are also expected to foot the bill for the rehab of the buildings as well as pay a higher rent and stay open year round.

Luna BBQ

Sodexo's Luna BBQ, Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

One of the problems with a mandated year-round Coney season and hours is that unlike Luna Park, the restaurants are not subsidized businesses. 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.

However, CAI/Zamperla USA has also invested nearly $30 million in building and operating Luna Park and Scream Zone. 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.” CAI’s Luna Park and Scream Zone as well as the property occupied by the Boardwalk businesses are on City-owned land in Coney Island purchased from Thor Equities for $95.7 million in 2009 and leased to the amusement operator for a ten-year period that began in 2010.

Ruby's

Ruby's Bar, Coney Island. November 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

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December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for 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

January 26, 2010: Scoop: Zamperla’s $24M Coney Island Park to be Named Luna Park!

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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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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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Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While Coney Island’s veteran Mom & Pops hammer out a deal for one last summer on the Boardwalk, French food and facilities giant Sodexo has a sweet 10-year sublease with Luna Park operator Central Amusement International. A copy of the confidential sublease agreement between Sodexo and CAI was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the NYCEDC.

Sodexo’s contract with CAI is dated April 26, 2010 and says it had to be approved by the NYCEDC since the sublease is subordinate to the underlying lease between the City and the amusement operator. Here are some of the terms of Sodexo’s sublease:

–Last season, Sodexo paid Luna Park operator CAI a “flat rental fee” of $75,000 to operate food kiosks in the park. Sodexo keeps all cash receipts and pays all operating expenses. What was the City’s cut? According to the Economic Development Corporation’s (NYCEDC) lease with CAI, the City receives 15% of the fixed rent paid by any subtenant. If you do the math, 15% of $75,000 is a paltry $11,250. By comparison, last year the City received 100 per cent of the rent paid by the Boardwalk businesses, which was $100,000 each for Paul’s Daughter, Ruby’s and the other food concessions.

–Sodexo’s initial investment of $1.432 million is considered a “Reimbursable Initial Capital Investment” for the purchase of four kiosks, a concession trailer, beer and liquor license, and equipment necessary for remodeling and operating the restaurant under construction at Surf Avenue and 10th St. The Reimbursable Capital Investment will be owned and depreciated by the amusement operator.

-In 2011, Sodexo will pay CAI a flat rental fee of $225,000, which means the City’s 15% cut will be $33,750. Pocket change! Beginning in 2012, Sodexo will pay a fee based on the prior year’s net sales. For example, if the prior year net sales are $2.7 million, then Sodexo would pay a flat rental fee of $432,000, or 16% of the net sales.

–CAI gets to decide whether Sodexo will have the option of operating “Branded Concepts” in the park. According to the contract, the term refers to “food and beverage systems operated by Sodexo through national and regional third party license agreements or franchise agreements or through Sodexo’s own in-house trademarked brands.” As ATZ reported in January, Sodexo is known for its cafeterias and individually branded restaurants, but nationally branded subtenants are also brought in under franchising or licensing agreements for the appearance of variety. Branded Concepts frequently mentioned in Sodexo’s ads are Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Sub Connections and Panera Bread.

—Luna Park cannot require Sodexo to use products from “non-Sodexo approved vendors” and suppliers. As we reported previously, Sodexo has a completely centralized purchasing system, which requires clients to choose from a list of “Right Products.” Another term used internally by Sodexo is “Compliant.” Vendors who offer rebates are “compliant” while those that do not are “locked out,” according to investigative reporter Lucy Komisar in “Cafeteria Kickbacks: How food-service providers like Sodexo bilk millions from taxpayers and customers.” Last July, then-Attorney General Cuomo issued a press release announcing “a $20 million settlement with food services provider Sodexo for overcharging 21 New York school districts as well as the SUNY system.”

–Sodexo is an independent contractor and has its own employees. The lease contains more than a dozen clauses to insure compliance with non discrimination and affirmative action policies as well as City programs such as Minority and Women Business Owned Enterprises. According to NPR, Sodexo executives say they are trying to create a more diverse workplace after settling an $80 million class action discrimination lawsuit brought by African-American employees in 2006.

–After 3 years, either party is free to terminate the lease. If the agreement is terminated by Sodexo for convenience or by CAI for cause, at the end of the third year CAI would have to reimburse the remaining unamortized value of the Reimbursable Initial Capital Investment ($1.432 million) over a three year period, payable on a monthly basis, with interest accruing at the prime rate in the Wall Street Journal plus 2%.

CAI’s Luna Park and soon-to-open Scream Zone are on City-owned land in Coney Island purchased from Thor Equities for $95 million and leased to the amusement operator for ten years. As the Sodexo sublease makes clear, CAI has a pretty sweet deal too. Their base rent is $100,000 annually plus a small percentage of the gross receipts. For example, ten percent of gross receipts over $7 million.

However, Central Amusements is also investing nearly $30 million in building and operating the park. 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.”

Sodexo, which is the 21st largest corporation in the world, has a market value of 7.7 billion euros ($10.59 billion). The French food and facilities management giant has been CAI’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions” since Luna Park opened last May, though the partnership was not announced by the City or CAI. Sodexo’s presence was known only within Coney Island until ATZ first reported the news in November after the Boardwalk businesses received eviction notices on November 1st, the day after the 2010 season ended.

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 31, 2013: Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out

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

January 20, 2011: Sodexo Investing $2.4M in Zamperla’s Coney Island

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

Read Full Post »

Under construction

Under Construction: Sodexo Restaurant on Surf at 10th St, Coney Island. December 23, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

The French multinational Sodexo is investing $2.4 million in Zamperla’s Coney Island and has an exclusive contract to manage the food and facilities for the City’s amusement operator, sources told ATZ.

Sodexo has been Zamperla’s partner for “On Site Service Solutions” since Luna Park opened last May, though the partnership was not announced by the City and was known only within Coney Island until ATZ first reported it in November.

This season, Sodexo will operate food and beverage kiosks in the new Scream Zone in addition to Luna Park. The corporation, which is the 22nd largest in the world, also plans to open up their own restaurants at Paul’s Daughter’s Boardwalk location and the former Gregory & Paul’s on Surf Avenue across from the Cyclone. As previously reported last month, the Surf Ave restaurant is currently under construction.

Luna Park

Rendering of Luna Park's Main Gate Shows Luna Park Cafe on the Left Side

ATZ obtained a copy of Zamperla/CAI’s proposal to the City which describes the Surf Avenue restaurant. The decor sounds a bit like Ruby’s and the Coney Island History Project: “The Luna Park Café pays tribute to the long history of Coney Island with memorabilia and tributes from local residents and visitors from around the world. This unique environment provides the backdrop for quick service prepared-to-order meals. The menu will be designed to provide a more balanced meal option for visitors looking for a complete meal and will be a venue where ‘healthier’ alternatives can be found. Potentially a year round venue, the Luna Park Café will also serve as the primary point of food service for all team members where an employee discount will be available.”

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The proposal goes on to say that more extreme foods will be featured inside Scream Zone. “With thrill rides comes thrilling food and beverages which will use elements of spice, exotic-flavors, irregular sizes, and ‘u-decide’ the ingredient items where guests can challenge their imaginations. A kiosk-type portable network, as previously described, will be looked upon to enter this phase of the operation. A heavy emphasis will be placed on the design of each location to assimilate into easy accessibility from each attraction. This service plan provides the flexibility needed to keep Scream Zone evolving. A final count of locations has not been determined at this time but a similar strategy as used for Luna Park Phase I will be applied.”

Scream Zone

Banner for future Scream Zone. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In regard to the Boardwalk concessions in 2011, Zamperla’s proposal says they “will be combined and integrated into the food and beverage operations of Luna Park and Scream Zone. This is an important step in the presentation of Luna Park and Scream Zone from their beach points of entry. Structures would be improved and remodeled to mesh with the aesthetics of the respective parks. To be successful within the food and beverage part of the operation, this plan will constantly be reviewed and modifications made annually. New product development will always be looked upon, as well as the demands of the guests as ways to improve.”

Sodexo is known for its cafeterias and individually branded restaurants, but nationally branded subtenants are also brought in under franchising or licensing agreements for the appearance of variety. Whether the Sodexo client is a college, school, hospital, government, corporation or leisure destination, one constant is Sodexo’s completely centralized purchasing system, which requires clients to choose from a list of “Right Products.” Another term used internally by Sodexo is “Compliant.” Vendors who offer rebates are “compliant” while those that do not are “locked out,” according to investigative reporter Lucy Komisar in “Cafeteria Kickbacks: How food-service providers like Sodexo bilk millions from taxpayers and customers.” Last July, Attorney General Cuomo announced “a $20 million settlement with food services provider Sodexo for overcharging 21 New York school districts as well as the SUNY system.”

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

With just 88 days till the opening of Coney Island for the season on Palm Sunday –April 17, 2011– Zamperla’s Central Amusement International is locked in an ugly eviction battle with the Coney Island 8. The veteran Mom & Pops, including Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, which have been Boardwalk favorites for decades, hope to remain. The Coney Island 8’s website claims, “Inside information suggests that Sodexo did not want to deal with The Coney Island 8 and therefore would not accept the contract with Zamperla without full control over all the food establishments.”

Sources familiar with Zamperla’s situation don’t expect the amusement operator to agree to any settlement that would allow the Coney Island 8 to remain on the Boardwalk since plans to make over the Boardwalk are well underway. Zamperla and Sodexo are said to be bringing in new businesses which have submitted letters of intent and now have leases in hand. Some of the newcomers have already gone in and measured the spaces or received the architect’s plans. Insiders characterize the Boardwalk makeover as a done deal. The next court date is February 16, just 60 days before Coney Island’s opening day. But it’s possible a settlement will be reached before then. A settlement would at least compensate the Coney Island 8 for the costs of those very unnecessary “business plans” and help them relocate in Coney or elsewhere.

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 31, 2013: Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out

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 23, 2010: Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions”

Read Full Post »

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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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Under Construction:  Restaurant at Surf Ave and 10th Street in Luna Park. November 24, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57

Under Construction: Restaurant at Surf Ave and 10th Street in Luna Park. November 24, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57

At the corner of Surf Avenue and 10th Street in Coney Island, construction workers have been emptying rubble into a dumpster and digging up the street. It doesn’t look like much now, but by next season a $1.4 million sit-down restaurant with a view of the Cyclone roller coaster will be open for business.

As ATZ reported last week, the new restaurant will be run by Luna Park’s partner Sodexo, one of the largest food and facilities management companies in the world. Luna Park CEO Valerio Ferrari told ATZ that $1.4 million is being invested in the restaurant, which will be open year-round and feature waiter service and a variety of food.

Unlike the Sodexo-run restaurants set to take over what Ferrari described as “some but not all” of the Boardwalk businesses, this location is not controversial since the property was already vacant. Gregory & Paul’s Surf Avenue eatery closed after Thor Equities booted out Astroland two years ago. What’s controversial is corporate giant Sodexo’s highly unpublicized partnership with Luna Park Coney Island, which is itself a public private partnership with the City of New York. Why didn’t the NYCEDC issue a press release in May?

Since ATZ broke the news in Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions” (November 23, 2010), readers have emailed us links to articles about everything from high prices in Sodexo-run college cafeterias in New York and New Jersey to the Washington Post’s “D” grade for the Sodexo-run cafeteria at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The most notable link is a press release from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in July announcing “a $20 million settlement with food services provider Sodexo for overcharging 21 New York school districts as well as the SUNY system…” Said Cuomo, “This company cut sweetheart deals with suppliers and then denied taxpayer-supported schools the benefits. The state and federal regulations regarding such contracts exist to protect taxpayers, and I thank the whistleblowers for having the courage to bring this to our attention.”

Paul's Daughter on Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Forty Year Old Business Being Replaced by Sodexo: Paul's Daughter on Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

New York Magazine’s Grub Street asked “Could a 40-Year-Old Coney Institution Be Replaced By a Corporate Cafeteria Giant?” Yes, according to Ferrari, Sodexo is expected to take over the Boardwalk outpost of G & P’s, now called Paul’s Daughter, so it looks like it will indeed be Goodbye to My Coney Island Equivalent of Proust’s Madeleine, barring a reprieve by a judge or the Mayor. Merde alors.

Our readers were equally unenthusiastic about a French multinational best known for running cafeterias for schools, corporations, hospitals, prisons and the military taking over the food operation at the People’s Playground and pushing out the indigenous Mom and Pops. “Sodexo was sub-contracted to handle all food & beverage services at the Fortune 50 corporation that I used to work for,” commented one of our readers. “In a nutshell, it is sterile, soul-less, generic food and beverage service.”

But that’s not why ATZ is unlikely to become a regular patron of the new Sodexo restaurant. As someone who works in Coney Island, we simply don’t have time or money to wait on line with the tourists. When we’re on the job, we brown bag it or a few of us will order from reasonably priced neighborhood places like Classic Heros and Pizza on the Run, which are just outside the amusement area. The prices at Luna Park’s Sodexo kiosks were on the high side for Coney Island. $5.00 plus tax for a cup of watermelon that could be bought for a couple of bucks from a vendor just down the block. $2.50 plus tax for a 20 ounce bottle of water which cost $2.00 in a vending machine across the street. Who’s pocketing the extra quarters and dollars?

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sodexo Kiosk at Luna Park Coney Island. May 31, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ask New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, the secretive, quasi-governmental entity that is the City’s vehicle for promoting economic growth. It is the NYCEDC that made the 10-year contract with Zamperla for $100,000 annual rent plus a reported 10% of the gross in the first year of operation and pulls their strings like a puppeteer.

Interestingly, an Associated Press article about the eviction of the Boardwalk businesses misreported that the company is “paying the city $1 million plus part of gross receipts.” We got a laugh out of that, but the reporter can be forgiven for thinking the correct $100K figure was so paltry as to be a typo. To put this number in perspective, consider that Boardwalk businesses like Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s have been paying $100,000 annual rent in recent years. As for Luna Park’s second year of operation, including who stands to earn what from the Boardwalk leases and Sodexo’s cut, neither the NYCEDC nor Zamperla is saying, despite ATZ’s repeated requests.

Last year when the Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP was issued, NYCEDC disclosed to potential bidders that “While we cannot share information on individual licenses at this time, we can report that in the past, the gross potential rent for the Boardwalk tenants was approximately $750,000 to $900,000.” Considering that the property is City-owned and was purchased with $95.6 million of public funds, do you think this information is proprietary or public? We’ll let you know when we receive the results of our Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

UPDATE March 31, 2013:

Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out. Sodexo’s departure had long been rumored and is something to cheer about. According to the partnership agreement, after 3 years either party was free to terminate the lease, with CAI having to reimburse the remaining value of Sodexo’s initial investment, with interest.

CIDC Map of the Coney Island Amusement Operator Sites.  Credit: Coney Island Development Corporation

CIDC Map of the Coney Island Amusement Operator Sites. Credit: Coney Island Development Corporation

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 31, 2013: Surf’s Up for CAI Foods in Coney Island, Sodexo Is Out

November 23, 2010: Meet Sodexo: Luna Park Coney Island’s Partner for “On-Site Service Solutions”

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

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

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