Boardwalk dives offered new leases — if they clean up

The Brooklyn Paper
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Old-school Boardwalk businesses that are facing eviction can stay open for eight more years — if they agree to get rid of their honky-tonk charm and turn themselves into upscale eateries — under a deal being offered by their landlord.

Central Amusement, the company that controls the leases along the city-owned beachfront, is negotiating new deals that require the owners of old-time businesses — including Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter — to spend more than $100,000 each to clean up their acts if the Depression-era dives are to remain on the Boardwalk through 2019.

And the old-school owners may not be willing to bite.

“Ruby’s is in negotiations to come back, but right now it’s a coin toss,” said a source close to the negotiations, who asked remain anonymous.

The bars are being asked to spend several hundred thousand dollars on renovations, including hardwood floors and a fleet of flat-screen TVs — a move that would rip the rag-tag carney atmosphere out of places like the 77-year-old Ruby’s, which is beloved by the Coney faithful for its aging decor and honky-tonk feel.

Such a transformation would run the risk of alienating regulars who go there for cheap drinks, salty conversation and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. Still, the source said Ruby’s may be willing to pay for the face-lift even though it would drastically change the style of the bar.

“The place would look more like the 2000’s, not the 1800’s,” the source said.

Central Amusement was planning to replace the two bars and five other Boardwalk shops — including Cha Cha’s and Beer Island — with a upscale eateries, but dropped plans after a Miami-based restaurant group that planned to put in fancier dining spots in the storefronts backed out earlier this month over concerns that it would not generate enough money, sources said.

That group opened Coney Cones on the Boardwalk in July to test the financial waters of the Boardwalk, but was disappointed in sales at the ice cream parlor this summer, according to several people familiar with the situation.

The news that the old bars could be spared was first reported in our sister publication, the New York Post.

If all the sides do broker deals, it would be the second time in 12 months Central Amusement’s plans to evict the so-called “Boardwalk Eight” has failed. Last year, seven of the longtime businesses forced Central Amusment’s hand when they sued the company to keep their spaces. Two establishments brokered a deal to stay open this Monday.

The eighth business, a popular carnival game called “Shoot the Freak,” was bulldozed before the agreement was reached in March.

Coney stakeholders were stunned by Central Amusement’s decision to give some of the shops a new lease on life.

“I’m taken totally by surprise,” said Dick Zigun, Coney’s chief booster and the man behind Sideshows by the Seashore. “I didn’t think they would change their plans.”

A spokesman for Central Amusement did not return calls seeing comment.

If negotiations fall through, Boardwalk loyalists can still expect a raucous send-off at Ruby’s, which hosted a similar “farewell” party last year, when the bar thought it was about to close, on Oct. 29.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at or by calling (718) 260-8310.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rob from Greenpoint says:
What nonsense; spend a small fortune to rip out any
character and atmosphere and turn the place into the
soulless equivalent of a Cemusa newsstand.
And what's with the flat screen tvs?
Oct. 21, 2011, 8:26 am
sal from coney island says:
Central Amusements ambitions to turn Coney Island into a year-round amusement resort is a total BUST.
The only one to make out good in Coney Island was JOE SITT & Thor Equities. They with the help of Joe Sitt's friend Councilman Domenic Recchia took the City & the Mayor like Grant took Richmond.
Millions over paid for the land with taxpayer monies. Again the 1% trumped the 99%.
Oct. 21, 2011, 8:54 am
John from Brooklyn says:
Coney island is the most depressing place in New York. I welcome any and all change and it couldn't possibly be any worse
Oct. 21, 2011, 10:26 am
johnny boy from windsor terrace says:
they should bring back shoot the geek, markowitz could use the job.
Oct. 21, 2011, 10:46 am
Mike from Bay Ridge says:
Looks like they want to Disneyfy Coney Island the way they did Times Square. But unlike the center of Manhattan, I don't see people travelling all the way the the beach in winter. For what? To look at rides they can't go on, stroll on boardwalks covered with snow and ice and stare at an ocean they can't swim in? At least in Atlantic City you can hole up in a casino and gamble your pension away while being served free drinks and all you can eat buffet.
Oct. 21, 2011, 2:03 pm
UmadBro? from wat says:
Coney Island is a dump. I hope they redevelope the entire area and the locals get priced out. This is best thing to happen to the area within the last 50 years.
Oct. 21, 2011, 2:41 pm
Jen from Clinton Hill says:
Who would want to move into Coney Island if they did price out the locals? Families from Park Slope? It would be fantastic if the people from Snob Slope would move their kiddies closer to the beach and family friendly rides. They could take strollers into the bars. Well, when the nannies are at the Co-op working the family shift. I just wonder if the nannies would still have to work shifts at the Co-op if they did move? They could just move the Co-op.
Oct. 21, 2011, 3:56 pm
Blue from CI says:
Time to redevelop Surf Ave with a year round retail and entertainment development. Bring the off season activity towards the heart of Coney @Stillwell and Surf Ave.
Oct. 21, 2011, 7:37 pm
nancy from coney says:
nothing ladidashish is gonna work in coney its a honky tonk dive bar place people wanna come off the beach and walk in2 a place not go home dress up and come back. you cant put stuff down there thats upscale wont work not many peopleare gonna hang out there in the winter i know that for a fact and i aggreee that the place should be fixedup it kinda looks hoboish they certainly make enough money off all the tourist and regulars that can can fix it up.the only reason they didnt move 2 make any improvements luna parks people cause they know we dont have the money 2 spend and deevelopers know that, and i diagree with whoever says coney is a dump the only problem i have with coney is t hat you have people that come down there that act like asses and arer rude and digusting they act like jerks and ruin peoples good times but thats a small group get ur acts together people gage ur behavior
Oct. 22, 2011, 8:22 am
Dock Oscar from Puke Slop says:
Coney is already a lot nicer than it used to me. Let's leave a little grit or sand in yr shoes. Why don't we knock down the Cyclone too? Pretty soon NYC will look like any other city...interchangeable. Why does everyone want NYC to be just like the burbs?
Oct. 22, 2011, 1:44 pm
The news is incorrect. None of the storefront in Coney Island have been offered a lease. Some didn't even know that the news had reported such lease until patrons mentioned it yesterday, This is all a propaganda by the owners of Luna/Scream Park to make it look like they are offering leales. Coney Island 7 are still schedule to close forever by the end of the month.
Oct. 23, 2011, 11:39 am

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