What a gem! Coney bar Ruby’s marks 80 years

The Brooklyn Paper
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Call it a Ruby Jubilee.

Coney Island mainstay Ruby’s Bar and Grill celebrated 80 years of getting sailors sloppy at 1215 Boardwalk West on Aug. 9. The party drew locals and Ruby’s stalwarts from across the metropolitan area, said proprietor Michael Sarrel.

“It was a big success,” Sarrel said. “People who moved and haven’t been to the bar in years heard about the anniversary and showed up.”

Indeed, folks came from far and wide to pay homage.

“It’s an institution. We had to come,” said Colleen Killen, who travelled more than 30 miles from New Jersey for the occasion.

Hundreds of people filed in and out over the course of the day, getting a chance to admire the photos of old Coney Island that plaster the walls and take a drink beneath a piece of the original Boardwalk, which hangs above the bar.

Mistress of Ceremonies and Sideshow by the Seashore burlesque performer Dr. Lucky led a dance party and a trivia contest in front of the bar, doling out prizes to lucky drinkers.

“We gave away a lot of shirts that day,” Sarrel said.

Namesake and former owner Ruby Jacobs bought the site — previously the Hebrew National Deli and Bar, which opened in 1934 — back in 1975. When Jacobs passed away in 2000, the bar went to his daughters, said Sarrel, who is married to Jacobs’s daughter Melody. The bar underwent a major renovation in 2012 following a brush with annihilation when the amusement district’s overlords, Central Amusements, declined to renew the leases of nine longtime Boardwalk tenants.

But with a new look and six years left on the current lease, Ruby’s is in it for the long haul, Sarrel said.

“One woman told me she used to come as a kid and her parents would buy her a snack while they sat at the bar,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard that story. We’re hoping to keep the bar alive for another 80 years so our children and our children’s children can enjoy it.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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