Gettin’ hammered: Peggy O’Neill’s will be renovated into a beer garden

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Talk about a face lift!

Coney Island mainstay Peggy O’Neill’s will reopen in May as a beer garden called Steeplechase Beer Garden that will feature memorabilia from the now-gone amusement mecca — including the creepy “funny face” that park owner George C. Tilyou cooked up and which is still a Coney icon. And that won’t be the only local flavor — they’ll be brewing beer made with hops grown right in the beer garden, the owner said.

“We’ll have multiple varieties of hops — 36 plants in all — growing on trellises outside, and come October each year, we’ll harvest them, make some beer out of them, and serve it at the bar,” said James Quigley, who is no stranger to beer-making. “I grew some on my roof last year and made beer, and it was great.”

Until then, Quigley will serve a dozen other, mostly-local brews, including suds from Coney Island Brewery — which has a brewery right next door — and Brooklyn Brewery.Steeplechase Beer Garden will pay homage to its namesake park and Coney Island’s amusement mastermind Tilyou. Photos of iconic rides and attractions at Steeplechase Park, which once stood where Peggy O’Neill’s and MCU Park are now, will adorn the interior alongside People’s Playground-themed artwork.

Quigley is working with artists to tweak Tilyou’s unmistakable “funny face” logo for the bar, and he plans to sell Steeplechase-themed memorabilia including T-shirts, beer coozies, and beer glasses, he said.

The entrepreneur and pour-man is drawing inspiration from the People’s Playground’s biggest business man, he said.

“We’re focused on channeling the life of George C. Tilyou,” Quigley said. “He was the greatest entrepreneur of Coney Island, and he was all about the experience — the Coney Island experience,” according to Quigley, who said he will channel that experience with live entertainment, an arcade, and outdoor bar games such as bar game cornhole.

The beer will not be the only local fare either — Quigley will source local ingredients for a new, significantly upgraded menu, he said. New grub will include bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches with lobster, house-made bacon on a stick, hot dogs, and bratwurst, he said.

The news was first reported by the Coney Island Blog.Quigley said he has wanted to open a beer garden since he visited some during a trip to Germany shortly after opening Peggy O’Neill’s in 2002. But now that Coney is experiencing a renaissance — major landmarks are under renovation, the city is expanding the amusement district, and local pols have been holding more festivals there — Quigley is anticipating more tourists with a more discerning palette, he said.

“As Coney Island is getting a new face, its time for our business as well,” he said. “Customer tastes have changed and bottles of Budweiser and Coors Light doesn’t cut it anymore.”April 30 is the last day to say goodbye to dear old Peggy O’Neills.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
I hope they know that their hop vines will be anemic the first year, and produce better after the second year.
March 29, 2016, 10:04 am
Mercedes says:
Will it still look like a garage? Will the same awful bands still play?
March 29, 2016, 10:16 am
Michael from Brooklyn says:
Hey! I love garage bands! Sounds great! Bring it on!
March 29, 2016, 12:52 pm
Simmi from Coney island says:
I guest its basically not for minoritys that live in Coney island smfh
March 29, 2016, 12:59 pm
Simmi from Coney island says:
I guest its basically not for minoritys that live in Coney island smfh
March 29, 2016, 12:59 pm
tyler from pps says:
Simmi -- What's your reasoning for that?
March 29, 2016, 1:21 pm
Mercedes says:
I love garage bands too, Michael. These are prom bands playing in what looks like a only slightly renovated service station.
March 30, 2016, 11:37 am
james from Coney Island says:
People of all stripes like bands. Just because you don't, does not mean people do like hearing bands.
March 31, 2016, 4:25 pm
Karen from Brooklyn says:
There best night is the FDNY Cyclone Night.
This year it is on Friday July 15th.
Q104.3 does a live show before the game and there is a great party after.
My girlfriends and I go every year to meet Hot firemen.
Good Luck to the Steeplechase Beer Garden!
April 23, 2016, 3:06 pm
me from coney island says:
yes we love johnny guitar he plays all n gives out candy n toys the best
May 1, 2016, 6:41 am

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