Southern Brooklyn

Coney Island Attracting Fancy New Businesses And Chains

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After Superstorm Sandy devastated Coney Island, the  effort to rebuild the beachfront and the boardwalk has led to a slew of businesses planting their flag on the cleaned up shoreline. The New York Daily News is reporting on the increased corporate presence on Coney Island that is hoping to transform the area into an economic goldmine.

Previously, we reported on the arrival of Applebee’s to Coney Island and the boast from CEO Zane Tankel:

“Imagine sitting above the excitement of Surf Avenue, watching the comings and goings on the infamous Coney Island Boardwalk while dining on Applebee’s signature favorites,” Tankel said in a release.

Outside of Applebee’s, which is about as hip as a root canal, other establishments like candy chain “It’Sugar,” which sells a $40 five-pound gummy bear, are popping up as well. If you buy the five-pound gummy bear, I’d watch out for bees. Not the gummy kind.

In 2014, the Johnny Rockets diner chain will be moving to Coney along with a Red Mango frozen yogurt shop. The Brooklyn Nets have also opened their own athletic sports store featuring $85 bikinis brandishing the new basketball team’s logo on the tops and bottoms. Next to the Nets shop, the Bridgehampton-based Wampum skate shop will be selling fashionable clothing and expensive skate boards for more than $200.

Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project, proclaimed that Coney Island has become the hot new real estate location in the city.

“Speculation has returned to Coney Island. It is the Gold Rush mentality,” Denson told the Daily News.

As for fears that the new corporate footprint will drive out the proud mom-and-pop stores still dotting the boardwalk, local business owners seemed not to worry.

 “It’s Coney Island. As long as it’s sunny, everyone is making money,” said Peter Agrapides Jr., whose popular Williams Candy Shoppe is known for scrumptious, guilty pleasures like the candy-covered marshmallows in its window.

“There is plenty of money for everybody,” Agrapides added. “You just have to know what you are doing.”

Only time will tell if the effort to increase the profitability and tourist friendliness of Coney Island will be sustainable but with the beach and boardwalk looking immaculate these days, it’s hard to bet against it.

Comment policy


  1. You can feel the lifeblood drain away from Coney Island. It’s starting to sound like what W 8th St has become. What South Street in Philly is like. Times Square of today. Corporate chain soulless slop food.

    How horrible. How utterly horrible.

  2. This thing against “chains” and “corporate interests” is just bullcrap. Listen, nobody wants all of coney island turned into a series of mcdonalds and applebees. But to hear people “against Applebees”? Well, that means they’re in favor of the empty, rat-infested building that has existed there for at least 30 years. You’d rather have nothing there? That’s taking politics a bit too far.

    There’s so much damned empty real-estate in Coney Island that the whole argument is so silly. Coney needs to keep building up. Mom&Pop shops alone didn’t do it in the 80’s. See the movie “The Warriors” (1979) to see what Coney looked like then, and what people thought of it. That was the Coney of pure “Mom-and-Pop” shops. Nobody came to Coney, even in the height of summer. The boardwalk was empty.

    Fact is, these big “chains” provide stability. They stay. Mom-and-pop shops may stay, they may not. Mr. Cha-Cha, as he is called, had his restaurant on Surf for exactly one season. He had his amusement area for exactly one season on Stillwell.

    Besides, what constitutes a “chain” or a “corporate interest”? It’s Sugar has several locations around the country. Is it large enough to be a “corporate interest”? I don’t know. Besides, i’ll bet 90% of the people who see the store don’t know it’s a “chain”. Do they care? Should they care? Why? I don’t care. What about Grimaldi’s. There’s several of them in the tri-state area, i don’t know, about 7. Have they passed the magic line of becoming a “chain”? Who the freak cares, besides those who have to inject their religion of political thought into absolutely everything.

    Let’s just get Coney thriving, and leave the dumb politics aside. It’s important for coney, and for surrounding neighborhoods, including Sheepshead Bay, and for the city as a whole. It’s definitely moving in the right direction.

  3. I just want to add that, for example, there’s plenty of room for ItsSugar and Williams Candy to exist. Been going to Williams longer than most reading this have been alive, and it’s still great, and ItsSugar is a welcome addition, selling mostly totally different candy from Williams. May they both last an eternity. There’s no reason to pick sides.

  4. West 8th Street? That had the seeds 40 years ago when hippie chic became marketable. Times Square has always been commercial, today is both commercial and ugly. I haven’t been to been Philly for years, but when I was there last the seeds of gentrifying were taking hold.

    Every place is to be like every place else, with a few nods to local identity just for marketing’s sake.

  5. i think the crowds disagree. Besides, there’s plenty of new stuff: place to beach, Tom’s diner, Coney Island Bar & Grill, new games on Jones Alley. Plenty of Mom&Pop stuff building.

  6. Times Square? The old Times Square was fearful. One didn’t walk there at night, unless you wanted to frequent the multiple xxx porn shops that inhabited the strip, or score some drugs. I agree with you on West 8th Street and St. Marks Place, though, it lost its identity. I don’t think Coney is in danger of suffering that fate. The boardwalk businesses were rebuilt( with the addition of Place To Beach and Tom’s Diner), the amusements are doing fabulously (if the f***king weather would improve), and even the Child’s building will now undergo renewal.

  7. The old Times Square was ruined not by empty storefronts, but by some crazed idea that if we ignored the crime if would just go away. True, 42nd between 6th and 8th was a horror of seedy businesses that killed off the profitability of long time retailers that catered not only to tourists, but resident New Yorkers as well.

    The old Times Square had numerous unique businesses. Some were victims of changing times. Others were forced out by the greed of real estate interests.

    The new Times Square is a place that is not New York anymore. It is Tokyo. Which is fine for Japan but should not have been allowed to happen here. It hurts the eyes at night. It totally devastates our synesthesia. It’s a actualization of our worst tendencies in design and concept.

    Coney Island was experiencing a decline way before it became a magnet for crime. In the 50 and 60s people wanted the “new”, and Coney was “antiquated”. The decision of city officials to let Coney die (Robert Moses hated the place) fed the process.

    For numerous years plans to revive Coney Island were repressed by the politicians. Had they not interfered Coney Island would have been revived years ago, and perhaps in a manner more respectful of its roots.

    The midways of Coney Island, always the most interesting part, are under attack now. The small businesses there to be replaced by the sameness of chain operators.

    To be realistic, there have always been chains in Coney Island. But the chains were integrated into the environment in ways that elevated Coney, rather than trivialized it. The two Child restaurants, one that is part of the current revitalization, the other a victim of it, are examples of how chains can integrate into Coney Island in a fitting manner.

  8. “greed of real estate interests.” – or in other words, by the free market’s supply/demand forces.

  9. If “free market supply/demand forces” affect economy adversely, then they need to be controlled.

    That was what happened in the Time Square area to some degree.

  10. How could satisfying a demand affect economy adversely? You are not suggesting that the government should be stepping in between two private parties attempting to do legitimate business, are you?

  11. 5 Guys Burgers & Fries was supposed to open on Stillwell inside the new train station last year. I wonder why that fell through! BRING 5 GUYS TO SOUTH BROOKLYN!

  12. So you’re saying that Madison and the rest of the individuals that wrote the constitution, as well as those who subsequently used it to protect the rights and general well being of the people are communists.

    Playing the Communist card in this instance is rather absurd.

  13. “Madison and the rest of the individuals that wrote the constitution” – were for central planning? Really?Playing the you-played-the-communist-card in this instance is rather absurd.

  14. We call that the Federal system of government. The Federal Government gets to design the general scheme of things, and the states can amplify those definitions.

    Business is not supposed to have primacy over individuals.

  15. Coney Island sounds more specific than general, no? As for business – let the individuals decide its existence by voting with their $.

    Besides, I find this comment rather interesting “For numerous years plans to revive Coney Island were repressed by the politicians. Had they not interfered Coney Island would have been revived years ago” – sounds like we are in an agreement?

  16. Specifics are how the general are applied and interpreted.

    In the event that you haven’t been paying close enough attention, it is the government that is playing the larger role in the “redevelopment” of Coney Island. They have written up a long term plan, and have become the owner of part of the area under the purview of that document, and its subsequent revisions.

    Earlier plans that were submitted for approval were put forward both by individuals as well as community groups. What they had in common was an understanding of what Coney Island is. These plans sought to expand upon what was there, rather than destroy and build over the carnage.

  17. “what Coney Island is” – is? Or was? Let the current residents vote in the new businesses with their $, instead of having government bureaucrats, who probably don’t even live in the area and are not impacted by their proposed policies, make it into their own pet project.

  18. Not politics. Culture. These places have no culture. They contribute nothing to the identity of Coney Island. They only contribute to safe boring Middle America. Which is for the birds if you’re a New Yorker.

    Yes yes free enterprise what the market wants the market will bear etc etc etc. And the working class natives of southern Brooklyn love these chains (the Applebees on Emmons has valet parking ferchrisakes). It’s just a personal cultural pity is all I’m saying.

    What would be nice and ideal (and won’t happen and I understand that) is you get these economy-boosting soul suckers to satisfy the hoi polloi, you get the effete, snooty hipstery, yuppie shops, AND you keep a lot of the original flavor and history of Coney Island. But the last bit is going, going, will be gone.

    Just a shame is all.

  19. Coney Island is an amazing piece of real estate occupied by SOME (NOT ALL) of the filthiest, degenerate and classless people in Brooklyn. Starting from Luna Park housing all the way to West 36th street. Half of the residence who live there are mooching off government programs (sect 8, welfare, etc) while they hang out in the parks and smoke blunts in their band new Air Jordans.

    Hardworking families in CI suffer the most because they pour their blood and sweat to raise families only to be surrounded by gangs, crackheads and criminals. No matter what stores come to here, they will have to beef up security tighter than Fort Knox. I can only imagine the looting that can/will occur when another blackout happens. Last year during sandy, CI was looted by the same people who shop in those stores.

    Any corporate businesses that come there will be a MAJOR improvement to the filth already there.

  20. No. It’s government picking winners and losers. First of all, they lack the talent to effectively do so. Why the automatic assumption that govt “gets it right”. i quite suggest otherwise, and history is constant living proof. Second, corruption is ensured. Third, I’m sure when you don’t like the winners selected, there’s a quite different opinion.

  21. The economy worked pretty well under free market conditions. That’s the history I see. The greatest economy the world had ever seen, by far. No country in history has even come close. What history are you looking at? Now, we do much less well with the huge government. And the bigger government gets, the statistics will show higher unemployment and lower GDP gains. That’s history in the present, and the unfortunate future.

    This concept that a huge government can be benevolent and do all the right things for the people is so incredibly dangerous. Will lead to dicatorship. Our forefathers knew this, but our present fathers (or should I say Big Brother) do not. I can’t believe so many have bought into this. This recent revelation that the government is doing EXTREME spying on its people is just the beginning. And this is under a liberal president!

    By the way, quoting Abe Lincoln was very not apropos. Perhaps another great force in history should have been quoted: “dictatorship of the proletariat”….

  22. I think you’re seeing exactly that. more chains, and more hipster places and more mompoop shops

  23. Coney Island hasn’t had culture for years. It became a crime infested, graffiti covered, run down area, that was depressing as hell to visit. Any change is a good change. Also the jobs created by all of these new businesses, and the tax revenue can only be for the good.

  24. “Fact is, these big “chains” provide stability. They stay. Mom-and-pop shops may stay, they may not.”

    Look at Rockaway around Beach 116th Street after Sandy. The chains bailed and left behind eyesores (actually, they were always eyesores, now just more so), while Mom and Pop stores are doing their best to rebuild.


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