Assuming Hurricane Irene didn't suck Zamperla out to sea, there's not much time left to say goodbye to Coney Island as we've long known it.
We all know the devastation that is coming after this summer. The company that Bloomberg has handed this city treasure over to has a vision to make the place "refined, cleaner...with sit-down restaurants and sports bars." And so everything on the boardwalk, except Nathan's and Lola Star, will be bulldozed. They want to turn it into a place where you can "sit in nice comfortable chairs and have a nice cappuccino or ice coffee."
Sitting down is key. So is niceness. "Nice" is an epidemic that's killing the city. What will "nice" look like at Coney? It's already arrived.
We've got a good idea of what's to come thanks to the new Luna Park's Cyclone Cafe. It looks like it was born from a plastics extruder, a cookie-cutter design with none of the joyful messiness of Coney's traditional snack bars with their hand-written signs and paintings of food--vivid corn dogs, clams, and funnel cakes.
What do they serve at the Cyclone Cafe? Salads. Farmer's Market salads. Who goes to Coney Island for a salad? I don't go out there for "healthy dining." I go free of such burdens. I go for fried and salty evils. For glorious amusement-park junk. And certainly not for an "Over the Top Salad Experience."
And guess what else you can get at the Cyclone Cafe. Starbucks coffee. That's right--the Cyclone Cafe "proudly" brews it, just for you. Isn't that nice?
The same people have also brought Coney's Cones to the boardwalk. As you can see, this means more salads, along with panini and gourmet coffee. "Gourmet"? Don't they know the new code word for nice is "artisanal"?
To make room for the Cyclone Cafe, that paragon of lifelessness, we lost two treasures--Gregory & Paul's snack bar and the Bonanza Shooting Gallery.
2008, silversalty's flickr
The Gregory & Paul's was sold and its contents auctioned off in 2009. It was a delightful cacophony of hand-painted signs and artifacts from its over 40 years in business.
Still remaining on the boardwalk, but not for long, is Paul's Daughter, formerly the other Gregory & Paul's. Zamperla is giving them the boot, too. They've been there since 1962. Said Paul's daughter to Amusing the Zillion, "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." Instead, the spot is going to a multinational corporation.
2006, ConeyHOP's flickr
I don't know how long the Bonanza Shooting Gallery was here, but I'd guess since the 1960s. I absolutely loved it. It was typically my first destination when arriving at Coney Island.
What happened to all the great stuff they had in the shooting gallery? The saloon piano player who tickled the ivories when you shot him the ass, the bear that stood up and roared, the chickens that clucked in their cage? We can hope it was recycled, sold off to another amusement park, and that someone, somewhere is still enjoying it--now that we can't anymore.
But, hey, at least we've got some nice salads.