One Last Summer from Derin Thorpe on Vimeo.
The property of Coney Island mainstay Paul's Daughter, as well as many of the surrounding shops, has been purchased by the city and leased to the foreign operator Zamperla. In this beautifully shot mini-documentary from last summer, we meet the beloved Paul "Chief" Georgoulakos, the owner of the 49-year-old (now 50-year-old) Coney Island boardwalk eatery as he, his family, his crew, and other boardwalk straphangers wax nostalgic in the days before the final hot dog is slung and the last fry fried. Things get sad at the 17:30 mark, but [SPOILER ALERT] there is a happy ending: Paul and his cohorts do indeed get many more summers after all of this.
Employing hundreds of workers and serving hundreds of people through the years, Paul staked his reputation in being tough but fair, and always kind. His employees love him and many have been working there almost as long as he. None are more charming, however, then Paul's young grandson. "I like the signs, I like the people, I like the atmosphere, I like working with Papouli," he tells the camera. "I like that my grandfather's the Chief and everyone calls him Chief," he adds, before accepting praise for his good work from his proud grandfather.
Paul came here from a tiny town in Sparta, Greece, and hasn't looked back. "Seems to me I was born here and raised. Although it's not true. But that's the memory I got," he says. "You know, it's paradise. If you're too rich, it's not the place to be, but if you're poor this is paradise for you. And the middle class, of course. That's what Coney Island is all about."
Valerio Ferrari, the president of Central Amusement International (which the city hired to manage the Coney Island property), had decided that the snack bar, and other longtime boardwalk businesses, needed to go. “We don’t have the same vision,” he said. “They like the way it is, and we don’t,” he told the Times last year, before deciding to let Paul's Daughter stay, as long as Georgoulakos agreed to renovate.