Yesterday we reported that many of the longtime establishments on the Coney Island boardwalk are being abruptly evicted to make way for "a sit-down restaurant with an ocean view, open 365 days a year, able to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and also a very large sports bar." The casualties include the 70-year-old dive bar par excellence Ruby's Bar and Grill, The Grill House, Shoot the Freak, Beer Island, and longstanding fast food fast-food stand Paul’s Daughter. Ah, but ain't that Generica! Today the dailies report on the proprietors' reactions to the bad news; here are the six most heartbreaking quotes:
- "I'm devastated," says Melody Sarrel, owner of Ruby's, which opened in 1934. "[Zamperla] wants everything new, but that's not what Coney Island's about—it's about nostalgia. People in the summer love to come in for a drink in their bikinis and bathing suits. It won't be the same when they're told to dress up because it's a 'high-class place.'"
- "I thought I was safe, at least for a little while," Steve Bitezakis, who opened The Grill House in 1993, tells the Times. "This was a vacant lot that was full of dead and stolen cars."
- "We're done," Michael Sarrel, whose family owns Ruby’s Bar and Gril, tells NY1. "They grew up here. This is their life. They've been here. So it's tough. That's it."
- "This is all coming at the expense of the people who kept the place going through the good and bad times," says Anthony Berlingeri, who owns Shoot the Freak and Beer Island. "I made the investment when I started Beer Island. Now they’re throwing me out to take my business over."
- "I had a day from hell yesterday. I tripped by McDonald's and smashed-up my glasses from the impact. Next, I go to the dentist and was told I have an infected tooth. Then, I turn-on the news and hear that much of Coney will be destroyed." —"Myron" at the Coney Island message board.
- "They didn’t have the vision that we have for the Boardwalk," Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla/CAI told Amusing the Zillion. "It’s a business decision."
So there you have it. One addendum to all this; yesterday City Room reported that the Brooklyn Brewery would be opening up a location once some of the current tenants vacate, and e-mails calling for a boycott began to circulate. But The Measure reports today that City Room was misinformed; Dan D'Ippolito, the brewery's communications coordinator, said in an e-mail, "Perhaps their source had mentioned a Brooklyn brewery, not the Brooklyn Brewery. We have not discussed building or operating a beer garden in Coney Island—nor do we have any interest in doing so."