Everyone Is Leaving Coney Island

Next summer may be a lonely one at Coney Island -- nine of the boardwalk's businesses, including the owners of longtime establishments like Ruby's bar, Coney Island Souvenirs, Gyro Corner, Beer Garden, and Shoot the Freak, have lost their leases and are moving out.

Nathan's and Lola Star's will stay, as will the historic Cyclone roller coaster (although its owner, whose family has operated the landmark ride since 1975, is also leaving and the city will take bids for a new ride operator next month).

Central Amusement, which won a 10-year lease from the city to open its $15 million, 3.1-acre Luna Park amusement park next door, plans to spend "several million dollars" on major renovations to the boardwalk, according to the New York Times.

According to the Times, Central "had asked 11 boardwalk business owners, whose leases expired Sunday, to submit proposals for new nine-year leases." Anthony Berlingeri, who owns Shoot the Freak and Beer Island, said he was told the company would replace Beer Island with "something similar."

Which sounds like a pretty apt way to describe Coney Island's future self. Not the same, but something...ambiguous and vaguely familiar.

[shernandez@villagevoice.com]


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