Keep Coney American…

…says the sign above the “Grill House” restaurant on the left side of “Shoot the Freak” on the historic Board Walk in the southern neck of Brooklyn.
It seems almost an oxymoron. Coney Island was never really American, but rather Italian and Ukraine since the beginning of time. But today the site of the most famous freak show and hotdog eating contest is threatened by its own Italians indeed.

Alberto Zamperla may sound like the name of a scary monster and for many among locals here, he is. This Italian roller-cost owner is in fact threatening to re-build half of the Coney Island board walk against everyone’s’ approval. And, if he succeeds in changing the eight “landmark” food businesses here he will be forever remembered as “the man who changed history,” say enraged Coney Island natives I have met on my weekly trips to Fellini’s island.

Mr. Zamperla wants to make the restaurants more fashionable, and this is why some of the restaurant owners submitted “more modern” renderings, such as the one on the photo below from Tina Georgoulakos Paul’s Daughter’s owner.
“What’s interesting is that they rejected my iconic store in its current state and rejected a modernized version,” said Georgoulakos. “My point:Nothing was good enough for them.”

Zamperla does not understand that the beauty of Coney Island resides in the facades of such restaurants that made it in movies (“He got game” among many) and photographs (Bruce Gilden’s old-time Coney) just the way they are.
“This is a disgrace,” said Louie (Louis) Scarcelli (below in photo) , third-degree Italian immigrant from Naples. “I was probably conceived on the board walk and now this guys wants to change it and make it a chain. Nobody wants an Applebees here, that’s not what tourists come here to see!”

New Yorkers and people from all over the world come to Coney to eat fried fish at the “Grill House” or to get a beer at “Ruby’s Bar” or at “Cha cha’s.”
“They do not want no fancy restaurants,” said Franky Colorio (below in photo) also originally from Naples.
He has been coming here to san tan on the board walk for at least 30 years and he does not want things to change. But he knows it wont be the same if they change the restaurants and bar scene.

“Change is good, so let’s change what needs to be changed and leave history the way it has been for years,” continued Scarcelli.
Check out what the Brooklyn Paper had to say about this HERE!


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