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Coney Island boardwalk businesses denied leases

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coney Photo Credit: Michael Kirby Smith

Some of the familiar food stands and iconic attractions that have beckoned visitors to Coney Island’s fabled boardwalk are getting the boot.

Nearly 11 businesses — including mainstays Shoot the Freak, Beer Island and Ruby’s Bar and Grill — were given just two weeks to pack up Monday by a developer remaking the boardwalk.

“This is the death of the boardwalk,” said Paul Georgoulakos, 81, whose family business, Paul’s Daughter, has been serving up Italian sausages, ice cream and hand-cut fries since the 1950s.

Georgoulakos’ daughter said their new landlord, Central Amusement International — which has a lease from the city to operate Luna Park and nearby properties — solicited proposals this year from the 11 boardwalk vendors for why they should stay. But after her family submitted new designs, they never heard back until Monday’s letter.

“The way they made us feel is the worst,” said Tina Georgoulakos, who has until Nov. 15, like the other vendors, to move.

“How do you pack up so many years of business in 15 days?” asked Michael Sarrel, whose family owns Ruby’s. “It’s like saying, ‘Give me your arm.’”

Also leaving is Carol Albert, whose family has operated the landmark Cyclone roller coaster since 1975. She said the ride has gotten too expensive to maintain, and it makes sense if Central Amusement decides to take it over.

“It’s still a very functioning ride, so my hope is that it will remain kept up to the highest level,” Albert said.

At least two businesses are expected to stay: Nathan’s and the Lola Star souvenir boutique.

But Central Amusement wants to replace the others with a sports bar and sit-down restaurant.

“We look forward to creating an incredible new experience on the Boardwalk, while continuing to honor Coney Island's magnificent past,” Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusement, said in a statement.

But some New Yorkers would rather see more of the old Coney Island remain.

“This place has character,” said Robert McGuire, 32, of Astoria, as he walked the boards Monday. “All you have are strip malls everywhere you go, but New York is one of the last places to have something unique.”

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