05 February 2012

Coney Island Gets All Boring

So I rode down to Coney Island the other day, got off the train, walked through the stylish subway terminal to the intersection of Surf and Stillwell, and I saw—this.

What the hell is this totally nondescript, anonymous, uninteresting, gray-and-glass building doing on the southeast corner of Coney Island's most significant intersection?

Oh, I see from the sign in the window: Thor Equities put it there! Thor, you'll remember, is the development corporation that has been systematically ripping out the heart and soul of Coney for the past few years, buying up land, tearing down great old buildings, kicking out Astroland and doing other wonderful, soul-killing things.

This particular corner used to be the home of the Surf Hotel. It was a crummy little two-story thing, and had been left to rot for years. But it was utterly in keeping with Coney's character. This new structure is—well, how should be put it?—not.

Disgusted and dismayed, I looked across the street and caught sight of the iconic Coney Island Nathan's. Thank God it is still here, and still has plenty of personality! So I walked inside and saw—this.

So, what the hell happened here. And when did it happen? When was the interior scrubbed squeaky clean and filled with television screens showing slow-mo advertisements of Nathan's products? When were the old-time ordering counters at the far end removed and moved to the center, where they now resemble that kind of order stations you'd see at any fast food joint across this nation of our? When did the inside of Nathan's get so boring?


Bruce Rubenstein said...

They changed the interior of Nathans at least 5 years ago. I brought someone from out of town there and was shocked. No more raw bar and the inside looked like every other Nathans.

In the early 60's the family would drive there in the off season and my dad would give me a dollar for food. I could get four things. My favorites were bar-b-cue on a bun and chow mein on a bun.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I don't think it was that long ago. I was there a couple summers ago and it was still laid out the same way.

Ken Mac said...

this is from Hell

randall said...

C'mon, you know that Nathan's interior was test marketed to show that people like the bland interior and will buy more hot dogs and french fries if they are in a familiar setting.

If they didn't conform interiors someone from the mid-west might go to the Coney Island Nathan's and walk out because they didn't know that these "hot dog" things were. Let alone a raw bar. Can you imagine if you've never seen a clam before how freaked out you'd be to see someone shucking them AND eating them RAW?

Nathan's Co., I imagine, is now as far from the Coney Island that birthed the original Nathan's and frankly I'm surprised that they didn't switch up the interior sooner.