Boardwalk strikes back
“Nobody’s out, and no one plans on getting out until they force us out,” Ruby’s bar owner Michael Sarrell declared as he served a customer a cold Corona last Friday.
About two weeks ago, the shops and restaurants were given notice by landlord Zamperla that their leases would not be renewed. Sarrell and several other businesses were supposed to vacate the boardwalk by Nov. 19.
Sarrell decided to keep the 76-year-old bar open and face the fine of $2,000 a day from the city.
But he isn’t alone. “We’re getting thrown out like animals!” said Anthony Berlingieri, owner of Shoot the Freak, a boardwalk game where patrons shoot paintballs at a human target, and Beer Island, a sandy beer garden. “No one ever messed with what Coney Island is about.”
Eight of the nine business owners ousted by Zamperla have banded together to form The Coney Island Eight and fight their impending eviction, meeting with lawyer Marc Aronson and New York state Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn).
“We’ve sent letters out to Zamperla,” said Aronson. “I expect to be in court by December.”
Kruger hopes to broker a compromise between Zamperla, the city and The Coney Island Eight. “These mom-and-pop businesses are the fabric of the boardwalk,” said Kruger. “Some out of state operation can’t just cash out on Coney Island.”