Some longtime Coney Island vendors who are supposed to vacate by Monday are vowing to stay put and fight their eviction -- saying they were misled by their new landlord, who asked them to submit confusing, unneeded business plans earlier this year.
Nine of the 11 businesses who were evicted say they won't go. Only three of those 11 businesses -- Nathan's, Lola Staar boutique and the Beach Shop souvenir store - were given new leases.
Longtime boardwalk standbys like Ruby's Bar, Shoot the Freak, and Paul's Daughter told WNYC they're not going down without a fight. Michael Sarrel of Ruby's says they've hired a lawyer who has experience winning landlord-tenant disputes in Coney Island.
"They're not going to be out in November and they're not going to be out in December and they're not going to be out for a while," said lawyer Marc Aronson, who was hired by eight merchants after amusement giant Zamperla USA -- an Italian based firm -- ordered them to leave their storefronts by Nov. 19, according to the Daily News.
Letters were sent last month to 11 boardwalk vendors by their new landlord, Central Amusement International, operated by Zamperla, telling them to submit elaborate business plans in an effort to kick-start business along Coney Island's bustling boardwalk. The merchants say the proposal request was just a rouse -- and the new landlord had no intention of ever renewing their leases.
"They threw us out! These are not nice people!!" said the irate owner of Beer Island who by had received letters via FedEx for both his open beer garden and a second business called Cha Cha's that's a music club serving food.
Coney Island Park Controversy
A former boxing promoter, John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia — "my name is Cha Cha, just Cha Cha, that's my legal name!" — ran the two spots on the boardwalk for almost a decade, he said.
"They wasted my time and money, having me submit a proposal for what I was going to do to the places, and evidently they weren't satisfied," he said. "I'm very bitter. They never even talked to me."
The vendor leases, which are controlled by the city, expired last month.
The fate of the vendors has been unknown since Zamperla opened Luna Park, replacing the old Astroland rides. Central Amusement International has signed a 10-year lease for about 6 acres of Coney Island, paying the city $1 million plus part of gross receipts.
Valerio Ferrari, president of both Central Amusement and Zamperla USA, said the Italians' $15 million investment in Luna Park has helped Coney Island "enjoy its most successful season in decades."
Luna Park is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vision of turning the seafront into an amusement and entertainment district with restaurants, movie theaters, retail stores and hotels.
Central Amusement International is planning a 2011 opening for the "Scream Zone," which will offer two roller coasters, go-carts and a human slingshot launching people more than 200 feet into the air.