One last drink at Ruby’s on the Boardwalk

The Brooklyn Paper
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Hundreds of fans of the “old” Coney Island gathered for one last drink at the Ruby’s Bar on Saturday to protest a landlord’s decision last week to shut down the beloved Depression-era dive and eight other Boardwalk businesses in a bid to sweep away some of amusement zone’s carny feel.

The landlord, Central Amusement International, ordered the kitschy shops to vacate by Nov. 15. The businesses, including the Shoot the Freak booth, will be replaced for the summer.

“It’s a very sad day for Coney Island,” said owner Cindy Jacobs Allman, whose father Rubin Jacobs took over the 76-year-old bar in 1975. “The city needs to recognize that there’s a place for iconic spots like Ruby’s in the new Coney Island.”

As she spoke, she pointed out the irony of the city’s role in allowing Central Amusement to close the businesses: West 12th Street next to the bar is actually co-named “Ruby Jacobs’s Way.”

“How can they have a street named ‘Ruby Jacobs’ Way, but take away Ruby’s Bar?” Allman lamented.

City officials were absent from the rally, but it was the Bloomberg Administration that set in motion the process that ended with last week’s closure of Ruby’s, Shoot the Freak, Cha Cha’s, Coney Island Souvenirs, Gyro Corner and four others.

Last November, the city bought a vast portion of the Coney amusement zone for $100 million from developer Joe Sitt and then gave Central Amusement International a 10-year lease to operate a temporary theme park as part of a remaking of the entire neighborhood.

That lease included the Boardwalk properties shuttered last week — and mourned on Saturday.

Most at the boozy rally were just longtime customers, many of whom circulated petitions, held signs that called to save Ruby’s and sported T-shirts. And almost everybody sipped brews, chowed down on burgers and reminisced about their favorite times at the legendary watering hole.

“I had my first beer with my dad here,” said Maya Haddad, whose family owns Coney Island Beach Shop on Stillwell Avenue. “I get this nostalgic feeling whenever I’m in the bar. It’s terrible that it may have to leave.”

Others agreed that Ruby’s has an old-time charm that is rare these days.

“It’s the best place in the world,” said Brian Dillon, who plans to write a protest letter to the city. “It never changes, that’s why it’s so great. Shame on those developers for taking it away.”

The Riegelmann Boardwalk institution opened as a bar in 1934, but really boomed after Jacobs took it over. It developed a carny-kitsch appeal that retained the old guard, yet brought int new retro-hip trendsetters, becoming the spot for the Mermaid Parade after-party — the same mix that made Shoot the Freak so popular.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” said Frank Collorio, who started a “Save Ruby’s!” chant. “Mr. Jacobs was a wonderful man.”

Jacobs’s family said that he loved the customers as much as they loved him.

“That bar was his whole life,” Allman said. “He knew all the customers by name.”

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Reader Feedback

catherine from coneyisland says:
i am aclose family friend of the jacobs they are the most caring group ofpeople out there i grew up in coney island and slowly my childhood is vanishing coney is more than new wave hig tech rides and fancy resturants its the honky tonk carny feel its history the old shouldgo along sife the new theres a place 4 everyone taking away the old will devestate the future of coney shame on thecity
Nov. 7, 2010, 9:31 am
Carrie Ehler from Astoria says:
Excellent article I'm going to repost on my blog and give props.
Nov. 7, 2010, 9:36 am
steve from manhattan says:
i'm excited for the new Paneras and TGIFridays that are planned for the lobby of the new condos that are going on the boardwalk! yum yum.....
Nov. 7, 2010, 10:52 am
L.G. from brooklyn says:
This sucks. Thats all I have to say
Nov. 7, 2010, 2:18 pm
Boggy from Bensonhurst says:
Why can't iconic places like Ruby's co-exsist with Panera, TGI Fridays, Shake Shack and Atomic Wings? I can see why
Central Amusements would want to bring in more upscale businesses; dollars count, but Ruby's is representative of the soul of the real Coney Island. Coney Island is a place where a working family can come down, have a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city without blowing the rent check. There NEEDS to be room for places like Ruby's, which after more than 70 years has EARNED its place on the boardwalk.
Nov. 7, 2010, 2:42 pm
G from Greenpoint says:
It's almost complete. The total mall-ifying of New York City. A metropolis once defined by it's variety will soon be defined by it's sameness. Tourists will marvel that you can eat at Applebee's for lunch in Harlem and for dinner in Coney Island. "Isn't that COOL!!" they will shout to each other as they waddle back onboard the shuttle to the Williamsburg Marriott.
Nov. 7, 2010, 3:21 pm
Bob Scott from Brooklyn says:
Interesting how everyone piled on Joe Sitt … yet here's this out-of-town company of prefab amusements stamping out Coney's soul and no one's really making a fuss. What happened to Dick Z, the "mayor" of Coney? Where's his voice.

Ultimately, Coney must be modernized and turned into a year-round venue. But it's a mistake to eliminate ALL vestiges of the past. Tear down Ruby's? Cumonn!

Nathan's on the boardwalk doesn't count as ole time Coney — it's no different than a Nathan's stand in a Midwest shopping mall. And the original Nathan's will ultimately be torn down, and replaced w/ a modern high-rise containing on its ground floor "authentic" recreation of the original.
Nov. 7, 2010, 9:36 pm
robert david from brighton beach says:
wait a minute,where is Marty Markowitz,on this matter??
and what about our great mayor??didn't he buy and "warehouse" the "carosel"?....for what???.I know that one day the people of the city will yearn for the nostalgia that old coney represented,.and the poeple in power today,in their haste to destroy what, could have been speared ,and in their wisdom did not save: will themselves become forgotten reliques of politics as thing is certain-that delicious salty seabreeze will still permeate this great boardwalk,for all to enjoy,no matter how much those greedy landlords of the future dream of bottling that sweet scent for their own self-serving profits....knish anybody??..oh I forgot...there aren't any knish bakeries in coney more shatzes,no hirshes,no jerry"s,..nada.looking for a good pastrami sandwhich??-good luck,ain't gonna find one today in coney either!...THE END.
Nov. 8, 2010, 2:08 am
sal from coney island says:
@ bob Scott ... The City bought Dick Zigun a building, so he is bought & paid for. The only one Zigun cares about is Dick Zigun.. F44k everyone else. He's a BUM.
Marty Markowitz & his puppet Coucilman Domenic Recchia are 2 other BUMS. They only care about themselves & what they get out of the developers.
Nov. 8, 2010, 8:58 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Bloomberg sucks
Nov. 8, 2010, 10:08 am
Joey Bots from Bottswille says:
How very sad - Ruby's will be missed!!
Nov. 8, 2010, 1:10 pm
mike from New York City says:
As someone who visited Coney since I was four years old, this makes me sick to my stomach. Zamparia is carrying on the creepy tradition of Fred Trump (father of The Donald) when he purchased the great Steeplechase Park in 1964, then literally destroyed it, with his vulgar friends throwing bricks through the facade.
Now Zamparia, clueless Coney's unique heart and soul, is going to sterilize it. Might as well go to DisneyWorld--it's over.
Nov. 8, 2010, 4:36 pm
Vito Samarelli from BennyHurst says:
Sorry to my fellow Italians, but we Italians sometimes only value things that are shiny, new and gaudy. How do you expect a bunch of gindaloons from on the boat to understand Coney Island and it's history?
Nov. 8, 2010, 6:50 pm
Vito Samarelli from BennyHurst says:
FU to Marty Markowitz as well - this will not be forgotten by true Brooklyn residents!!!
Nov. 8, 2010, 6:53 pm
sal from coney island says:
Marty Markowitz is having a business breakfast for Brooklyn Businesses on Thursday, Nov. 18 at the Brooklyn Marriott.

Those businesses that are being kicked out of their homes on the boardwalk should confront Marty Markowitz at this breakfast.

Don't let him BS you on him caring for Brooklyn business when he's Missing in Action for you guys.
Nov. 9, 2010, 9:41 am
MIRIAM etienne from BERGEN, NEW JERSEY says:




Nov. 9, 2010, 4:35 pm
Nickie from Glen Rock, NJ says:
How sad that the real flavor of Coney Island is disappearing. Ruby's is a fun, kitchy place that we look forward to visiting each summer. Some things are better left as they are!
Nov. 10, 2010, 2:36 pm
joe from midwood says:
boo hoo
Nov. 10, 2010, 7:09 pm
bklyn gal from Brooklyn says:
Zamperla hasnt a clue to what makes Coney Island run. He thinks because he brought in new rides it brought people....well let me tell you, all rides bring people.Astroland kept coney going in bad times fyi zamperla.Rubys brings in people in the rain and the heat. Can you do that zamperla? I think not! Wake up marty and the people of NY and keep bklyn special.Ill never come to coney again if theres no Rubys!Save Coney Island!!
Nov. 15, 2010, 10:54 am
bklyn gal from brooklyn says:
Here is the link to sign the petion to save Coney Island and pass it on
Nov. 16, 2010, 9:26 am
Maria fFrom Manhattan from Manhattan - NYC says:
I only go to Coney Island with my friends about two (2) times a Summer Season. But our first stop is Ruby's Bar. Yes, Ruby's is a dive and eyesore to the "uber snoots" who look down at any wateringhole that serves the hard-working common person who just wants a quick, friendly drink and doesn't charge $10.00 .

NY City's Best Dive Bar
March 8, 2011, 2:01 pm

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