Cha-Cha’s Bar will reopen on Surf Avenue

The former Boardwalk watering hole Cha Cha’s Bar is relocating to this space, replacing the shuttered Surf and Turf Grill on Surf Avenue across from Nathan’s.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

A former Boardwalk watering hole is doing the cha-cha-cha to a new spot on Surf Avenue.

Cha-Cha’s Bar, the legendary Coney Island dive booted from its longtime home last year, will reopen in April as a combo pizzeria-seafood restaurant and nightclub between Stillwell Avenue and W. 15th Street, said its owner, John “Cha-Cha” Ciarcia.

“The city threw me out of the Boardwalk, but they can’t throw me out of Coney Island,” said the feisty entrepreneur, who ran Cha-Cha’s off W. 12th Street for 10 years before being evicted in November.

But Ciarcia doesn’t just plan to re-open Cha Cha’s. He wants to open two additional venues in Coney Island with amusement rides and food and drinks off Stillwell Avenue between Wonder Wheel Way and the Bowery in the empty lot where developer Joe Sitt piloted a short-lived flea market.

Cha Cha’s, a honky-tonk known for its live music and salty characters, was among Coney’s “Boardwalk Eight” — businesses that fought to stay open after the city handed their leases to Central Amusement in 2009 to turn the People’s Playground into an upscale year-round destination. Central Amusement tapped a Miami-based company to replace the old-school shops with glitzy eateries, but the plan was squelched after an ice cream shop it opened on the famed planks bombed last summer.

Cha-Cha’s was kicked to the curb alongside five other stores — including the popular Beer Island bar — leading Ciarcia to auction off his establishment’s contents on its last day, In December, the amusement giant handed the spot where Cha-Cha’s Bar once stood over to Prospect Heights eatery Tom’s Restaurant, and announced deals to keep Boardwalk staples Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter as well as expand Nathan’s.

Diehard Coney fans celerated Cha-Cha’s turnaround.

“We were really sad to think Cha-Cha’s was leaving, and now we have it back in three places,” said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Community Board 13.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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