Coney mayor: Chain restaurants should come, furniture stores should go

Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, wants the city to take the Shore Theater through eminent domain.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The unofficial Mayor of Coney Island had a few more thrills up his sleeve for the People’s Playground during his annual State of Coney Island address. Here’s a rundown:

Dick Zigun called on developer Joe Sitt of Thor Equities to fling open his boarded-up building on Surf and Stillwell avenues, and lease the space to retro restaurant franchise Johnny Rockets.

“I think Johnny Rockets is the most appropriate tenant,” Zigun said, arguing that the diner-style eatery was a more palatable choice than a Burger King or McDonald’s because it evoked the nostalgic 1950s — among Coney’s heydays — with individual jukebox stations, red vinyl seats, and waitresses dressed in 50s attire. “They offer themed food and entertainment, which is what you want for Coney Island.”

Zigun said that he thought Floridian daiquiri-dealer Wet Willie’s and mallrat hat store Lids would both be excellent fits as well for Coney’s glossy new face.

• Hizzoner said he planned to hire professional managers to supervise the Mermaid Parade — his eccentric, annual costumed cavalcade which turned 30 this year.

“The 12 or so people we have on staff — with 100 volunteers we meet the day of — is probably not the best organizational model for an event the size of Woodstock,” Zigun said.

The sideshow barker added that mermaids, King Neptunes, and other assorted sea munchkins can rest easy that the pageant’s quirky heart will remain intact — the hired help would only take over menial tasks like managing barricades, viewing stands, and vendors, and coordinating with the Finest and the Strongest.

“The substance of the parade will not be changed,” said the impresario.

• Zigun said it was time, too, to draw the curtains on the home furnishings stores along Surf Ave. between Jones Walk and W. 10th Street.

“The heart of an amusement district should not go dark at six o’clock at night,” he said.

• The 59-year-old Yale-man-turned-tattooed freakshow manager said he’s looking to call it a day himself at his non-profit Coney Island USA — and retire in six years when his Social Security checks start kicking in.

“I’m looking to step down as CEO,” he said.

Zigun said he hoped to find a successor by the end of the year, but would still remain involved with the Mermaid Parade, in addition to his other events and activism based out of his building at the corner of Surf Avenue and W. 12th Street.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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