Restaurant row! Food replacing furniture in Coney Island

It’s out with sofas and footstools, in with sandwiches and frozen treats on Surf Avenue this summer!

A pair of chain eateries and a locally-owned cafeteria are due to open on the People’s Playground’s most famous thoroughfare, replacing a pair of decades-old furniture stores.

A Subway sandwich shop will take over part of the location of Lago Furniture, a 30-year-old home furnishings dealer opposite Jones Walk swamped during Hurricane Sandy — while a locally-owned cafeteria will move into Astroland Furniture’s spot at W. 10th Street. And gelati giant Rita’s Italian Ices will open a location at the corner of W. 15th Street in time for the amusement district’s hot season.

Joe Vitacco, the real estate agent behind the Subway and Rita’s deals, said the hero-making franchise will use the corporation’s upscale “Tuscany design,” complete with couches and a fireplace.

“It’ll be more of a place to sit down and eat, a little nicer ambience,” Vitacco said.

Vitacco said he was in talks with potential tenants to take over the rest of Lago’s space.

The owner of Astroland Furniture’s old location — who refused to give his full name, and asked to be identified as “Ted” — said he was unsure what his new tenant would name their business, but said it would serve pizza, ice cream, and other fast food in a self-serve format.

Lago and Astroland Furniture existed in violation of the 2009 re-zoning of Coney’s core, which required “entertainment-related retail,” and drew the ire of amusement advocates like Sideshows by the Seashore founder Dick Zigun — particularly because of their aesthetic effect on the thoroughfare on summer evenings.

“The heart of an amusement district should not go dark at six o’clock at night,” the self-proclaimed mayor of the People’s Playground complained.

Rita’s Italian Ice, meanwhile, will provide additional corporate competition to 74-year-old candy apple and ice cream institution Williams Candy, which sits almost directly across the street. Williams already faces a challenge from IT’SUGAR, an international candy chain that opened at the corner of Stillwell Avenue in May 2013. But Williams owner Pete Agripides has said he is unafraid of a tooth-rotting rivalry.

I got no problem with competition. Competition is always good,” said Agrapides.

The new eateries join the Applebee’s and Popeye’s locations between Stillwell Avenue and W. 12th Street. Frozen yogurt titan Red Mango and retro-diner chain Johnny Rockets are set to open on the same block this year.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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