Applebee’s is the latest Coney Island business to fold

Closed: The Applebee’s restaurant on Surf Avenue between Stillwell Avenue and W. 12th Street closed on Monday amid a wave of business closures in the area.
Brooklyn Paper
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Coney Island’s Applebee’s Bar and Grill closed its doors on Monday, transforming the once bustling Surf Avenue chain restaurant into one of the many storefronts that sit vacant throughout the People’s Playground.

“It’s definitely unfortunate to say the least,” said Alexandra Silversmith, the executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island, a nonprofit business booster. “From what I can tell, they were very busy.”

The Applebee’s franchise opened its doors in 2013, and quickly became a mainstay among locals, many of whom were shocked when the restaurant suddenly shuttered on Sept. 9.

But the chain eatery isn’t the only Coney business to fold in recent memory, as the People’s Playground has seen a wave of businesses shut down or move away, leaving a trail of empty storefronts in their wake. A report released by the Department of City Planning in August revealed that the People’s Playground has double the average vacancy rate among neighborhoods in New York City, and according to local business owners, the neighborhood’s seasonal economy and high rents are to blame.

“In the off-season, everything dies down here,” said Michael Georgoulalcos, the manager of Paul’s Daughter, a concessions stand on the Riegelmann Boardwalk. “The boardwalk is the place to be for business here. If you’re on Surf Avenue, it’s a lot harder. All the tourists come here to the boardwalk.”

Mermaid Avenue — a popular strip among residents — has seen the largest drop in commerce, with 54 percent of stores closing between 2011 and 2016, according to the City Planning study. The thoroughfare, which sits two blocks away from the amusement district, may suffer because of its relative distance from the neighborhood’s tourist center. But according to locals, an increase in neighborhood stores, rather than in tourist destinations, could be the key to economic renewal.

“There’s a misperception of what people desire,” Silversmith said, citing the area’s large population and the many transit workers who stop for lunch. “People see it as a tourist district and don’t think about the everyday person.”

Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) agreed, arguing that the area needed more clothing stores, healthy food options, and full-service banks, but added that a 2009 rezoning of the neighborhood — which required developers to subsidize affordable housing, new infrastructure, and transit investments — did not yield the promised benefits.

“It should not be lost on anyone that this is occurring about ten years after the 2009 rezoning,” he said. “There was not a structure to put in place to monitor the points of that agreement.”

To jump start the local economy, Treyger’s office and the Alliance for Coney Island are working to promote year-long programming, decorate the street with historic light fixtures and benches, and assemble an organization to fight for local businesses.

“Coney Island is in the process of forming a BID,” Treyger said, claiming that the neighborhood’s business owners banned together after seeing the DCP’s study.

— Additional reporting by Elissa Esher

Reach reporter Rose Adams at or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams
Posted 12:00 am, September 12, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Lawanda Jenkins from New Jersey says:
This is terrible! Will somebody open a go fund me site so that people can contribute to keep applebottoms open!?!???!?!!
Sept. 12, 5:57 am
Jim from Cobble says:
Will not miss a chain like Applebee's. Back to suburbia with you.
Sept. 12, 8:05 am
BunnynSunny from Clinton Hills says:
There are already 9 Applebees in NYC. Who cares if this one closes? They'll just open another one in mid-town Manhattan.
Sept. 12, 8:23 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Brooklyn Paper: Please remove fhe racist comments above. There is no 1st amendment issue. Enforce a civility code that prohibits any racist word or comment. Racism is a moral wrong and afront to humanity, and has no place in a private newspaper comment section.
Sept. 12, 8:34 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
With the developer's dream of windfall profits from Coney Island and it's history, we pushed the small business and neighborhood out for corporate franchises to "improve" the area. Maybe we should have assisted local small businesses and residents instead. How much in tax breaks did we lose? And making this business closing a joke, such as the above commentors do, when people are losing their jobs, shows those commentors to be truly awful people. I assume they don't know what hard work is all about.
Sept. 12, 8:44 am
Daniel Ioannou from Coney Island says:
“Coney Island is in the process of forming a BID,” Treyger said, claiming that the neighborhood’s business owners banned together after seeing the DCP’s study. " Small business owners on Mermaid Ave that have had their doors open for decades have bandied together AGAINST the B.I.D. Those in the Amusement area want a B.I.D. Yet the Alliance the bullying Mermaid Avenue and included them in the proposed boundaries, even though they do not have much support. It's concerning ALL Coney Island politicians have turned their back and closed their eyes to the hardworking small business owners on Mermaid Avenue. The business owners are the ones that are experts in what works, and what does not. It amazes me, people who have no experience or stakes on Mermaid Avenue are dictating what is best for them. Instead of working with existing small business owners on Mermaid ave, their voices have been trampled on by the Alliance for Coney Island and ignored by leadership. Ignoring the wishes of small business owners is NOT a good look for potential borough president hopefuls.
Sept. 12, 10:15 am
Jim says:
For starter, not an applebee's fan. I remember the few times I went in there the staff acted like they were doing you a favor. Hard to believe that a chain can't find five or so dedicated hard working people without the attitude.
Sept. 12, 10:51 am
Riri157 from Bensonhurst says:
It’s the same owners that opened other business in Coney Island that drained the business and than closed. It was never clean, most of the workers were nasty, they never had the specials that Applebee’s Advertised, They had a high-priced summer menu , menu was not the same as other Applebee’s in the summer. Between April and October that place was always busy no reason they didn’t make money.
Sept. 12, 12:25 pm
Edgar Snodgrass says:
Obviously the area is gentrifying and Applebee’s is kinda trashy. Maybe they’ll put in a Cheesecake Factory or PF Chang’s!
Sept. 12, 12:43 pm
Local from Here says:
Ah yes, the deranged far right troll is back spewing its racism in its usual gutless manner. Own your hatred, coward. Remember, it was trump that promised to bring the brown people out of the country. No wonder it still supports him.
Sept. 12, 1:18 pm
Tyler from pps says:
The "People's Playground" is pretty slummy. It's just concrete, garbage and sadness. Is there an ordinance against trees, grass or basic maintenance for the area?
Sept. 12, 3:36 pm
Joel from Queens says:
I'm more surprised that it wasn't because of the customer service and crappy cocktails. Let alone the food comes to the table cold! Had a bad experience there and the management seem to not really care but comp out apps and no sincere apology. I dont feel bad at all. Good riddance!
Sept. 12, 3:37 pm
Amy from Bensonhurst says:
Oh they copied my credit card there and thank god for my bank. They refunded me the money and I knew which waitress waitress who did it. I went back to the establishment 6 months later she was still there. But my friend Andy cant watch game friday nights and talk to the women workers all night.
Sept. 12, 3:59 pm
Maria from Midwood says:
The few times we went as a group of friends the plates were dirty and the waitress rude. They also had an elevator that was so tiny and scary and the help said it gets stuck occasionally. They did have a nice angel fish tank but overall not enjoyable restaurant experience.
Sept. 12, 5:17 pm
Octavio Marquis from Coney Island says:
CI is an ugly slummy disaster... Deranged savages walking all over the place... WTF would want to go there?
Sept. 12, 5:51 pm
Jim says:
What do you expect? Bad service, lack of work ethic. These idiots aren't fit to work at mcdonalds.
Sept. 12, 8:25 pm
Coney from Coney Island says:
NYC Small Business Commissioner should be fired. Time to address all the empty store fronts in NYC.
Sept. 12, 9:27 pm
Leslie from Former CI resident says:
Coney Island can do better. First of all the heavy police presence is a blessing and a curse as well. I think as they try to create a safe environment it also ran a lot of people away because people do not like the police.. And then the police can be hostile.. So everyone's choice is not to go to CI.. Then there's the air of violence. My family member mentioned for us to take a group trip to coney island and everyone paused.. No one wanted to go.. Saying we don't want to get shot.. So business is going to suffer because of the violence and the police presence. You would think good the police are here but because they're there changing how CI was it changes the amount of people wanting to visit. It was beautiful back in the days even when things were a little dangerous.. But it was alive.. Now it sucks.. Everything about CI sucks now..
Sept. 13, 2:33 am
Billy from Sunset Park says:
That's too bad. MCU park no longer has an outdoor restaurant (now a bar only), so Applebees was an alternative when you wanted to sit indoors with someone to eat before a Cyclone game.
Sept. 13, 7:38 am
InTheSlope from Park Slope says:
The photo caption: Shut down: Coney Island’s Applebee’s franchise lost its lease, forcing the restaurant to close on Monday after six years of service. Applebee’s lost their lease a far cry from what the article implies.....
Sept. 13, 7:39 am
Yacob from Brighton Beach says:
Historic benches and streetlights? Really? How about rents adjusted for the seasonal nature of business? Higher rates April-October, lower rates November-March? Daily needs businesses (banks, shops, restaurants) ARE needed for the local residents but CI is a day-tripper destination and those tourists dollars are needed year round. How some non-seasonal 12-month-a-year attractions?
Sept. 13, 9:17 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If this one stayed, would it be one of the select locations to give breakfast as some of them in the NY metro area are doing right now?
Sept. 13, 3:02 pm
Groovy Dave from Lived in Coney for 40 years says:
This is so sad for the neighborhood... It truly was the place to be for such a long time... but it seems to have fallen on hard times lately...
Sept. 28, 11:45 pm
Victoria from Coney Island says:
There’s so many other things that would do well. Trader Joe’s Negril bk Katz Seafood restaurant ( claw daddy’s )
Sept. 29, 5:31 pm

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