The Changing Face Of Coney Island

Depression-era Ruby's Bar revamps its facade

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Call it a sign of the times.

Ruby’s Bar, the beloved Depression-era pub that fought to stay on the Coney Island Boardwalk as the People’s Playground undergoes a massive attitude adjustment, has replaced its vintage sign with a modern marquee to fit in the city’s kinder, gentler vision for the gritty Amusement District.

Workers tore down the 78-year-old watering hole’s hand-painted sign — which famously advertised hamburgers, corn dogs and other beach staples — replacing it a more contemporary plastic lettering.

Coney’s faithful lamented the change, claiming it symbolized the historic amusement district’s slow transformation from a honky-tonk fun zone into a sterilized row of rides, shops, and restaurants.

“I liked it more before,” said Ivan Samayoa. “It had more of the traditional Coney Island look.”

Amy Zuchowski agreed, claiming that Ruby’s won’t ever be the same.

“The character is what made it successful and they’re changing it,” Zuchowski said. “It should be like it used to be.”

But Ruby’s owner Michael Sarrel said he was required to make the change as part of his agreement with Central Amusements, the company overseeing the city’s plan to turn the amusement district into an upscale, year-round, tourist destination. Central Amusements allowed Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, a popular food stand, to stay on the Boardwalk last year provided the shops complete expensive makeovers.

“We were ordered to clean up our facade,” said Sarrel. “The old sign was outdated anyway. It needed a facelift.”

— with Derrick Lytle and Ben Lockhart

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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Reader Feedback

Perry from Coney Island says:
Finally the 1st change for the positive for Coney Island in the 50 years I have been living and working there. It's a real pleasure to see this stretch of boardwalk adorned with beautiful new shops and classy new signs. Good luck to all who have perservered through hard times. Next year we get the carousel back which should be some beautiful venue.
June 19, 2012, 5:09 am
Regina from Bath Beach says:
I don't know how anyone could refer to losing pieces of history as "positive" or "classy" but I guess everyone is entitled to their own views. Changing an antique hand painted sign to those tacky big red plastic letters does not make the place look upscale so I really don't see why this would be considered an improvement. Re-painting the old sign would have cleaned it up and kept the history but I guess that wasn't an option. Where are the environmentalists when you need them????
June 19, 2012, 8:42 am
manny from lower east side says:
I hate to see the sign go but I'm so happy that they survived. I hope everyone will come out during the colder months when Ruby's is really going to need support.
June 19, 2012, 12:58 pm
Gee from Gravesend says:
Ruby's Bar will still have the same customers and new ones to add.Get real people.
June 19, 2012, 5:33 pm
ZoetMB from Forest Hills says:
That sign really is terrible. It makes Ruby's look like a fast food chain. Personally, I think primary colored plastic signs should be banned throughout the entire city. They are incredibly repulsive and cheap looking.

Ruby's should have put up a new painted sign, neon, a wooden sign or even better, an old-fashioned canvas awning with appropriate lettering.
March 5, 2013, 8:10 pm

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