Copyright ©2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

After 76 years on the boardwalk, a Coney Island landmark won't see another season. The loss has sparked a passionate outpouring of support from its customers. Kathleen Horan from member station WNYC stopped by for one of the last calls at Ruby's Bar and Grill.

CROWD: (Chanting) Save Ruby's Bar, Save Ruby's Bar...

KATHLEEN HORAN: By noon last Saturday, patrons were filling the outdoor tables at Ruby's for one of the final opportunities to swill a pint at their beloved spot. Chanting erupted periodically and regulars who haven't seen each other in a while embraced or treated each other to a shot of whatever dark booze was still available in the fast dwindling inventory.

Cindy Jacobs Alman and her sister took over operations from their father Ruby Jacob, who died 10 years ago.

Ms. CINDY JACOBS ALMAN (Co-Owner, Ruby's Bar and Grill): My father was a poor boy who grew up in Coney Island and always said, once you get the sand between your toes it never comes out. And he used to take the people to the Boardwalk and when people would say what's your best item on the menu, he'd say look out at that ocean and his expression was Coney Island is the elixir of life. And that is actually carved on his monument. Let him rest in peace.

HORAN: Ruby Jacobs gave the bar his name when he took the place over in the 1970s. Pictures of him still hang behind the bar. Fading snapshots also plaster the walls and customers can be seen pointing to black and white images of long-ago dismantled amusement park rides.

Andrea Cambridge is a blonde burlesque dancer. She walks past the motorcycle built into a table to show off pictures of her 1990s wedding reception held at Ruby's. Even then, she suspected the funky Ellis Island of bars might be on borrowed time.

Ms. ANDREA CAMBRIDGE (Burlesque Dancer): But we always, even back then, felt like, you know, the end is near 'cause it's, like, you know, Manhattan's Riviera right on the ocean. I felt like we were really lucky to have all the time we had out here. You know, look around at the history, like, Coney Island is history. You can't preserve this one thing?

HORAN: Brooklyn's Jim Shannon would agree. He sits in his preferred corner spot at the bar wearing a straw hat that covers his grey hair. He's been coming to Ruby's for about a half a century.

Mr. JIM SHANNON: I've seen people come and go, good friends and everything. Be like a sin to lose it. I mean, you give this place up, where the people going to go for the summer? Ruby's is gone. Who the hell wants to go to Coney Island? Take a toy away from us? It's a shame.

HORAN: The landlord, Central Amusement International, has said that it wants to modernize and invest millions in updating the Boardwalk and bring in tenants who will attract visitors to the area year-round. Plans include transforming a bar like Ruby's that permits bathing suit attire into a sit down restaurant or sports bar.

Ruby's and seven of the other tenants who are also getting kicked out are trying to fight their evictions in court. They're supposed to be packed and moved by tomorrow.

For NPR News, I'm Kathleen Horan in New York.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.