Images of Poseidon, Greek God of the Seas, wielding his mighty trident, drawn by a sea-horse drawn chariot-shell, catapulting through a storm-tossed sea, flashed through my mind when I first set eyes on the iconic Childs Restaurant at Coney Island! A life-long love affair with Roman and Greek mythology (my most loved course in college) drew me to this neglected, vacant restaurant in 2011. Childs Restaurant was completed in 1923, on West 21st Street and the Boardwalk on Coney Island. At that time the Childs chain (founded by brothers Samuel and William Childs) was one of the largest in the United States; they were credited as inventors of the “tray line” self-service cafeteria format introduced at their 130 Broadway location in 1898. By 1925, they were spread across twenty-nine cities in one-hundred and seven locations.
Designed in a Spanish Colonial Revival style by Frederick Charles Hirons and Ethan Allen Dennison, the resplendent terra cotta ornamentation depicts themes of the sea by which it resides – Ionic marble columns, Poseidon, a plethora of sea creatures such as the dauphin/dolphin, shells,and sailing vessels grace the walls of this New York City designated landmark. By New York standards, Childs was considered to be a very large restaurant stretching about one-hundred feet along the newly constructed Boardwalk, a two-hundred fifty feet along West 21st Street, and three stories high, in addition to a pergola roof garden. The interiors were decked out with white tile walls and floors, marble tables, and electric lighting with fans. It was quite exciting as the New York City Subway had just reached as far as Coney Island in 1920. Due to entertainment popping up in other areas, Childs became less popular; closing in 1952. It then was purchased by the Ricci family, becoming a candy factory. At the time it was converted into a roller skating rink in 2008, it had already been designated in 2002 as a New York City Landmark.
Tremendously elated that it has undergone a magnificent restoration using vintage photos for inspiration (was told some terra cotta pieces were sent to France for repair), today’s venue, Kitchen 21, consists of five different dining and drinking concepts – a rooftop wine bar, Test Kitchen fine-dining restaurant, Boardwalk and Vine, Community Clam Bar and The Café. Its western side now showcases the Ford Amphitheatre – all you Wendy Williams fans can look forward to her Mixtape Beach Party on July 23, 2017!
Architecture and cuisine lovers – Kitchen 21 awaits! It will always be Childs Restaurant to me! All who know me, are aware of how keen I am about movies – this exquisite building really first came to my attention as it was featured as a community center in one of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies premiering in 2002 – Two Weeks Notice.
stairs leading to the rooftop pergola
love that the view through the bar windows appear to be a watercolor
Don’t tarry too long before exploring whimsical, historical Childs Restaurant – the $60 million redesign is well worth your time.
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Ki tchen 21 – Eater > ny > kitchen-21-childs-coney-island