A Brooklyn institution hopes to set up shop on the Coney Island boardwalk in April under a new deal that's expected to be signed by the end of the week. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Stepping into Tom's Restaurant is like stepping back into time. It has tile floors, an old fashioned counter and fountain drinks like egg creams.
Tom's has been a Brooklyn institution on this Prospect Heights corner since 1936. Now it's looking to expand to a new location on the Coney Island boardwalk.
"I think bringing this to the boardwalk and to Coney Island would open up a wonderful opportunity for the people of the beach, for the people of Coney Island," says Jimmy Kokotas, owner of Tom’s.
Kokotas has been negotiating with the boardwalk's landlord Zamperla to lease the space, which is the former site of ChaCha's and Nathan's boardwalk concession. Sources say a deal is expected to be in place by the end of the week. Kokotas hopes to make use of the building's rooftop and says he may add a few seafood items, though basically his menu would stay the same.
"We'd like to stay open as much as possible. The ultimate goal is 52 weeks so people can come and have pancakes and eggs and whatever else they'd like on the boardwalk in December, in January and February," says Kokotas.
Tom's is a family-run restaurant. Kokotas took it over from his uncle, Gus Vlahavas, nearly three years ago. Vlahavas' 90-year-old mother Stella is still working there.
"Because I love the place," says Stella.
Most of the business is from repeat customers. Vlahavas says they return for the food, the service and the charm of the place.
"We pretty much kept it exactly how it was. People are now rediscovering nostalgia. I for many years have wanted to change the tops of the tables from Formica, but they didn't want to hear it. It reminds them of their grandma's kitchen," says Vlahavas.
And now the family hopes to duplicate the success in Coney Island.
If the deal comes together, Tom's restaurant hopes to open on the boardwalk in April.