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Back to the '20s: Coney Island gets a new eatery reminiscent of the past

This project included the restoration of the landmark Childs Restaurant.

November 16, 2017 |

The gastropub at Kitchen 21 has an 85-foot-long bar with 32 beers on tap. The space can be changed from a daytime café for beachgoers, to evening fine dining, to a concert venue. Photo: Todd Mason, Halken/Mason Photography.

A $60 million public-private investment is catalyzing the resurgence of 2.41 acres of public land along Coney Island’s boardwalk into a dynamic civic space called Seaside Park and Community Arts Center.

This project included the restoration of the landmark Childs Restaurant, which opened in 1923 but had fallen into decay. Its last tenant, a candy maker, vacated the property in the 1980s.

The restaurant, newly reopened under the name Kitchen 21, is positioned as a dining companion to the neighboring 5,000-seat Ford Amphitheater. To accommodate the theater’s 60x40-foot stage, the restaurant’s walls, roof, and floors were reinforced before removing over 10% of its first floor and 25% of its western wall.

The Building Team installed more than a dozen exterior doors, six of which weigh 15 tons each. When the doors roll up, the restaurant becomes a backstage area for the theater, and affords patrons a view of the stage, making Kitchen 21 a year-round performance space.

The reconstruction included an award-winning restoration of the distinctive Spanish Colonial terra cotta façade, with its maritime allusions, and the original rooftop timber pergola. The interior color palette draws its inspiration from materials original to the space: pale, sandy yellow bricks for the exterior walls, and terrazzo floors that blend greens, golds, and sandy tones, accented by brass strips.

This open, flexible dining/hospitality space introduces five dining concepts: a casual grab-and-go; a “test kitchen” with frequent menu changes; a clam bar with communal seating; a gastropub with an 85-foot bar and 32 beers on tap; and a rooftop bar with ocean views. Coney Island’s famous Parachute Jump tower is visible through the windows of the main bar.

Legends Hospitality, which manages Yankee Stadium’s dining options, runs Kitchen 21 for owner/developer iStar.


Project Summary


Gold Award Winner

Building Team: EwingCole (submitting firm, interior design) Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel (architect) iStar (owner) WSP USA (SE) CFS Engineering (MEP) Chapel Street Consultants (GC) Newbanks (CM).

Details: 14,000 sf (restaurant), 6,000 sf (roof). Construction cost: $6.7 million (includes kitchen costs). Construction time: May 2015 to May 2017. Delivery method: Schematic design/bid/design-assist/build.


See all of the 2017 Reconstruction Award winners here

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