The perfect summer Sunday in Coney Island, with roller disco queen Lola Star

Her name was Lola (and it still is)
Her name was Lola (and it still is). Photo by Andrea Chu

Holy smokes, brokesters, it’s already the second day of the week! Which also means that only four days stand in between you and this coming Sunday. And when Sunday comes around, you’re going to know exactly what to do, because you’ll have read this latest installment of our local-savvy neighborhood walking tours, known as Perfect Summer Sundays. Brokelyn brings you a local personality from the borough who shares how they like to spend a Sunday in their neighborhood. Then, you try it! Gone are the empty brags of having “been to Bushwick,” or the misguided attempts to hang out where the locals do. This way, you get a taste of what the neighborhood’s all about from someone who actually lives there, and you can leave satisfied.

This week, we’re bringing you back down to South Brooklyn for a taste of Coney Island with Lola Star, the face of Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco at Lakeside in Prospect Park (where you can find us hanging with her on August 28 as we take over the Splashpad for a wet and wild hair metal party). Star is everyone’s disco dream—a living, breathing, spinning entrepreneur whose roller rink has expanded into something of an empire. This week, Star talks to us about the magic of the People’s Playground, Coney Island.  “As soon as you set foot onto the sandy shores, it’s all magic and inspiration. It really will capture your soul. No matter what the adventure in Coney Island, it’s sure to liberate you from whatever rut life has gotten you into.”

For Lola Star, breakfast is about catching a few moments of calm before the storm. “I love having a calm morning coffee on one of the benches, before the boardwalk fills with people,” says Lola. “It’s so nice to have those moments of peace before the Coney Island summertime party starts to rage!”

Any quiet seaside spot along the Coney Island Boardwalk (W. 37 Street) will do for your morning cup. After that? Widen your gaze, maybe, but no need to budge from your bench: Star says the best thing to do on a Sunday morning is just to people-watch.


Because once this starts, you won't have (or want) a moment to yourself. via flickr user Dr. Pavloff
Because once this starts, you won’t have (or want) a moment to yourself. via flickr user Dr. Pavloff

“Coney Island is the best people-watching you’ll ever experience in your entire life,” Star says confidently. “The diversity there is astounding. And it’s totally free to just sit and gaze at the spectacle of humanity as it unfolds before your eyes.”

If people-watching isn’t so much your scene, take to building-watching — sight-seeing, that is. “If you walk towards MCU Park to 21st Street, you’ll find the beautiful terra cotta castle-like building called The Childs Building (2102 Boardwalk), adorned with stunning mosaics of Neptune and sculptures of mermaid-like fish.”

The building isn’t just a sight t0 behold; it’s also an amazing piece of Coney Island history, Star tells us. “It was originally a restaurant in the ’20s, but it went out of business when the owner tried to introduce a vegetarian menu way before the world was ready for it. After that it became a chocolate factory, and the world’s largest manufacturer of Peeps candy! I love the image of conveyor belts of bright yellow & pink-sugared candy going past the terra cotta mosaics.”


Once for diners, later for marshmallows, and now for your viewing pleasure. via flickr user Onasill ~ Bill Badzo
Once for diners, then for marshmallows, then for disco, and now for your pleasure. via flickr user Onasill ~ Bill Badzo

In 2008, the Childs Building was home to Star’s own Roller Rink for a couple of years before the disco moved over to Prospect Park. Now, the structure is a relic that tells stories. “It’s one of the few architectural icons that still exist in Coney Island. Definitely worth the walk down the boardwalk.”

Eating on Coney Island doesn’t mean relegating yourself to a hot dog or a candy apple, though they’re great. How about some tacos? “There are quite a few places to get tacos in Coney Island,” says Star, “but my favorite place by far Tacos Playeros (3019 Jones Walk), the taco stand right behind the Wonder Wheel!”


It's hard to find, but follow the shadow of the Wonder Wheel to taco bliss. via flickr user jndaycoulter
It’s hard to find, but follow the shadow of the Wonder Wheel to taco bliss. via flickr user jndaycoulter

Star can remember when the owners of the stand had a spot next to the Grill House on the boardwalk; they’ve since relocated to Jones Walk, but she says the quality of food and service hasn’t changed a bit. “They serve amazing tacos with yummy, fresh ingredients. And smoothies, and a watermelon water that is insanely delicious. On top of that, they’re just the sweetest family! I love them & their tacos so much! They are the real deal.” 

As far as boutiquing down in Coney goes, Star admits a certain bias. “Of course, the fabulous Lola Star Boutique (1205 Boardwalk West) is my favorite spot.”


Never a dull moment. Lots of other kinds of moments, though. via Tatiana FB page
Never a dull moment at Tatiana. Lots of other kinds of moments, though. via Facebook

Star has a real treat in store for you come evening time.  “If you’re looking for an amazing cultural adventure that’ll blow your mind, take a stroll up the boardwalk to Brighton Beach and catch the dinner show at Tatiana’s Restaurant (3152 Brighton 6th Street). I could write novels about it, so I’m not even going to start. Trust me. If you’re into kitschy performance-fabulousness and karaoke-style dance parties, then you’ll love it.”

Pro tip for brokesters who stick around past beach season: Star’s favorite time to be in Coney Island is actually the winter. “It’s amazingly romantic.  When the rides are all shut down and covered in snow, it has this incredible forgotten amusement park vibe. I like to think you can still hear the ghostly echo of thrill-seekers’ screams from summers past.  My dog Shimmer and I go for frequent long wintertime walks on the beach, and we feel like it’s all ours.”

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