By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As Coney Island continues its slow recovery from the damage Hurricane Sandy left behind nearly seven months ago, a national chain restaurant is getting set to open a franchise in the storm-torn community.
Apple-Metro, Inc., the company that owns Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants in the tri-state area, is opening a restaurant on June 17 on Surf Avenue between Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street. It will be the company’s sixth Applebee’s restaurant in Brooklyn.
“We’re not opening just any Applebee’s. This one is going to be very special,” Zane Tankel, CEO of Apple-Metro Inc., told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “In honor of the fact that Coney Island is right off the Atlantic Ocean, we’re putting in a giant fish tank. It’s so huge, it serves as a room divider,” he said.
The fish tank is 20 feet long and 10 feet wide. It contains 4,300 gallons of water. To create the fish tank, Applebee’s teamed up with Wayde King from Long Island and Brett Raymer from Brooklyn, co-owners of Las Vegas-based Acrylic Tank Manufacturing the stars of Animal Planet’s hit series http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/tanked “TANKED.” The tank will house sharks and other exotic specimens, Tankel said.
The new Applebee’s will have 250 seats in the first floor dining room and an addition 50 seats on a second floor outdoor terrace. The outdoor terrace will have a fireplace.
“Imagine sitting above the excitement of Surf Avenue, watching the comings and goings on the infamous Coney Island Boardwalk while dining on Applebee’s signature favorites” Tankel said.
The restaurant will be hiring 200 workers, many of them from the neighborhood, Tankel said. “We are fully committed to Coney Island. We believe in this community and we believe in the resilience of this community,” he said.
Apple-Metro, Inc. is working with the Alliance for Coney Island to co-host a Very Important Neighbor (VIN) Grand Opening Party at the new eatery on Saturday, June 15. All proceeds from the VIN Grand Opening Party will be donated through to Alliance for Coney Island’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, Tankel said.
Coney Island sustained enormous damage from the Oct. super-storm, according to local officials, who said residents and businesses were flooded and that huge piles of sand from the beach were blown several blocks inland. Homeowners and merchants are still struggling to rebuild, officials said.