After decades of neglect and failed development plans, the 1920s Childs Restaurant at 3052 West 21st Street in Coney Island is once again gleaming and open for business thanks to a major restoration effort and its transformation as part of the Ford Amphitheater complex.
Constructed in 1923 and designed by Dennison & Hirons, the Spanish Colonial Revival style building with a dash of maritime flair was a fittingly flamboyant presence on the brash boardwalk.
The architects designed a stark white stucco building enlivened with terra cotta details with a sea-worthy theme, including seashells, fish, ships and seaweed.
The restaurant, which closed in the early 1950s, was landmarked in 2003 and the project to restore the building and add the outdoor performance space was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission back in 2013.
The restoration project included constructing a rooftop addition for seating, in keeping with the original rooftop dining area that once graced the building and provided diners with enviable water views.
Kitchen 21 opened in the historic space in May — it’s actually several restaurants in one, including a clam bar, cafe, rooftop bar and lounge.
The Ford Amphitheater — an undulating white canopy located next to the restaurant — was designed by Gerner Kroik & Valcarcel and, along with its adjacent public space, won a 2017 Building Brooklyn award.
The box office is located inside the historic restaurant.
The performance venue seats 5,000 and opened in July 2016.
Next to the amphitheater is Seaside Park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, with curving pathways, benches, picnic tables and a playground. The transformation of the building into an entertainment center was championed by former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and was not without controversy — the amphitheater and park replaced a community garden.
The whole complex was developed in a collaboration between iStar Financial Inc. and the NYC Economic Development Corporation — the City of New York owns the property.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
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