Greg Birbil

Greg Birbil's father, Paul, was a candy maker who owned the Paradise Ice Cream Parlor on Surf Avenue

Founded in 1928, the Paradise Ice Cream Parlor, also known as the Paradise Luncheonette, was a fixture at 1605 Surf Avenue across from Steeplechase Park for more than 30 years. Greg Birbil, who was born in 1937, shares memories of growing up in "Pop's store," a neighborhood place open year round. His parents were Greeks from Asia Minor who worked in the store along with his older sisters. He recalls doing his homework at a booth reserved for the family. Greg talks about watching his father make chocolates, going to the RKO Tilyou Theatre and Tilyou Studio Photographers, fishing off Steeplechase Pier when it had a restaurant at the end and a steamboat docked there, and being inspired by the work of Reginald Marsh and Coney Island tattoo artists. When he turned 14, his father arranged for him to work in Steeplechase Park at stands owned by fellow Greek immigrants, who in turn sent their sons to work at the Paradise. After working at Steeplechase for six years, Greg Birbil went on to attend Pratt Institute and work for an international advertising agency, McCann Erickson, in many countries, including Greece, which was his last assignment. His blog is An Ad Man in Greece...Observations of a Displaced Brooklynite.