Stephen Gaffney

Artist and educator who restored the old signs and painted new ones for Paul's Daughter

Interviewer:
Interviewee:
Stephen Gaffney
Interview Date:
June 10, 2017

Languages

Brooklyn resident and School of Visual Arts instructor Stephen Gaffney is an artist and sign painter who restored the beloved vintage signs and painted new ones for Paul's Daughter, the oldest operator on the Coney Island Boardwalk. "Some of these signs actually we left untouched,'" says Gaffney. "I insisted for a long time with Paul, who wanted them to be new and shiny. Once you start to see the age of these things you want to either preserve that as much as possible rather than just painting over them. In some cases, I actually made a new sign, so that would be a way to keep the feel of what was going on rather than taking the old and making it new, which is not really possible."

Last year, he painted new signage for the outside of the store, moving the restored vintage signs, including fragile old favorites like 'Mr. Shrimp' and the 'Cotton Candy Kids,' to inside display to protect and preserve them from the elements. During the summer, Gaffney, who is a friend and neighbor of the owners, works weekends as a bartender at Paul's. He talks about how he "memorializes the goings on of the store" with some of his signage, such as Paul's call to customers "Hey! Get It, Get It!"  The 56-year-old mom-and-pop restaurant was founded in 1962 as Gregory & Paul’s by Gregory Bitetzakis and Paul Georgoulakos.