Family started with snack bar, ended up with entire park
Members of the Vourderis family, community leaders, officials and Coney Island residents gathered on Friday to honor the legacy of Theodora Lula Vourderis, known as the matriarch of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, with a street co-naming ceremony.
The intersection of West 12th Street and Riegelmann Boardwalk was dedicated and co-named Theodora Lula Vourderis Way.
Lula Vourderis was the family matriarch to the entire Vourderis family, consisting of four children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. In the 1960s, she helped her husband Denos start a hot dog pushcart business on the boardwalk in Coney Island, which would later become Deno’s Snack Bar. There, she cooked fried shrimp, chicken, and whipped up cotton candy for visitors.
The food concession site expanded to Deno’s Wonder Wheel amusement park, employing four generations of Vourderis family members and local residents.
According to the office of Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, “Lula was tirelessly dedicated to helping out the community, never refusing a meal to the homeless or unemployed, and her generous spirit helped shape the vibrant and resilient Coney Island community.” She died in 2019 at the age of 87.
“We celebrate a wonderful community leader and entrepreneur, Theodora Lula Vourderis, by honoring her with a street co-naming here in Coney Island. Her love of family and community touched the lives of many who visited the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk and beyond. She exemplified the term ‘giving back to the community’ and her generous spirit positively impacted residents in the neighborhood, the borough of Brooklyn, and throughout the City of New York,” Treyger added.
“We are extremely grateful for the honor bestowed to our mom, Lula, in recognition of her lifetime of generosity, sincerity and empathy for others. A hard-working, dedicated woman who has become a role model for our family, whose legacy we continue today,” said Aristea LaChase, daughter of Lula Vourderis.
The location which has been co-named is directly across from the original Deno’s Snack Bar where she spent countless hours and over 40 years serving families of beachgoers and Boardwalk visitors.