#6:Jimmy Kokotas, restaurateur
Changes are coming to Coney Island in 2012, but at least the Boardwalk will have some familiar faces. Jimmy Kokotas, the owner of the legendary Prospect Heights eatery Tom’s Restaurant, will open an egg cream-and-burger outpost on the Boardwalk in April, joining a select group of Brooklyn-born businesses on the iconic seaside walkway.
The 75-year-old diner’s Coney outpost will replace Cha Cha’s Bar, one of five old-school Boardwalk shops that were evicted in November by Central Amusement International, the company that runs Luna Park and was tapped by the city to turn the People’s Playground into a glitzy, year-round destination.
In order to compete with Nathan’s Famous, Kokotas’s new diner will have to appeal to tourists and Coney’s faithful, who’ll be watching his first season closely to see if he has what it takes to make it on the Boardwalk.
#8:Walmart, big-box store
During last year’s “11 to watch in 2011,” we told everyone to look out for the upcoming Gateway II shopping center — because that’s where Brooklyn’s first Walmart was expected to open.
Now, we’re telling everyone to keep an eye out for their own street corner: the Bentonville Behemoth can now open almost anywhere, thanks to the company’s new, slimmed-down Walmart Express stores, which are about the same size as a large Key Food or PathMark — so wherever they can go, a Walmart could go.
Walmart won’t say where it’s going, but it definitely has Brooklyn in mind; the company’s been throwing its cash around all year, showering several southern Brooklyn non-profit organizations with donations.
Walmart also joined the fight to clean up Jamaica Bay, which is less than a mile from where Gateway II will be built — so keep your eyes peeled!
#1:Brooklyn Nets, basketball team
Call ‘em the Brooklyn Nets — finally.
The soon-to-be-renamed New Jersey Nets are moving to the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights this fall after years of hold-ups from opponents of developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-project, which includes the arena and 16 planned residential buildings.