Generations of New Yorkers have whiled away the long hot summer for more than half a century at the Silver Gull Beach Club in Rockaway, and for more than 80 years at the Breezy Point Surf Club two miles to the west. For many, it’s a travel back in time to the ’50s and ’60s when clubs like these lined the shorelines of Queens and Brooklyn, according to Jamie Blatman, the general manager of both clubs for the past seven years.
“This summer has been unlike the other years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m excited that we were able to open both clubs during the July 4 weekend,” Blatman said. “There are some restrictions due to social distancing, but there is beach access at both clubs and the pools and the cabanas are open.”
The cabanas are available for storage and changing and they provide an excellent background to enjoy meals.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, seasonal members were given the option to roll over their summer rental deposits toward next season. But Blatman said there have been “very few cancellations” to this point.
“Our summer season traditionally gets going after the July 4th weekend so we still have the heart of the summer ahead of us and our business is really cracking,” Blatman said. “Normally we close the season down on Sept. 13, but we may stay open on weekends a little bit longer this year.”
Both clubs are concessions of the National Park Service, which operates Gateway National Park. Currently, both clubs are approved for beach access and swimming, the use of the bathrooms, and food and beverage service for takeout and delivery, as well as outdoor dining.
Blatman expects that popular sports such as tennis, basketball and bocce will be approved soon.
The clubs open for beach access at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., meaning visitors must depart the beach by 6:30 p.m.
There is a special daily visitor pass available at $40 per adult and $30 per child, and reservations must be made by calling the office at both clubs.
In addition to regular cleaning of the beach, bathrooms and cafeterias, the clubs have purchased CDC-approved sanitizers, which will be used in those areas. Staff will be wearing masks while on the property and the clubs “respectfully request” all guests visiting the clubs use their masks in all interior spaces and when accessing the beach.
Six-foot markers have been set up in the cafe areas to help gauge social distancing guidelines. Additionally, the clubs will be sanitizing the bathrooms every 45 minutes.
Both clubs are easily accessible by car from Queens and Brooklyn and NYC Ferry provides a route from Brooklyn and Manhattan.
“It’s the perfect time to try a staycation this year and come down here and enjoy the summer sun,” Blatman said. “Most people in Queens and Brooklyn do not know these hidden gems are in the city, but once they know, they want to sign up.”
The Silver Gull Beach Club is located at 1 Beach 193rd St. in Breezy Point and its office can be reached at 718-634-1500. The Breezy Point Surf Club is at 1 Beach 227th St. and its office can be reached at 718-634-2500.