The operators of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk concessions are hustling to get ready for Memorial Day weekend after vandals struck their location at Beach 97th Street, causing damage estimated around $10,000.
In a criminal mischief filing with the NYPD on May 13, the complaint listed “damage to several metal doors, office in disarray and food placed inside of pipes and vents.” The incident followed a contentious off-season for Rockaway Beach Bazaar, which took over the lease for the Parks Department concession areas. Co-owners Belvy Klein and Aaron Broudo were awarded the contract from NYC Parks after outbidding Rockaway Beach Club, which operated the properties for nearly a decade.
“We are working our tails off to be open by Memorial Day weekend and look forward to a fun, sunny first season in Rockaway,” Klein and Broudo said in a statement. “We are happy to have reached agreements with Caracas, Rippers and the majority of the Beach 97th food vendors. The incident at Beach 97th is unfortunate and a real bummer not only for us, but our vendors as well. We will continue to push for, and work with, the Rockaway small business community.”
Parks awarded the 15-year contract to Klein and Broudo, who also operate the wildly popular Riis Park Bazaar for the past five years. They manage concessions at Beach 86th, Beach 97th and Beach 106th streets with plans to transform Beach 97th Street into a year-round venue and extend further east on the boardwalk.
“Vandalism has no place in our parks, playgrounds or beaches. This is an unfortunate incident that could negatively affect the Rockaway community, but we’re hopeful that the Beach 97th Street concessions will be open by Memorial Day weekend,” a Parks Department spokeswoman said. “Our new operator, Rockaway Beach Bazaar, is currently preparing for the upcoming beach season and has committed to working with the previous food vendors on the boardwalk to keep much of the same great tastes that beachgoers know and love.”
The NYPD is investigating the vandalism. Many of the vendors were angry when the contract was transferred to the new operators because they had seen their businesses survive Superstorm Sandy and the boardwalk’s reconstruction, the 2018 closure of the beaches by the city due to sand erosion and last year’s COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
But Klein and Broudo were able to reach agreements with most of them, including La Cevicheria, Beezy’s BBQ, Boarders Surf Shop, Caracas & Brothers, Sand Shark Bar and Rippers.
“Rippers is thrilled to announce we’ll be returning to the Rockaway boardwalk this summer,” Rippers owner Christopher Parachini said. “The community support, near and far, was humbling, inspiring and truly awesome. Words don’t fully express the gratitude and love we feel for all of you. We are looking forward now. Greasing the gears and scrubbing the deck in anticipation of summer ’21. We can’t wait to see you. Rippers forever.”