Visitors to the Rockaways this summer will discover much more space and less restrictions on the popular stretches of beaches east of Beach 116th Street and improved customer experience at the concessions along the iconic Rockaway boardwalk.
As many as 70 blocks of Rockaway Beach will be open to swimming seven days a week and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have replenished the beaches with more than 2 million cubic yards of sand from Beach 9th Street all the way to Beach 149th Street as it has completed most of the $336 million Atlantic Shorefront Resiliency Project to protect and strengthen the Rockaway community. Beach closures will continue intermittently from Beach 116th to Beach 143rd Street as the remaining construction is completed while the entirety of the Rockaway boardwalk will remain open throughout the summer.
Rockaway Bazaar, which operates the concession areas along the boardwalk, announced that the Beach 97th Street concession building, Rockaway’s largest, has now been completely renovated and features new see-through overhead doors, raised ceilings, new lighting and new painting. The facility is now completely winterized and will operate year-round starting in the fall.
Returning food vendors include Red Hook Lobster Pound, La Cevicheria, Seany Pizza, Hook Burger, Chickenwreck, OffFellows and Edible Island. New 97th food vendors include Wise Clock Cafe, Amour Fresco and Washed Up. Sand Shark Bar will be serving frozen cocktails, draft beer and wine and is introducing a brand new lineup of sake based beach-centric cocktails as well.
Beach 97th will also host a free summer concert series every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and on national holidays, along with movie nights, yoga and volleyball throughout the summer. Weekends at Beach 97th also features local clothing vendors including Zingara Vintage, DeLaMer 1981, Pattern Village, Rockaway Beach Local and Lola Star.
Rockway Bazaar also announced that Caracas and Brothers returns to Beach 106th Street and Rippers returns to Beach 86th Street. Two new operators, Slutty Sammy’s (grilled cheese) and Routes and Rails (jerk chicken) will be popping up at the surfer haven at Beach 86th Street while Josie’s Delight will serve empanadas at Beach 73rd Street on weekends.
For more information, visit the Rockaway Bazaar website here, and here for the concert schedule.
This will be the third season for Rockaway Bazaar operating the concessions and partners Belvy Klein and Aaron Broudo are thrilled with the improvements.
“Now that the beach is fully restored at all concession locations with miles of new sand just laid down, we can’t wait for Rockaway beach season to get started,” they said. “Fun in the sun, tons of awesome eats & drinks, free concerts. This is what NYC summer is all about!”
Councilwoman Joann Ariola agreed.
“The concessions had a great year last year in spite of the many challenges presented by beach closures and construction work,” Ariola said. “The loosening of beach restriction should have a positive impact on the entire community beyond the boardwalk as well, as more open beaches will mean more visitors, and more visitors will mean more people frequenting local shops, boosting the local economy.”
Rockaway Bazaar noted that swimming is allowed on beaches where lifeguards are on duty and NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue told the City Council that lifeguard staffing shortages will continue to plague the city’s beaches and pools this summer. The city reached a deal with District Council 37 last month to increase pay for new and second-year seasonal lifeguards to approximately $21.26 per hour. Currently, the city has around 500 lifeguards, far short of the 1,400 needed to fully staff public beaches and pools citywide.
“We’re doing all that we can to recruit and train as many lifeguards as possible,” Donoghue told the parks committee on Monday. “We are clearly still facing a very challenging hiring environment.”
Ariola has high hopes that the staffing shortage won’t impact the beaches in her district.
“We’ve been working very closely with NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriguez Rosa to boost lifeguard levels going into this season, and let me tell you she did not have an easy task,” Ariola said. “Despite the obstacles, she has done a good job of rolling out outreach programs to try and attract new guards, and I am hopeful that we will see more employees brought on over the course of the summer to alleviate some of the shortages we are currently facing.”