As Memorial Day approaches, news is coming out of Rockaway in waves. We’ve already told you that Fort Tilden has reopened and Rockaway Beach Surf Club has added a barbecue menu, but there’s so much more.
This weekend, Rippers will start slinging burgers at the Beach 86th Street concession stand and Williamsburg/East Village areperia Caracas will open in its Beach 106th Street perch alongside Conchos.
Citysticks, which served popscicles out of that concession stand last season, will move over to the Beach 97th Street concession stand and open an ice cream parlor there. And there are more changes at Beach 97th, as well: Breezy’s BBQ, a newcomer, will be serving up pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, and Uma’s – which serves excellent Uzbeki food out of a brick-and-mortar location on Rockaway Beach Boulevard – will also have an outpost there. Returning to the concession stand this year are juice and coffee joint La Fruteria, the beachside outpost of Greenpoint/LES’s Lobster Joint, Smorgasburg favorite Bolivian Llama Party,and the Low Tide Bar. Out are Di Cosmo’s (which will keep slinging Italian ices next to the recently reopened Rockaway Taco over on Beach 95th Street) and Motorboat and the Big Banana (we’ll miss their soft-shell crab sandwich).
On the bay side, Rockaway Jet Ski, which rents kayaks and jet skis off of Thai Rock’s waterside deck, is offering a 43% discount via Groupon. And its new competition, the slick Thai Kitchen by the Sea, will begin opening daily starting Memorial Day weekend.
So how do you get out to all this? Well, the Rockabus returns Memorial Day weekend. So does the NY Beach Ferry (not to be confused with the weekday ferry operated by Seastreak). The weekend ferry’s price ($20 one-way, $30 round-trip) is the same this year, but the boat (equipped with a bar) won’t be making as many runs: for now it departs from Pier 11 in Manhattan at 11:30 a.m. and returns from Rockaway at 5:30 p.m. (Saturdays, Sundays and holidays only), with the scheduling due to change in July.
The NYC Beach Bus will also return Memorial Day weekend. For $9 one-way or $12 round-trip, you get a ride to/from the beach, plus free beer (Sixpoint Rad is the flavor of the summer), iced tea, sunblock, a frisbee and candy. This season’s pickups are at Metropolitan and Marcy (in front of the Capital One bank) in Williamsburg and at Pacific Street and Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope, with drop-offs at Jacob Riis and at Beach 84th.
And once you’re there, there are a couple of lodging options if hotel-restaurant Playland Motel is all booked up. One of them, the Hostile Hostel, is drawing flack for launching with tastelessly titled rooms. And the other is operated out of the Marina 59 by two of the food vendors, Andrew Field of Rockaway Taco and Mirabel Araujo of Caracas, along with a couple of Venezuelan architects.
Araujo describes the Truck-a-Float as “a cabin floating on the water” but these are actually pickup-truck canopies that have been turned into floating pods – each equipped with a sofa bed, fan, mosquito netting, a folding table, a tea kettle, and a cooler. If that sounds too Spartan for the cost (about $60 per night on the weekdays and $80 per night on the weekends), rest assured Araujo herself lives in one of these cute little cocoons. She and her partners are currently working on making them solar powered.
That isn’t the only work going on at Marina 57: the beloved Boatel – the fleet of sleepover vessels that went on hiatus in 2012 – is aiming to reopen this summer, though it’s uncertain when exactly that’ll happen. Rosie Stevens, a project manager at the marina, said the boats are still being upgraded. “We’re trying to refurbish them in a way so that it’s a little more hotel-style rather than avant-garde art installation,” she said.