The $20 million remake of the Jones Beach Boardwalk Café has opened its doors once more on the boardwalk at the Central Mall, moving away from the sit-down restaurant venue of the 1960 and offering instead a food court environment in which visitors can pick from a smorgasbord of fresh, healthy upscale foods that are designed to appeal to a host of summertime taste buds.
The architectural style of the new boardwalk café also honors the original architecture of buildings along the boardwalk by using brick, sandstone and limestone materials that match those utilized in the historic 1920-30s buildings.
A RAFT OF FRESH NEW FOODS
The 7700 square-foot café with a tensile roof will rise 20 feet above sea level with entry from the boardwalk by walking up several sprawling steps or up a gently inclining walkway that assists the physically challenged. It features a host of fresh offerings, from tacos and rice bowls, to several burgers including turkey and vegan burgers and a blackened fish dish.
Also on the menu are Panini’s, and a grab ‘n’ go section with garden salads, several wrap selections along with yogurt, vegetable, cheese and fruit cups. Pastries such as croissants, muffins and Danish will be available, along with dry foods such as chips and candy.
For beer aficionados, four craft beers will be on tap, along with a host of canned craft beers and other best-selling brands, sodas, NY-bottled waters and drip and iced coffee, to name a few. Long Island caterer Centerplate is the concessionaire.
George Gorman, deputy regional director of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, told Your NewsMag that a Taste New York section will feature foods and beverages made expressly in New York.
After choosing selections, diners can then proceed outside the café to sit in any one of 132 seats with tables and shaded options available to enjoy lunches or dinners while experiencing sweeping views of the beach and ocean.
Joshua Soren, a founding member of the Wantagh Preservation Society who has done extensive research on Jones Beach and its environs, told Your NewsMag that the original Jones Beach Café dates back to 1936, being the truest art-deco architectural style to the original buildings along the boardwalk.
When that cafe closed, a newer, more modern-looking building many contemporary residents will remember was constructed in 1964 to continue the historic tradition, providing sit-down dining with more elegant fabric tablecloths, napkins and cutlery. That building closed in 2004, however, after the structure became unsafe.
While Gorman suggested the new Boardwalk Café had been on the drawing board since 2004 once the second Boardwalk Café closed, those plans were put in a holding pattern while the state explored a public/private partnership. Long Island restaurateur Steve Carl, partnering with now-President Donald Trump, attempted to open a catering facility where the cafe had been located. It was thought that private enterprise could reshape the boardwalk landscape and generate new state income by bringing in several new groups of people for weddings and banquets, all hosted within a three-story 88,000 square-foot facility titled Trump on the Ocean at the old Boardwalk Café site.
Seating next to a shuffleboard court
Ultimately, Superstorm Sandy ended any plans for such a venture when it destroyed much of Jones Beach State Park, and both the state and the Trump organization agreed to end the public/private partnership.
Gorman also told Your NewsMag that the Central Mall concession stand – offering hot dogs, hamburgers and a flurry of fried foods – that has stood for decades would remain at its location across from the new Boardwalk Café. “The café is more about upscale tastes, so the Central Mall concession stand will remain throughout this summer” while the state explores new options or functions for it in the future.
Gorman said that adjacent to the Boardwalk Café is a new spray ground suitable for all ages.
Spray park for kids adjacent to the Boardwalk Cafe
Also new in the state park is a bike path on the western section of the Ocean Parkway as it goes toward West End 2 beach from the end of the boardwalk – a 2.5-mile extension. It will permit bikers to travel the full length of Jones Beach State Park, from West End 2, to the beginning of Gilgo Beach.
Reactions to the new Boardwalk Café have been unanimously positive. “The grand opening of the Boardwalk Café highlights New York’s progress in restoring the historic vitality of Jones Beach State Park,” state Governor Cuomo said at the cafe’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I encourage everyone to visit Jones Beach this summer and experience for themselves
the transformation that has taken place at one of Long Island’s true natural wonders.”
State Senator John E. Brooks said the state had done an excellent job in getting the facility prepared. “Jones Beach is one of the state’s top tourist attractions. I compliment Governor Cuomo and the parks management on this significant investment.”
“This is an incredible addition to the Jones Beach State Park, which is in my district, and is the crown jewel of state parks on Long Island. I want to thank Governor Cuomo,” remarked State Assemblyman Dave McDonough.
Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive, remarked that “New York continues to be showcased as the beautiful, historic state it has become. Providing residents with more reasons to stay in New York for vacation than leave” has been a worthwhile mission by the state.
“Our Long Island parks are an invaluable source of recreation, beauty and enjoyment to millions of residents and visitors each year,” added Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen. She said the town is grateful for the support of the state’s continued investment in the area. “With these improvements made possible by this funding, the South Shore is ready to lead the way this summer,” she concluded.