An old art deco gem has risen again at Jacob Riis Park in Queens.
Constructed in 1932, the historic Bathhouse Beach Pavilion had long ago fallen into disrepair. Now, after a $4 million renovation, the brick building is open for business, with a beer garden, green juices, live music, crabcakes, pulled-pork sandwiches, an arcade and more.
“I don’t think a day’s gone by since we got here where someone didn’t ask, ‘Hey, when are they gonna do something with the bathhouse?,’” says Belvy Klein, co-owner of the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, the party spot that brought trendy food stalls and dance parties to the beach in 2015.
The newly reopened bathhouse is an extension of the bazaar and its centerpiece is a 50,000-square-foot courtyard that’s now home to a beer garden: there, beachgoers can seek respite around a long bar serving beers and creatively named frozen drinks, such as the Ginni Hendricks (a gin-based frozen cocktail, $10), while dancing to tunes from a DJ spinning Bob Marley remixes and Latin jams. There’s also a large arcade featuring video games, pool tables, air hockey and crane games.
“It’s so cute, we’ll definitely be hanging out here,” says Laura Mueller-Soppart, a 26-year old from Williamsburg who visited on Independence Day. “Everyone’s so friendly … It’s really relaxed.”
She came to Riis for the day with her friend, Julianne Perez, 27, a Los Angeles native who’s used to Pacific Ocean beaches.
“Because I live here [now] I really need an outlet, I really need an escape from the city,” Perez says. “This is really accessible. I like how New York has kind of created these little [beach] communities.”
The pair was snacking on shrimp ceviche quinoa salad (adorned with sliced avocado fanned out like a seashell), available for $13 at La Cevicheria, one of the bathhouse’s new local food vendors on the boardwalk side.
Additional food stands include: Musser’s Famous, which serves crabcakes on potato rolls ($13); the Meat Up, whose Chipwreck specialty tops homemade potato chips with cheddar-cheese sauce, smoked bacon and scallions ($7); and the Wise Clock Cafe, which offers $6 cold brew coffee and $4 bagels with a schmear starting at 9 a.m.
For a more tropical experience, try the vegan-friendly Greenhouse stand for acai bowls ($15), green smoothies ($10) and fresh coconut water ($7).
Work on the bathhouse isn’t quite finished. Future projects include a rooftop lounge, where visitors will be able to enjoy sea breezes and Atlantic Ocean views.
“NYC is surrounded by water,” says Klein, a native New Yorker, “Why shouldn’t we make a play as one of America’s best beach towns?”
Riis Bazaar Bathhouse Beach Pavilion, 157 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park; RiisBazaar.com. Take the Rockaway NYC Ferry ($2.75) from Sunset Park (140 58th St.) or Wall Street’s Pier 11 to Rockaway; a free shuttle will take you to Jacob Riis Park. Or take the 2 train to the end of the line and grab the Q35 bus to the bathhouse.