Locals Take on Riis Concessions

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 Riis Park will be coming back to life with some new life. Earlier this week, the National Park Service announced that it has selected a new contractor to take over Bay 9 and other nearby concession areas, previously operated by Riis Park Beach Bazaar. A group of Rockaway locals, known as the Riis Beach Cooperative, will be stepping up to the plate with a new seven-year lease.

After NPS put out a Request for Proposals, Riis Beach Collective (which will be known as Riis Beach Cooperative), was one of many to submit their ideas before the February 28 deadline. After deliberations, NPS found RBC to offer the best proposal for the area.

“We look forward to working together with Riis Beach Collective to enhance services and offer visitors a premier New York experience in a quintessential Rockaway way,” Jen Nersesian, superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area said.

Who makes up RBC? A group of lifetime locals who all have experience in the concession and hospitality business—Mikey Reen, Dylan Sirgiovanni, Brian Keane and Eugene Brennan. Some may know Reen and Sirgiovanni from By the Beach Cocos, which were sold both at the Riis concessions and on the Rockaway boardwalk. They went on to operate Edible Island at the boardwalk concessions, and their most recent local endeavor is the Rockaway Tiki Bar in Arverne By the Sea. Keane has experience managing concessions around the boardwalk and is the owner of Riis concession, Wise Clock Café. Eugene Brennan, a local resident, is managing partner of the Park Avenue Tavern, and a member of the FDNY.

RBC takes over for Riis Park Beach Bazaar, the folks who now have the contract for the Rockaway boardwalk concessions, and still operate the Riis Bathhouse. Since 2015, Riis Bazaar spent several years revitalizing the long-underused concessions at Riis Park. However, due to Covid, the tail end of their lease fizzled out due to closures and restrictions. The Rockaway Beach Cooperative hopes to liven up Riis once again.

The guys have hit the ground running to prep for their first upcoming season, which means details are still in the works. But some things are for certain. “We’re all born and raised on the peninsula so we’re pretty stoked to have Riis on our hands because it’s really sweet. We think we can bring the best of all worlds to Riis,” Reen said. He added that they’re reaching out to some of the old concessionaires at Riis and hope to bring some new ones into the mix. There are also plans to bring back the music at some point. “We are excited to promote the best of New York’s entertainers, musicians, chefs, artisans, artists, and entrepreneurs to make this the most fun and unique beach party, every day of summer!” the group said.

And they plan to do it while respecting the environment. “At the core of our endeavor, we are focused on environmental protection and sustainability. We plan to do this through composting, recycling, waste reduction, local food sourcing, and consumer education programs. We want to spread the love of the land and protect our areas for future generations to enjoy,” the group said.

With a late start, it isn’t certain when RBC will be able to start operations, but they are aiming for mid-June and definitely before the July 4 holiday weekend. “There’s a lot of things we’re juggling right now but we’ll have a better idea soon,” Reen said.

By Katie McFaddenAnd they’re looking for help bringing all the pieces together. If anyone is interested, whether a vendor, musicians, or prospective employee, you can reach RBC by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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