What’s New for 2024

 What’s New for 2024

By Katie McFadden

There is always something new and exciting happening around Rockaway. It’s a great place to be not only in the summer, but year-round, and some have decided to invest in this little slice of heaven to make it even better with new businesses and community spaces. Here are some of the newest spots to come to Rockaway and Broad Channel over the past year, with even more to come.

One of Rockaway’s commercial strips, Beach 129th Street in Belle Harbor, saw a lot of changes over the last two years. A brand-new building at 431 Beach 129th Street replaced the old medical center in the middle of the block, which provided some opportunities for some moves and new additions. In April 2023, longtime Chinese restaurant, East Meets West, moved into one of the new spaces, allowing them to have a bigger dining area. In May 2023, Jade Events opened a brand-new chic event space for Rockaway to hold their  family parties, community events and more. In June 2023, Healthy Eats, a new bodega and deli opened in the new space, offering breakfast, sandwiches and basic groceries. In September 2023, Panino Rustico-Baya Bar teamed up to bring the best of both worlds to a shared location. Panino Rustico offers dozens of panini choices, wraps, crepes, coffees and more, while Baya Bar, the second location in Rockaway, offers a variety of smoothie bowls like acai, plus smoothies, juices and more. At 421A Beach 129th, Belle Harbor got its first shoe store in December 2023, when Sneaker Gallery opened, offering your favorite brands of sneakers and Uggs for all ages. Coming in the future on Beach 129th is Peninsula Pediatrics. The pediatrician office will be making a move from their current office on Beach 121st Street, to a brand-new facility that is under construction.

Another big commercial strip, Rockaway Park’s Beach 116th Street and the surrounding area, has also had several changes over the last year. Last year was the year of the barber shops and hair salons in Rockaway. It all started when Rami’s Barber Shop opened in October 2023 at 257 Beach 116th Street, offering men’s, women’s and children’s haircuts. Then, in December 2023, longtime barber, Frankie Ritorto, son of the beloved late Rockaway barber Rocco, opened Frankie’s Barbershop right off of Beach 116th Street at 115-06 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Beach 116th also got some new food options. In November 2023, Anny’s Restaurant opened at 155 Beach 116th Street, bringing Ecuadorian cuisine like ceviche and rice dishes to the block. Then in February 2024, Ciro’s by the Beach was sold but landed in good hands with The Meat Up Grill’s Michael Fiore buying it and opening Crustinos Pizza (171 Beach 116th Street), a new pizza shop that puts the spotlight on the crust with its Roman style squares, plus other specialty slices and Italian delicacies. Most recently, E Sushi III took over Sakura, opening a new Japanese restaurant at 215 Beach 116th Street. Some might know them from their other location in Brooklyn, but all sushi lovers are sure to love this one with their all-you-can-eat sushi specials for adults and kids, plus other Japanese delicacies.

The Rockaway Beach area had some welcome new additions to the mix. In June 2023, Smoke and Barrel replaced RBQ, with pitmaster Brian Baldwin’s own take on barbecue. The smoked meats and flavorful sides, with southern cocktails to wash it all down, are not to be missed at 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd.  Around November 2023, The B.R.I.D.G.E. Family Enrichment Center opened at 217 Beach 92nd Street. Standing for “Build Relationships, Inspire Development, Growth and Excellence,” this community center offers a variety of services and resources to help the community (See fecthebridge on Instagram). Rounding out the new hair services, beloved barber Gus opened his own space, His & Hers Salon at 92-03 Rockaway Beach Blvd., offering men’s, women’s and children’s haircuts, manicures, waxing, massages and more. In July 2023, the Surf Lot, a cool new spot offering coffee, CBD products, surf lockers, live music and wellness events and more, opened at 189 Beach 96th Street.

In the Arverne area, not too much has changed, but it’s been as bustling as ever.  Around May 2023, the Arverne East Nature Preserve and its visitor center at Beach 44th and Rockaway Beach Blvd., was completed, with the official grand opening held this past April. Boasting a variety of flora and fauna, different bird species and other wild critters, this new preserve is an environmentally friendly escape in an urban area, with paved pathways to take it all in on a walk. It’s all part of the bigger Arverne East Development that is in the works, bringing new housing, retail, a boutique hotel and community spaces to the underdeveloped Arverne East area from Beach 32nd to Beach 56th Place.

Downtown Far Rockaway has seen a plethora of new development including new housing and infrastructure and even a brand-new Far Rockaway Library (1637 Central Ave.), which is finally expected to open this summer.

Before heading to Rockaway, make a stop in Broad Channel, before the Cross Bay Bridge, to see all that’s new there. In April 2023, Hook’s Pizza opened at 915 Cross Bay Blvd., and it’s been all the rave, with Rockaway locals frequently crossing the bridge to grab a slice. Then, top it off with some ice cream or an Italian ice nearby at My Mother’s Place 2, which opened in June 2023. Broad Channel also gave a big welcome to Adrienne’s (25 Van Brunt Road), a beautiful bayside spot that makes you feel like you’re on the Amalfi coast of Italy with their frozen cocktails and limoncellos and the late Chef Adrienne Guttieri’s signature rigatoni Bolognese.

While that may sound like a lot, there’s even more in store for the future of the peninsula. Rockaway is getting a tattoo shop this summer as Pete & Cubos of Ozone Park is opening a second location at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Unit 5 (see petencubosrb on Instagram). Sadly, Arverne by the Sea’s French restaurant Bar Marseille at 190 Beach 69th Street closed, but a new gastropub, Pilot House, is expected to open in its place this summer. Grab a drink and some grub, watch a game and enjoy the vibes.  Thao, an Asian Panamanian fusion BBQ restaurant, is also expected to open in Rockaway Park.

So come on back to the Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel. You never know what new place you’ll find. For more information on new openings and more details, make sure to check out The Rockaway Times’ weekly newspaper.

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