Arverne: Off the Beaten Path Spots Show Potential

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 Could Arverne be the next Rockaway Beach? This relatively quiet, residential area is starting to be uncovered for the gem that it is. Plenty of development has taken place in Arverne over the past decade, but much of the focus has been on the south side of the train tracks in Arverne by the Sea. Now it seems that more are discovering the potential of the bayside and this secret spot is not so secret anymore.

Since it broke ground in 2002, Arverne by the Sea served as a catalyst for new growth on the south side of the neighborhood. Over the past 14 years, this area welcomed hundreds of new homes, a new supermarket in 2010, followed by a new commercial strip, as well as the much-anticipated YMCA, which opened in 2014. However, over the past year, the northern side of Arverne has been getting recognition. Although it has been a longtime established residential neighborhood, the limited commercial spots are being scooped up and utilized for ideas that are completely unique to the peninsula.

You may stop in Arverne for your car repair and service needs with places like Amstel and Casino already established in the area. Maybe you store your boat at Seaway Marina. Or maybe you’re in on the secret of how amazing the food is at Goody’s, a West Indian eatery that has been serving up delicacies like jerk chicken, oxtail and burgers on Beach 72nd Street since 1989. Yet lately, more action is taking place here, which is bringing people from all ends of the peninsula to this off-the-beaten path area.

Emmanuel Loncke was one of the first to see the commercial potential of his neighborhood recently. In May 2015, he brought Smoothie Haven, a walk-up shop that sells smoothies, protein shakes, acai bowls, salads, and most recently, Panini sandwiches, to 7416 Beach Channel Drive. He has also started to rent out part of the building for all sorts of events from parties to classes to meetings.

Not too far away, 415 Beach 72nd Street is the new home of Rockaway Brewing Company. Beer enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, Marcus Burnett and Ethan Long, started brewing beer out of their Rockaway home. With positive feedback on their homemade brew, they turned it into a business in 2010 and found their first location in Long Island City in 2012. Their product first made the rounds at local bars in kegs and cans. Always wanting to bring Rockaway Brewing Company back to Rockaway, the guys finally found a perfect opportunity within the Beach 72nd Street space that was once an EMS depot. The space officially opened as RBC’s new home in July 2016.

Pull up a chair at the bar or have a seat at a picnic table and try one of their eight locally-made beers on tap, or perhaps a wine or cider. People from around the peninsula are starting to do so. “It’s a good atmosphere,” co-owner Burnett said. “This space really speaks to the community. There’s a really diverse crowd from uptown, downtown, sidetown. Everyone comes together here, which is unique for Rockaway. I feel that a lot of establishments are pretty specific to a certain crowd, but because of our location and what we do, it brings a diverse group together into this big space where you can meet other people and have a really relaxed experience.” Currently, the brewery is just used as a taproom but the long-term plan is to relocate operations from LIC, where the beer is still currently produced, to the Rockaway location. The taproom will stay open. “This is a great addition to the neighborhood and we’re excited to have a local place to go to all year round,” longtime Arverne resident Glenn DiResto said.

Rockaway Brewing Company also helps other local small businesses through cross promotion. They don’t serve food, but have welcomed outside vendors like Last Dragon Pizza, Nae’s Italian Ices, Goody’s, and most recently, their new neighbor, Whitney Aycock of the former Whit’s End. Go further down Beach 72nd street and make a left on Thursby Avenue to the marina, where inside you’ll find Aycock’s new spot Ole Man Chill. Through owning a boat at the marina for nearly a decade, Aycock established himself and found peace within the quiet area, where he opened a new venture in the middle of the summer. The discreet location is as simple as can be with laid-back seating outside of a shack, but its value is found within Aycock’s notable cuisine featuring grilled items like his f*ing good burger and plenty of fish he often catches himself, plus the good conversation held between fishermen and friends. “I’ve created amazing friendships in that boatyard. It’s not about generating revenue there. There’s value in people,” Aycock said. “I like that the area has more of a neighborhood feel than commercial lots. I like that it’s a shack. It’s like living on the bayou, here with a shack that’s close enough to the world, but far enough away from it. It's where everybody gets that old man chill, a place that emits that vibe where you just let go of everything that’s aggravating. There’s just an ease of conversation, a sense of comfort and being outside is a huge plus,” Aycock said. Since the spot is outdoors, hours depend on the weather, but Aycock says he’ll keep it open for a while until he puts his full concentration on the new Whit’s End opening this month at Riis Park.

Arverne will have even more chill when Buddhist Insights starts offering their free meditation courses at their potential new  home on the corner of Beach 68th and Thursby Avenue.Earlier this week, they announced that the site may be the future home for classes. They're in the process of raising funds at  WWW.YOUCARING.COM/BUDDHISTINSIGHTS.

Local real estate agents see even more happening for the area in the future. “There's going to be a lot of appreciation and value in this area over the next few years. On the north side of the freeway you have this nice area where people don’t realize there are all these nice, older homes,” Maureen Walsh of Walsh Properties said. Commercial space, however, is limited. “There’s very little room for commercial space and this little hotspot is starting to get gobbled up by people in the area,” she said. However, she does see the potential for a 3,600 square-foot warehouse space across from Amstel Auto on Beach 74th Street that’s going for $750,000. “It could make another excellent brewery or small manufacturing site,” Walsh said.

From beers to burgers to Buddhism, Arverne could just be next hip spot in Rockaway.

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