Jones Beach Unveils New Dining Options

There’s a smell of sunscreen in the air. The sound of music blares from portable speakers. Brightly colored towels decorate the sand. That’s right. Beach season is finally here, once more!

Maybe it’s the sun, or the salt air, or the water, but whatever it is there is something about the beach that always seems to leave you starving. But dining a la beach presents a unique set of challenges, most of them involving sand.

“We strive to find products, items and ingredients that both reflect the great heritage of the park while incorporating the fantastic array of local products that keep pace with current tastes and dietary trends,” Rick Biglin, the Centerplate district manager at Jones Beach said. “Fresh, local and fun are the ingredients of the perfect dish for Jones Beach.”

With the help of local chef Tom Schaudel (above), the dining options at Jones Beach have wildly expanded and improved over the past year. • Photo by Jim Lennon

Say “Long Island beach” to an out-of-towner and chances are they’re thinking Hamptons, but for locals Jones Beach is often what first comes to the mind. With the help of Long Island chef Tom Schaudel, international dining firm Centerplate, which took over the dining options at Jones Beach’s food venues in 2016 (the Central Mall, East and West Bathhouses, Fields 1, 2 and 6 and Zach’s Bay) modernized dining options, adding many local options. Though Centerplate is now entering its second year of managing the food options at Jones Beach there are plenty of new additions for the 2017 season as well as some old favorites.

“The Centerplate team has been hard at work over the offseason trying to enhance the taste of Long Island that beachgoers will get at Jones Beach this summer,” Biglin said.

Here’s what to expect at Jones Beach this summer:

Old Favorites Return

Don’t worry; the chicken tenders will return! • Photo by Alexa Loves Books

If you happened by Jones Beach last summer, chances are you had or at least saw beachgoers eating baskets of  chicken tenders. Among all the new food options introduced last year (lobster nachos, quinoa salad, shrimp scampi) the chicken tender basket was the top seller.

“Don’t expect that to change!” Biglin said.

Betting on New Favorites

Pizza tastes better by the ocean. • Photo by Alexa Loves Books

While that chicken tender basket was what beachgoers craved in 2016, the race is on to see what will be this year’s favorite. Among the contenders: a  new shrimp boat, a seashore classic with a local twist of incorporating cocktail sauce made with Long Island horseradish, and at the Central Mall building’s new full bar, sticky chicken wings, a pickle brined chicken sandwich and clam fritters.

Classic Beach Fare

There will always be hotdogs and hamburgers at Jones Beach. • Photo by Serious Eats

For more than 80 years Jones Beach has been synonymous with summer. When it opened on Aug. 4, 1929, the beach was the place to be and while the park has gone through its fair share of changes throughout the years, classic beach fare has pretty much stayed the same. There will always be hot dogs and hamburgers at Jones Beach, but expect to see those staples in new ways and on locally sourced buns and rolls.

Local Brews

Beer from Lithology Brewing Company in Farmingdale is a new addition to the roster of craft beers available at Jones Beach. • Photo courtesy of Lithology Brewing Co.

Whether you like your beer dark or hoppy, sour or fruity, or simply something that tastes good on a hot day, there’s little doubt we’re living in a golden age of brews. According to Taste of NY, the number of craft breweries in New York State has grown by 542% since 2011, and Long Island is evolving into one of New York’s craft brew hubs.

“In line with this momentum, and to help support the local economy, we are expanding our offerings of Long Island regional wines and locally brewed beers,” Biglin said.

Of the new offerings in 2017 is beer from Lithology Brewing Company in Farmingdale.