If you are reading this, you are likely not old enough to recall the bygone glory of Jones Beach. Developed by public official Robert Moses, the park opened the same year as the notorious stock market crash: 1929. The buildings all reflected the architecture of the times, Art Deco buildings made of sandstone and Barbizon brick. The park was, from the very beginning, a concrete depiction of the excess of an era; the materials used were among the most expensive, the decorous buildings designed to inspire awe.
Even in lean years, Jones Beach, with its dual bathhouses, played host to many a New Yorker seeking respite from the torturously hot city. But the food options deteriorated over time. Eventually, the concession stands were no more than overpriced hot dog hawkers. Pay for a dirty water dog and schlep an impossibly wide swath of sand to your perch at the water. People did this, because this was what people did.
On June 7, however, Gatsby on the Ocean—a revival of the West Bathhouse space that once housed Robert Moses’ 1931 Marine Dining Room—opened at Jones Beach, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the beach itself. Over the course of nearly a century, the Marine Dining Room had suffered many unfortunate renovations. At one point, it operated as a Friendly’s restaurant, with the interior modified to accommodate the antiseptic needs of that particular chain. The space has now been retrofitted, with a skylight and original beams once again within diners’ view. The aesthetic is pure “Roaring 30s,” a revival of Jones Beach during the fatter years.
Gatsby on the Ocean’s limited menu is currently posted online, and is likely to change with the season. Currently, the restaurant intends to remain open year-round, with the majority of its off-season business coming from holiday-specific events and catering (the renovated space has a large catering area, as well as a pool, bar, and dressing rooms for brides and grooms). The bridge’s lounge, with its ocean view, was once Robert Moses’s office. The groom’s lounge, which was once Moses’s private conference room, can also serve as a private entertaining space, with room for up to 20 guests.
The dining room, overseen by chef Andrew Helliwell of The Mansion at Glen Cove, can seat 260 people, with room for an additional 76 on a commodious patio. The formal space serves small plates, seafood-centric dishes, and locally grown and produced food, like its Roslyn sibling, Gatsby’s Landing. Some recent dishes include a New England-style lobster roll, pan-seared salmon with Dijon mustard and tarragon, and Littleneck clams steamed with lemon thyme. Once a week, on Thursdays, the restaurant will serve a “New York State of Mind” menu, focusing on ingredients grown specifically on Long Island and in New York State.
Gatsby on the Ocean is the fortunate beneficiary of restoration money, approved by Governor Cuomo in 2016. That money, intended to reinvigorate spaces ravaged by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, funded a restoration of the West Bathhouse, as well as the East and Central malls.
Read more about Jones Beach dining options here.