Sandy Shmandy: Rockaway Beach is getting a wine bar
Hurricane Sandy may have ravaged the Rockaways, but there's a sign that the piecemeal gentrification of the barrier peninsula is continuing apace: the neighborhood is getting its very own wine bar.
It's called Sayra's Wine Bar, and Rashida Jackson, the Rockaway native behind it, plans to open by summer.
"It’s basically a surf wine bar," she told me on Wednesday.
Sayra's, an acronym made of the first letters of her sisters' names, will feature wine from different surf regions around the world, and tapas like crostini and meatballs. Glasses will start at $6 and tapas at $4.
Jackson, a 35-year-old Fort Greene bartender, amateur surfer and Rockaway resident, said Sayra will also serve beer and sake cocktails.
And the ambience?
"It’s pretty laid back," she said. "You can come with your flip-flops."
Jackson's business partner, an artist named Patrick Flibotte, is designing the bar's interior.
This will be the first wine bar to open in the Rockaways, as far as Jackson knows.
But it would seem to fit the neighborhood's changing summertime demographic.
In recent years, the Rockaways have become a beachfront outpost for creative types who live in Brooklyn, complete with gourmet boardwalk concessions and a direct, Williamsburg-to-Rockaways shuttle called the Rockabus.
It's too early to say whether Hurricane Sandy has thrown a wrench in all that.
The boardwalk concessions (which are made of concrete) are supposed to reopen this summer, but the boardwalk (which was mostly made of wood before it washed away) won't be rebuilt for a while yet.
"This reflects Rashida and Patrick’s belief that the newcomers to Rockaway have different tastes than the historical visitors to Rockaway," said her landlord, Deuces car service owner Vince Castellano. "We’ll see once they open if their expectation is correct. To some extent, I’m sympathetic to their assumption."
The wine bar will occupy a storefront with a backyard at 9111 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between 91st and 92nd streets, just around the corner from the popular Boarders surf shop.
Jackson signed her lease just two months before Sandy flooded both the storefront and her home on 86th Street.
Now, nearly five months later, her home has been nearly rebuilt, and the wine bar is almost finished.
After Hurricane Sandy, a lot of people told Jackson that perhaps she shouldn't open the wine bar after all.
"But my heart is in Rockaway, so I couldn't," she said. "I had to stay with the program and stay strong and positive."