Life on Long Island
Nightlife going strong in The Grove
To the delight of residents and visitors alike – the summer season has kicked off on Fire Island, in spite of what superstorm Sandy damaged.
There is no question that a great deal of rebuilding and repair is still necessary -- but with nightlife always considered a major component of the Fire Island experience -- anyone concerned with the current state of the bars and clubs across the Great South Bay should know that not only are those spots generally open for business as usual, but many are receiving a solid turnout.
One municipality that has always been legendary for warm-weather parties is Cherry Grove, and a trip to the hamlet will reveal that good times are once again under way. (Furthermore, while “The Grove” -- as it is locally known -- is a predominately gay community, it is frequented by all sorts of adult fun-seekers.)
Much like other FI towns that offer nightlife, options in Cherry Grove are immediate upon simply departing the quay, starting with a trio of opportunities. Directly connected to the dock is the Top of the Bay Bistro (1 Dock Walk, 631-597-6028, topofthebaycherrygrove.com), a restaurant and lounge that serves its clientele a menu of New American items from a second-floor location, providing serious water views – but also features live music (on Thursdays and Sundays, from July 4-Sept.), and has notable bartender “Frankie Cocktail” advertised as working the Monday happy hour.
Immediately to its right is The Island Breeze (178 Bayview Walk, 631-597-9111), which is on ground level, but has outdoor seating right on the water’s edge. It too offers food, but gets a bit more animated than its elevated neighbor with a DJ on Wednesdays, live music on Thursdays and Saturdays plus a retro tunes soiree set for Fridays – as well as a large bar that opens at noon daily and sees a steady crowd. However, the eyes of anyone exiting the marina – especially at night – are bound to be drawn to the left of Top of the Bay, which is where Cherry’s is located.
Cherry’s on the Bay (158 Bayview Walk, 631-597-7859, cherrysonthebay.com) does offer a menu of American fare, but definitely leans nightlife-heavy. With a four-sided bar (that surrounds a brightly-lit “tree” of tiny red bulbs) and a dance floor, the Cherry’s entertainment roster is loaded with several DJs and drag performers (including the acclaimed Hedda Lettuce), while also featuring a full calendar of themed parties.
However, for really big bashes, one needs to also consider the legendary Ice Palace (1 Main Walk, 631-597-6020, grovehotel.com) – the large long-running bar, club and patio that’s connected to the Grove Hotel. With events held nightly, ranging from drag performances to dance parties and more, it has a large stage able to accommodate a sizeable audience (and is the home of the annual “Miss Fire Island” contest).
But before thinking everything is right off the wharf, there is also SandCastle on The Ocean, which requires a short walk to the Atlantic side of Cherry Grove (106 Lewis Walk, 631-597-4174, fireislandsandcastle.com). Once there, patrons can dine on American dishes, grab drinks and enjoy live music on Fridays (or come Sunday mornings for breakfast from 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.; a meal that is accompanied by a live flute performance).