At Diner by the Sea in Long Beach, milkshakes are...

At Diner by the Sea in Long Beach, milkshakes are made with all sorts of crazy ingredients, like this one with birthday cake batter. Credit: Handout

Katerina Langis counts her blessings. Her family’s Long Beach restaurant, Diner by the Sea, was flooded by superstorm Sandy, but the losses were limited to all of the food and a few refrigerators. A week later, the diner reopened, although Langis estimates that 40 per cent of the customers still haven’t returned to their homes in Long Beach.

What customers they have are feasting on Diner by the Sea’s inventive (some might say nutty) milkshakes. “It started with the Nutella shake,” Langis said. “We blend vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla syrup and a scoop of Nutella, and it’s just magic the way the Nutella blends into the ice cream. It was an instant hit.”

Thus emboldened, the diner began serving up Cap'n Crunch shakes, cinnamon bun shakes (cinnamon ice cream blended with cream-cheese frosting), birthday-cake batter shakes (made with cake batter and sprinkles). To make them even more eye-catching, the shakes get drizzled with colored syrup and sprinkled with colored sugar. They are served with extra-wide “bubble tea” straws to accommodate the bits and chunks. All shakes are $6.25.

“It sounds crazy,” Langis said, “but for us they’ve been a glimmer of hope.” It’s also become a ritual for some still-displaced families. “They come to Long Beach, check in on their home, then bring the kids in for a milkshake.”

Diner by the Sea is at 260 E. Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-431-2233.