In a year when businesses have had to be flexible, the owners of several Fire Island eateries have banded together to offer visitors a reason to drop by after Labor Day weekend.
“Initially, we struggled with the idea of staying open after Labor Day” after an unusual season, says Jacquelyn Piazza, owner of Cherry’s On The Bay in Cherry Grove. However, the decision to stay open was fueled by the support she and her fellow business owners received from visitors. "Our hope is that the weather will cooperate, allowing us to utilize our outdoor venues to offer our loyal customers a little bit of summer in September."
Cherry Grove is not the only place where businesses are trying for a successful early fall. Chris Mercogliano, co-president of the Ocean Beach Chamber of Commerce and owner of both the Palms Hotel and CJ's explains, “We have been advocating all [Ocean Beach] businesses to stay open as long as possible … We feel with many people fleeing the city, Ocean Beach will be a viable destination through the fall.”
Here’s a breakdown of the suddenly plentiful options of things to do on Fire Island this September. Check fireislandferries.com for updated ferry schedules before you head out.
Of all the areas of Fire Island, this is the closest to a year-round community. CJ’s Restaurant and Bar (479 Bay Walk; 631-582-9890, palmshotelfireisland.com) is slated to serve food and drink all year, and its sibling The Palms Hotel (168 Cottage Walk; 631-583-8870, palmshotelfireisland.com) will be open for stays.
One spot with a price-breaking deal is Maguire's Bayfront Restaurant (1 Bay Walk; 631-583-8800, maguiresbayfrontrestaurant.com): In September, Thursdays through Mondays, if you take a water taxi there same-day (starting at 4:30 p.m. from departure points between Kismet and the Pines), and purchase a full-price dinner entree, the restaurant will cover the return ride.
A handful of other restaurants including Castaway Bar & Grill, The Landing at Ocean Beach and Bocce Beach will also keep their menus going into fall. Matthew's Seafood House (935 Bay Walk; 631-583-8016, matthewsseafood.com) is planning on remaining open through September on Wednesdays through Fridays for dinner (including its “Margarita Madness” event starting 9:30 p.m. Thursdays), then lunch, supper and late nights Saturdays and Sundays before switching to weekends only in October until Columbus Day.
Then again, if you’d rather just go for something sweet, Scoops ice cream parlor (310 Bay Walk; 631-583-5173) will keep serving its frozen treats until Columbus Day.
The drag shows are on hold, but you can still enjoy the friendly vibe the Grove is also famous for. Piazza says Cherry’s On The Bay (158 Bayview Walk; 631-597-7859, cherrysonthebay.com) will be open until Columbus Day weekend — and feel free to bring your leashed dog, as it’s very dog-friendly. The Island Breeze (178 Bayview Walk; 631-597-9111, theislandbreeze.com) is also eyeing Columbus Day; as is Cherry Grove Pizza (179 Ocean Walk; 516-597-6766). Top Of The Bay Bistro (1 Dock Walk; 631-597-6028, topofthebaycherrygrove.com) is located on the second floor of its building, which provides wonderful bay views. And while Top of the Bay is going for Columbus Day as well, Sand Castle On The Ocean (106 Lewis Walk; 631-597-4174, fireislandsandcastle.com), which looks out on the Atlantic, will stay open until Sept. 20.
Kismet is often considered quieter than its neighboring communities, especially in the offseason, but a unique wine tasting event at Fire Island Tap (177 Pine St.; 631-583-9463), located on the premises of the Margarita Villas beach resort, is slated to attract visitors through September. Come 6 p.m. Thursdays and 5 p.m. Saturdays the spot will host $50 wine and cheese pairing events (Sept. 10, 12: “Old World Wine Regions; ” Sept. 17, 19: “New World Wine Regions; Sept. 24, 26: “Kismet Favorites”).
“People that can work remotely are taking advantage of postseason rentals that have historically been offered at a discount after Labor Day,” says Fire Island Tap owner Jake Perdie. That is why “we decided to continue to offer wine tasting events that are limited to 20 people outdoors.” Tickets are available at fitap.square.site; pay half in advance and the other half on the day of the event.
Margarita Villas is also staying open for those looking for a place to stay during an early fall hotel trip. Owner and manager Greg Pecoraro says business has been "booming" and he plans to stay open until the end of October for rentals.
While in Kismet, you can dine at Surf's Out (1 Bay Walk; 631-583-7400; surfsout.com) — which has a popular courtyard space — until the last week of September, noon-9 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
OCEAN BAY PARK
The Fire Island Beach House (25 Cayuga Walk; 631-583-8000, thefibh.com), a new boutique hotel with a pool and a restaurant, is remaining open daily through Sept 13; then Thursdays through Sundays until Oct. 4.
The popular Flynn’s (1 Cayuga St.; 631-583-5000, flynnsfireislandny.com) is planning to offer lunch and dinner weekends until Sept. 21 (management highly recommends calling first), while Schooner Inn (57 Bay View Walk.; 631-583-8498, schoonerinnfireisland.com) with its lovely bay seating is expecting to stay in operation until Columbus Day. Beach Street Pizza & Grille and M&M's Ice Cream Parlor, which share the same building, will do the same.
BIKE AND EXPLORE
As summer turns to fall, fewer pedestrians tend to fill the walks — making it an excellent place to ride a bike. Be prepared to take it reasonably slow (the general Fire Island speed limit for all vehicles is 8 mph). You can’t bring your bike on a ferry, but Ocean Beach Hardware (482 Bayberry Walk; 631-583-5826, oceanbeachhardware.com) will be renting bikes for daily and weekly use until Oct. 15 (reserve online) and Kismet Bike Rentals (41 Maple Ct.; 516-220-1764) will be offering weekly, weekend and midweek rentals until the end of October.
The iconic Fire Island Lighthouse (1 Burma Rd., Fire Island National Seashore; 631-661-4876, fireislandlighthouse.com), which is over 160 years old, is expecting to stay open for climbers (up to seven at a time) all year.
One more thing to consider trying is flying with Fire Island Parasail (631-988-8445; fireislandparasail.com). If you’d like to try a ride in the sky, the company will be open in September based on demand and by reservation only. Post-Labor Day flights will take place out of Ocean Bay Park; parasailing is $85 while anyone coming along just to watch pays $20. Book online in advance.