Something unexpected happened in the wake of the post–Hurricane Sandy reconstruction in the Rockaways. While longtime residents and businesses worked to rebuild the community, a new wave of young, creative entrepreneurs began putting down roots, helping to create a new Rockaway Beach. Among them is Abra Boero, whose year-and-a-half-old lifestyle boutique, Off Season, is the first spark in a retail scene that’s set to ignite.
Boero, a born-and-raised Manhattanite, never pictured herself living anywhere but the city — until she started visiting Rockaway Beach on the regular back in 2012, before the hurricane struck. Weekend trips turned into week-long vacations, and she moved to the peninsula permanently after meeting and marrying Domenic Boero (known around town as the unofficial mayor of the boardwalk), then the general manager and now co-owner of the beloved snack shack Rippers. “Something just clicked for me here,” she explains. “It’s a different type of beach scene, not California-boho or East Coast–preppy. It’s urban. It’s gritty. It reminds me of my childhood…but there’s a beach.”
Boero decided to funnel her energy and a decade of fashion-industry experience — she worked on Adidas’s collaboration team and headed up Chloé’s North American ready-to-wear division — into Off Season, her take on an “urban beach boutique.” She stocks a covetable mix of beauty products (locally made Goldie’s sunscreen), beach gear (custom-designed Turkish towels, blankets and bags made in collaboration with the Mexican design collective POCOAPOCO), and tongue-in-cheek souvenirs (the infamous “boobie mug”).
But the main draw is her clothing line, also called Off Season, which she created with veteran designer Judi Rosen. The two have pulled off a promise made by many designers but achieved by few: clothes that seamlessly go from beach to street — and vice versa. By blending natural fabrics, such as cotton and linen gauzes, with just-structured-enough shapes, they’ve made a collection whose pieces fit right in to a weekday wardrobe.
When Boero isn’t lining up the shop’s next guest designer-in-residence or hosting dinner parties in its back garden, she’s fulfilling her duties as Rockaway Beach’s self-appointed cheerleader-in-chief. (See sidebar for her tips on where she hangs out off the clock.)
92-12 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Rockaway Beach, Queens, offseasonnyc.com, check site for current store hours.
Boero’s Beach Guide
Where to shop…
“You have to go to Zingara Vintage; the crowning glory is owner Erin Silver’s 1960s/1970s terry cloth collection, which she painstakingly restores. End of the A — named because we’re the last stop on the A train — was the first retail pioneer out here. It started as a mobile fashion truck, but now they also have a store that’s great for small gifts.”
Zingara Vintage: 202 Beach 91st Street, zingaravintage.rocks (year round); End of the A: 437 Beach 129th Street, Belle Harbor, endofthea.com, 718-490-1412 (year round)
Where to eat and drink…
“God bless La Fruteria’s hippie egg breakfast sandwich — so simple, so delicious. At Rippers, it’s a toss-up what I love more: their fish torta or my husband, who makes them. Frozens, which is local-speak for a piña colada served in a Styrofoam cup with a cherry on top, make Connolly’s Bar a regular detour. If you’re sneaky, you can take it to go. And a midweek stop at Rockaway Beach Surf Club/Tacoway Beach for a fish taco and a Modelo always feels right.
“I’m at Uma’s weekly for fresh salads and plov, a beautiful rice dish. Chicks To Go is exactly what it sounds like: Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and sides — plantains, green rice — you can grab and take home…or to the train or to the beach. People eat it everywhere.
“I would eat at Whit’s End over every trendy hot spot in the city. The owner, Whitney Aycock, whose wild-child antics have made him a local celebrity, serves the best food on the peninsula. Rockaway Beach Bakery is slated to open this summer, and I am counting the days. Everything Tracy Obolsky — a Cookshop alum — does is legit.”
La Fruteria: Beach 97th Street Concessions, 347-721-4610 (summer only); Rippers: 86-01 Shore Front Parkway, 718-634-3034 (summer only); Connolly’s Bar: 155 Beach 95th Street, 718-474-2374 (summer only); Rockaway Beach Surf Club (year round)/Tacoway Beach (summer only): 302 Beach 87th Street, rockawaybeachsurfclub.com; Uma’s: 92-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, 718-318-9100 (year round); Chicks To Go: 97-02 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, chicks-togo.com, 718-945-4100 (year round); Whit’s End: 16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, whitsendnyc.com (year round); Rockaway Beach Bakery: opening soon
Where to crash…
“Since Playland Motel closed, places to stay have been tough to come by. Domenic and I are fixing up the apartment above Off Season to be a hotel extension of the shop, bookable on Airbnb as the Above Season Beach Loft. It should be ready by summer.”
More from the Voice’s spring fashion issue: