This summer marks Castaway Bar & Grill’s 15th anniversary in Ocean Beach on Fire Island, and the restaurant is getting some new digs to ring in the big milestone.
Owner Jonathan Randazzo was just 21 years old when he opened Castaway at 310 Bay Walk in the bustling beach community.
He says it holds a special place in his heart.
At the time, he was running the notable ice cream spot Scoops with a friend — one day the restaurant space next door opened up, the landlord came up to Randazzo and said “you want it?”
The young entrepreneur replied, “yeah, sure!”
Fifteen years later, he’s preparing to reopen Castaway in its new location at 927 Evergreen Walk, where the former Bocce Beach served the community for 31 years.
Today, Randazzo owns four restaurants and two ice cream spots in Ocean Beach, including The Landing restaurant, Baywalk Café, and another ice cream shop called Beaches & Cream.
Randazzo can stroll from one of his establishments to the next.
“[Castaway] was the third business I ever opened and my first restaurant,” he said. “To better serve the community out there, I thought it would be better to grow the Castaway brand that already has such a good name with all the people out there.”
Randazzo said the new and improved Castaway will open its doors to the public April 15, just in time for the restaurant’s special birthday.
Castaway will be completely revamped and have triple the indoor dining capacity compared to the old spot.
Their outdoor deck, which the old restaurant location never had, can seat up to 100 people.
Although many were saddened to hear the news of Bocce Beach’s closure, Randazzo says he plans on honoring the longtime bar’s roots in the village.
“We’ve really brightened it up. We’ve added some pops of color. It looks really tropical and I think people are really going to enjoy the new vibe,” he said. “We’re trying to keep some of the old Bocce charm and even the employees too. We offered them a job to work at Castaway. That’s all very important out there.”
The Castaway kitchen is also revamping the place’s menu.
Coming soon: Read all about what’s coming to the old Castaway
Chef Keoni Dix was hired last year and will continue to run the kitchen in the new Castaway. He plans to elevate the restaurant’s food by incorporating his Hawaiian roots into the new menu.
Randazzo said the Castaway staff is like a “second, third, fourth family” to him. Many of his employees started scooping ice cream as kids and grew up working in his restaurants, some up until leaving for college.
This summer, he will have over 150 employees working with him.
He says he is grateful to his staff, and the community that has grown around Castaway over the years.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge for all the seasonal restaurants on Fire Island last year, but the locals, renters, and day-trippers stepped up their support.
“We’ve made friends from all over the island, all over the world there, and so it’s great for them to be able to see us and our team grow,” he said. “I’m very lucky with the staff, they’re all so great and they are the ones that make the restaurants and ice cream stores really stand out.”
Castaway Bar & Grill will be open seven days a week starting April 15 up until Veteran’s Day in November. Continue to follow greaterlongisland.com for updates.