Local Business Spotlight: Dred Surfer Grill
Charles Jacobs is the proud owner of the Dred Surfer Grill, located on Beach 17th, which provides quick bites with traditional Caribbean dishes. Jacobs’ grassroots business practices include working hard and simply enjoying his work. These practices have provided the foundation to create East Rockaway only concession stand that provides services all year round. Jacobs believes that it doesn’t take a special trick in order to have a successful business. “No big secret to what we do, we just work hard and enjoy what we do,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs moved to Arverne by the Sea 14 years ago, and as one of the first homeowners in that area he became deeply involved in his community. He was the former treasurer of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance before adding business owner to the top of that list.
Before Dred Surfer took its permanent spot on Beach 17th, it was actually a mobile trailer that would sell smoothies and other refreshments on the boardwalk. During that time Jacobs saw the potential that his current location had, and finally took a chance to build something beautiful. “I saw potential for the spot, not just as a concession stand, but as a full blown restaurant. That’s when I talked to Parks and received the location in 2013.” said Jacobs.
Now the space is a way for the community to enjoy free entertainment from local reggae artists to open mic nights. From the beginning Jacobs put his focus on how the community could benefit from the business. “We do a lot for the community, so that they can enjoy the space that we’ve provided.” said Jacobs.
Jacobs is longtime friends with some of the owners of the concession stands on the westside of the boardwalk and feels that there is a divide in the peninsula, but accepts that it’s just business. “They have a following and wherever they’re going people will follow” said Jacobs. But he’s also concerned that people in this community doesn’t put their money into the community they live in.
“The community complains that there isn’t enough here, but they don’t put the money where their money is. If something is missing then, build it!” said Jacobs
The Dred Surfer’s end goal is to be a high end restaurant on the boardwalk, but feels the restrictions of the NYC Parks Department to kick start its expansion. Jacobs would like to start serving mixed alcoholic drinks and extend their hours so they can have more revenue to renovate the business, but NYC Parks Department makes it hard to make that a reality.
With four more years left in his contract, he said that he will have his dream of being a restaurant come into fruition as long as he is in good health — and as long as the Parks restrictions don’t become too much to handle. Dred Surfer Grill has been around for now five years serving delicious Caribbean meals and will continue its efforts to support the community it for years to come.