Aycock plans a steamed burgers cafe in Rockaway


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Whitney Aycock, the beloved pizza nazi of Rockaway, has announced plans to open a new burgers-and-beer restaurant in Arverne in 2015.

The still unnamed restaurant will be located in the Seaway Marina in the old Bent Rod café. The space has been abandoned for several years, and renovations are slated to start soon for an April 2015 opening. With breathtaking views of Jamaica Bay, just east of the A train trestle, Aycock’s new venture is sure to draw in visitors to the bayside streets of Arverne.

Inspired by the steamed cheeseburgers of Ted’s Restaurant in Connecticut, Aycock plans on a menu of “really simple food, done well. Ice cold beer, burgers, sea food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing fancy.” The café will cater primarily to the boat owners in the marina, but “everybody is welcome.”

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“The building alone has so much history,” said Aycock on a windy, but clear afternoon just days before Christmas. “Structurally it’s okay. It resembles a tug, and we’ll try to keep that. Put a deck up top, and extend the deck out front.”

“I’m happy in Rockaway,“ the pensive chef said. “I like doing different things. It’s how I work.” He said he has no plans to close Whit’s End to focus on the marina café.

But even in this far-flung section of Queens, the realities of the New York real estate market must be considered. The building that houses Whit’s End has just been listed for sale. While that would not immediately impact the pizzeria or the adjoining Playland Motel, Aycock is hedging his bets. “That makes me more interested in the other ideas I have.”