Chris Saeli poses with his $100 prize from winning Longboards’ hot dog contest.
The sky over Hamburg Beach is a cloudless and brilliant blue, complimenting the currently calm waters of Lake Erie.
“I open the windows and this is what I see,” says Nancy Maisano as she gestures to the beach before her. The recently combed sand is empty, save for a few people practicing yoga in the late morning sunlight and the scattered clusters of unhurried gulls.
With the view that greets her each morning, it is easy to see why Maisano loves to go to work.
“It doesn’t get better than this,” she says.
The Hamburg resident recently took over the concessions stand at Hamburg Town Park. Previously manned by the town, Maisano reopened the establishment this past June as Longboards at the Beach, where she and her dedicated crew “surf it up with love.”
Due to Maisano’s inexhaustible energy and abundance of creative ideas, Longboards is not just a concessions stand — it’s a destination.
A colorful vintage surfboard serves as the restaurant’s sign, hung underneath an awning of faux Hawaiian grass. The menu, which is also displayed on surfboards, includes items far more imaginative than the average burger. Available foods include sweet potato fries, fried pickles and even a mozzarella stick stuffed inside a hot dog, sprinkled with cheddar, bacon bits and a drizzle of barbecue sauce. Dubbed “the Lifeguard Dog,” it was invented by the park’s own lifeguards.
Other menu items include “the Shipwreck” burger (consisting of a half-pound of beef, blue cheese, onion rings, barbecue sauce and french fries) pizza logs, chicken finger pizza (supplied from Blasdell pizza), veggie burgers and ice cream. Maisano has also been known to assemble fruit and cheese trays for people to snack on while they watch the sunset.
Next year, she hopes to carry dipped ice cream cones and gelato for her customers.
“We only serve what we’d want to eat ourselves,” said Maisano, adding that her food comes at a fair price.
A former Buffalo teacher, this is Maisano’s first venture into the business world. As a lover of water sports, including kayaking, boating and of course, surfing, Maisano said she “couldn’t resist” buying the stand and making it her own.
“We go to the Outer Banks every year with my family and that’s a real tradition. I feel that is what drew me to this, that family feeling. It inspires me,” she said.
Maisano added that she keeps her kayak at Longboards, and often takes it out on the lake before or after work.
“We are trying to work with the town and insurance to try to bring water sports here,” she said. She has already purchased paddle boards and hopes to be able to rent them out to customers.
She has also ordered Adirondack chairs for passerby to relax and take in the beach.
“We came in here with a charge and we did it up as big as we could,” said Maisano. “It’s just exploding.”
Last Saturday, Longboards held its inaugural hot dog eating contest.
“We had a pretty big turn out,” said Maisano, who added the winner received a $100 prize. “It was a ball.”
The restaurant will also hold a free movie night on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. A screen will be set up on the beach itself to watch “Dolphin Tale.” Maisano will be passing out popcorn for free.
“All you have to do is bring your chair and a blanket,” she said, adding she excited Longboards was able to sponsor such an event.
“I want to celebrate this community and give them something really special...a wholesome family event.”
While Maisano has certainly accomplished much in her first short season of business, she said that next summer will offer even more food and fun.
“Just look out for next year,” she said. “The wave is coming.”
Longboards at the Beach is open 11 a.m. until sunset seven days a week. Maisano hopes to keep the restaurant open this season for as long as the weather permits.