Ziv Karasanti did not plan on being in the coffee business. His family moved to Rockaway almost 20 years ago, after a house opened up three doors down from his brother. He and his wife, Susan, started the business Little Dudes and Divas when Susan realized she could resell the clothes their kids were outgrowing online, sometimes for more than what they had originally paid.
They started operating from their basement, but soon opened a warehouse on Beach 116th Street, one of the main business corridors in Rockaway. They found that stocking clothing was too volatile, so they switched things up to children’s accessories and diaper bags. They did very well for a few years with 99% of their operations online, but Amazon was on the rise and starting to beat them in prices more and more often. They downsized and moved the business back to their basement just as Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.
Similar to many of his fellow Rockaway neighbors, Karasanti lost everything in Sandy. However, he doesn’t regret how the neighborhood emerged after the storm. “I think Sandy kind of shaped the neighborhood today,” Karasanti says. Before, there was no real movement to get additional businesses started here. “After Sandy, we were put on the map just because of everything that happened here, and people started to recognize that this is a beautiful, small, beach community, there’s no other place in New York that has the same feel.”
Karasanti and his business partner, Joe Mastey, who owned a health food store in Brooklyn for years, mulled over the idea of starting one on the peninsula. At the time they were spending a lot of time at Crom Physical Culture and through conversations with fellow surfers and CrossFit members at the gym, they quickly realized there was a bigger need – in coffee. Karasanti says, “There was always talk about how there was no place to buy coffee. The only place you could really get coffee was the Dunkin Donuts on Beach 116th Street. So we said ‘hey, you know there’s something missing here.’”
This is how Rockaway Roasters was born. With the help of a connection who owned and operated other coffee shops, Mastey and Karasanti got started looking for the right location. Uma’s had just opened on Beach 92nd Street and the restaurant was doing pretty well. The people that were hanging out there were also going to the gym, or they were watching surfing at the bar, they frequented Boarders Surf Shop and Station RBNY around the corner. Beach 92nd Street seemed like the right fit.
They created a space that had the hipster-surfing vibe of a small town coffee shop in a newly renovated building. That first year in 2015 was hard, but now they’ve seen more and more people who start off as new faces and become regular customers. They also have included healthy juices, fruits, protein shakes, delicious shakshuka, soup, salads, and sandwiches on the menu as well. If you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up or just want to lay low for a little while after catching some waves, Rockaway Roasters is the perfect spot to check out next time you’re in the neighborhood.
Rockaway Roasters is located at 92-06 Rockaway Beach Blvd. just a few blocks from our East Shuttle Bus route with stops at Beach 96th Street or Beach 86th Street on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, or a 21 minute walk from the NYC Ferry Landing at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive.