Memories at The Island Mermaid

The Island Mermaid

780 Bay Walk • Ocean Beach

631-583-8088 •

Catering and take-out available


By Shoshanna McCollum

Recently I did the math. Coming to Fire Island in 1994, I have spent 28 years here. At 56 years old this means I have spent half my life in Ocean Beach. The time went quickly. These years were often punctuated with memories at The Island Mermaid. There was that first lunch date with a gentleman on their sunny deck, and late-night drinks with another as a single young woman in the 1990s. As a married lady in the early new century, my husband and I went there for dinner with friends from out of town on a crowded weeknight when proprietor Scott Hirsch met my eye and made sure we got a table. Then there was the evening performance artist Ariel Sinclair gently squeezed my hand when I came by with my camera to cover Wednesday night Bitchy Bingo.


As Scott made a point of mentioning to me during a recent lunch with a girlfriend, The Island Mermaid has been in operation for 32 years this summer. There are reasons for its success.

First let’s talk about location: their sprawling deck across from the ferry terminal is maybe the best people watching spot in Ocean Beach – it is a place to see and be seen. Then there is its private marina, making it a favorite for Great South Bay boaters. Their entertainment and nightlife are another big draw – Island Mermaid offers bodacious entertainment acts more often associated with the Fire Island’s Cherry Grove and FI Pines communities – most notably burlesque-style drag acts, like the upcoming premier of “Fire Island Follies” on June 30, starting at 9 p.m.

And of course, there is the food – imaginative cuisine is what keeps us coming back to The Island Mermaid. Thoughtfully curated entrees and crafted sauces with a varied menu makes things interesting.

Today lunch is on the menu, and I go for the Turkey Ranch Club panini with bacon, cheddar and tomato on sourdough. Barbara was intrigued by one of their specials: Tempura sesame chicken with Asian pear slaw on a brioche bun. The tempura chicken was popular that afternoon, I saw several go by on trays before we were served – which was not long by the way.

The staff is fast and efficient, both on the floor and in the kitchen, which of course is another part of their recipe for success.

I’m going to say something for the record right now: The Island Mermaid is arguably making some of the best fries on Fire Island right now – maybe South Shore Long Island for all I know. I’ve had too many meals spoiled by less than satisfactory fries, so know that paying attention to the staples is also important, and Scott’s crew knows this too.

My panini was such a generous portion that I took home the other half for later, and I loved the sourdough bread. As for Barbara’s sandwich, it was piled high tempura chicken meat. I was a bit jealous, and hope this creation returns as a daily special soon.

Sitting there on a sunny almost summer day with colorful cocktails and flowers on the table came with the promise of more memories to be made on Fire Island – so raise a toast.