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Aug 1, 2008 12:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Beach Treats offers beach visitors healthy snacks

Aug 1, 2008 12:12 PM

Hungry beach-goers will find typical ice-cream truck fare at Beach Treats, a concession stand set up in the parking lot for Pike’s Beach in the Village of West Hampton Dunes. But in addition to cool treats like snow cones, Chipwich ice cream sandwiches and Push-Up pops, the menu at Beach Treats features healthier, upscale snacks, like Ciao Bella Gelato, Terra Chips and croissants.

The Beach Treats truck is owned by business partners Maria Roussos and Denise DeSarlo, who also happen to be floral designers. Even though there is not direct connection between flowers and ice cream, the partners said they came up with idea for the concession stand about a year ago.

“We’ve been playing with the idea over the years of doing something with food,” Ms. Roussos said. “It was Denise’s idea to do food—she caters and cooks very well.”

The artistic flare of the two women are evident in the set-up and design of the bright yellow Beach Treats truck. Ms. Roussos pointed out the rainbow-colored umbrella mounted on the exterior of the truck, while Ms. DeSarlo noted the colorful welcome mat, imprinted with daisies and placed in front of the truck’s window. Ms. Roussos said the truck, purchased at a ice cream vendor from Wyandanch, was originally yellow and white. She and Ms. DeSarlo added the graphics—the pictures of the ice cream cones, logos and food items.

“It’s fun and creative, and some display work went into this,” Ms. DeSarlo said.

Formerly a vegan and now a vegetarian, Ms. DeSarlo said she wanted to accommodate a wide variety of customers when coming up with the Beach Treat’s menu.

“We’re very accommodating, we offer sugar-free ice cream, nuts, fruit and Fuze drinks,” Ms. DeSarlo explained, noting that she has had a lot of exposure to food while working as a floral designer for a variety of restaurants, such as Vespa in Great Neck and Cafe Gray in Manhattan.

Mary Sullivan, the head lifeguard at the Southampton Town-owned Pike’s Beach, said that prior to Beach Treats’ arrival this summer, there were no food concessions at the beach.

“I eat there all the time, I think it’s great,” Ms. Sullivan said. “They always have healthy food and I enjoy their presence at the beach. It gives people something to do when they get here.”

Ms. Roussos said she and Ms. DeSarlo, who live together in East Quogue, started their gourmet ice cream truck business almost as a joke. Ms. Roussos explained that they always wanted to combine their common interests of flowers and food. Initially, the partners said they were looking into buying a store in the Village of Westhampton Beach and opening a gelato shop. But, Ms. Roussos said, because of the lagging economy, she and Ms. DeSarlo decided to go into the ice cream truck business instead.

In addition to having a vending license, Ms. Roussos explained that the business, based out of a brightly-painted vintage 1977 International Mobile truck, operates with a Town of Southampton mobile concession permit. She received the permit from the town in late May.

Ms. Roussos explained that she and Ms. DeSarlo bid on obtaining permits at both Mecox Beach in Bridgehampton and Pike’s Beach, but opted for the latter to avoid sitting in traffic. The permit allows them to vend from Memorial Day until Labor Day, though the truck has only been open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., since June 28, Ms. Roussos said.

Prior to moving to East Quogue and opening Beach Treats, Ms. Roussos and Ms. DeSarlo both worked at some of Manhattan’s largest event and floral firms, such as Preston Bailey and David Tutera. Ms. Roussos noted that Bill and Hillary Clinton were clients at her former floral shop, William Weber in Chappaqua, New York, and that she worked on the floral arrangements at Star Jones’s wedding in 2004—where she and Ms. DeSarlo first met. The couple now own DMD Designs, a floral and event company based in East Quogue.

Kim Williams and her daughter Kennedy, both regulars at Pike’s Beach and residents of Westhampton Beach, fit right in at the bright yellow stand with their brightly colored towels on Friday afternoon. Kennedy said she enjoys Beach Treats, though she usually opts for the one of the more traditional menu choices: ice cream.

“I like ice cream,” said Kennedy, a student at Westhampton Beach middle school. “It’s hot out.”

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By TrayC27, Southampton on Oct 3, 10 9:41 PM