Just don’t expect beach-inspired menu items, or décor, at this deli by the sea. Here, it’s all about ice hockey. Brand’s specialty heroes carry the nicknames of National Hockey League players.
The Dominator (chicken cutlet, melted Cheddar, bacon, blue cheese dressing, hot sauce) is the most popular sandwich at Brand’s, a tribute to the great Czech goalie Dominik Hasek.
The Messiah (roast pork, mozzarella, gravy, duck sauce, garlic bread) honors Mark Messier, who in 1994 led the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup victory in more than half a century. The Albanian Assassin (hot pastrami, fried bologna, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, mustard) is a nod to Messier’s onetime teammate Tie Domi.
Ashley Makuh ordered the Mr. Hockey (salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil and vinegar), hold the ham. The sandwich is a tribute to the Hall of Famer Gordie Howe.
Mr. Hockey is also the moniker by which the deli’s owner, Joe Brand, is known around Long Beach. For more than two decades, he has coached Long Beach High School’s hockey team, the Marines.
The 10:42 train from Penn Station brought another wave of customers. They joined a man with a sand-castle kit waiting beside the Rangers banner and the three lifeguards with tanned feet and no shoes huddled near a painting depicting a Rangers-Detroit Red Wings game.
Amy Coyle-Larson of Island Park, N.Y., walked in with her daughters, the 11-year-old twins Keira and Emma and 7-year-old Lilabelle. “As crowded as it looks, it’s faster than any other place and your order is always right,” she said. “Anywhere else — my kids are picky — nothing’s ever right.”
From the back counter, Mr. Brand announced a ready order: “A Big Cuban!” (in honor of Al Montoya, a goalie for the Montreal Canadiens). Three of Mr. Brand’s children — all hockey players — were among the seven workers out front. Joseph, 23, operated a meat slicer. Kevin, 21, packed bags. Erin, 22, scribbled phone orders.
Brand’s delivers to the beach in summer. From his perch at an umbrella-and-chair-rental stand, Nick Garibaldi, 19, called in an order. Forty minutes later, Vinny Frankini, 20, his co-worker, dashed across the hot sand to meet the deliveryman.
The breeze was briny. Frequent blasts of a lifeguard whistle punctuated the steady thrum of crashing surf. Lunchtime.
“How is it?” Mr. Garibaldi asked.
Mr. Frankini, toes curled in the sand, gripped a Dominator with both hands.
“Amazing,” he said.
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