By Carol Britton Meyer and Hilary Jenison
(Photos courtesy of Diana and Chris Reale, select photos taken by Rose Lincoln originally for the Boston Globe).
What started as a Hingham family's adventures at Nantasket Beach and enjoyment of the arcade games turned into a business opportunity. And, one year after its grand opening and a major revitalization, Paragon Boardwalk is thriving, with big plans on the horizon.
Inspired by historical photos of Paragon Park and the natural features of the property, Chris and Diana Reale jumped at the chance in 2017 to buy the Boardwalk, which celebrates the Nantasket Beach area's art, history, and amusements.
This family-friendly venue attracts people of all ages. Kids love the games and adults enjoy playing Fascination -- a cross between bingo and ski ball where you win cash prizes and only one of three such games still operating in the U.S. There is also a restaurant, a craft beer hall with great drafts on tap (and a TV for all the big games), as well as a miniature golf course on the property in warmer weather.
"We thought it was an incredible opportunity to reimagine an iconic family destination -- a place for families from all over the South Shore and Greater Boston area and beyond to enjoy the beach and time together," said Diana. "We've had visitors who traveled for an hour or two to get here after reading about the renovations. Others used to go to Paragon Park back in the day and want to see what the area looks like now."
Before last year's opening, the arcade was overhauled with brand-new games and card system, along with a revamped kitchen and menu. "We've opened a restaurant space attached to the arcade," Diana added. "We also feel particularly proud of the fact that we've been able to highlight art from local artists throughout the property."
Further plans to enhance the property are underway. These plans include a seasonal open-air boardwalk featuring games, activities, a mezzanine with a view of the ocean, retail, and several food and beverage options that will be available from vendors working out of retrofitted shipping containers. Access will be from the George Washington Boulevard side of the building or from Nantasket Avenue, with landscaping to make it more appealing.
"We are extremely excited about continuing to make improvements to our existing businesses," Chris said. "In addition to researching the history of Paragon Park, we've spent time looking at iconic boardwalk destinations in Southern California and New Jersey for inspiration. There's a very deep connection to the history of this area -- what it meant to a lot of families back then and for what a lot of kids will remember from now."
The proposed plan calls for demolishing the structures between the Fascination building and La Dalat, both of which will remain and continue to operate. The plans are currently under review by Hull town boards. The timeframe for when the construction will start is not yet certain.
The goal is to get the new open-air boardwalk up and running by next summer, contingent on gaining town approvals. "If it happens sooner, all the better," General Manager Chas Boggini said.
Fun for all this spring and summer
This spring and summer, Paragon will be featuring a kids' concert series curated in partnership with local musician Aldous Collins, to highlight young local talent and include earlier family-friendly shows.
Paragon Boardwalk will also feature Family Pizza Night on Thursdays throughout the summer offering special deals on food, drinks, mini-golf, games, and more. Carrying on a longtime tradition, the Boardwalk will serve Joseph's pizza, which has been around for almost 100 years -- in the arcade this year. "We couldn't be more thrilled that Joseph's Pizza will live on at the Boardwalk," added Diana.
The arcade games attract some competitive fun for all, “the most coveted prize in the arcade is a trip for two to Hawaii, which will be awarded this fall to the holder of the highest ticket count," added Boggini.
The Paragon Boardwalk is currently open on weekdays -- from 2 to 8 p.m. and weekends from from noon to 8 p.m. During the summer, it will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is truly something for everyone at Paragon Boardwalk - you will have a blast. They have many special events so check out their Facebook and website pages often to find out the latest on what’s happening at the Boardwalk (paragonboardwalk.com).
Congrats to Chris and Diana, we can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Paragon Boardwalk.