Shore businesses recording boom as NJ approaches 2nd COVID summer
Businesses along the New Jersey coast are counting on you over the next few months to create a rebound from a pandemic-laced 2020 summer.
And so far, as we detail in part 2 of our multi-day series on summer at the shore, they're liking what they see.
"We anticipate a very, very busy summer," Eileen Crowley-Feehan, general manager of the Fun House stores in Asbury Park, told New Jersey 101.5.
Weekends at the souvenir shops "have been crazy," according to Crowley-Feehan, considering Memorial Day Weekend still hasn't arrived. And business during the week has been steadily increasing.
"People just seem to want to get out, and so they're coming in droves," she said.
Summer Fun in the Sun — Join Eric Scott 7 p.m. Thursday to hear from Jersey Shore mayors, representatives from the state’s biggest outdoor attractions as well as a panel of health and business experts in a special town hall about what the summer season will look like in New Jersey this year. Watch live at Facebook.com/NJ1015.
Lucky Leo's, an arcade on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, struggled to attract patrons last summer when it was given the green light to reopen in July. Folks were hesitant about indoor activities, particularly those with many touch points, according to owner Steve Whalen.
"I would sign paperwork right now that said you're going to do 80% or 85% of what you did in 2019," Whalen said. "We are running pretty good with 2019, which is remarkable."
A mask mandate remains in place for indoor establishments in the Garden State, but face coverings are no longer required in outdoor public places. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention edited its guidance this month to say that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a face covering or socially distance while indoors or outdoors.
A number of New Jersey's current coronavirus restrictions, including capacity limits at restaurants, will be scratched on May 19. Restaurants, though, must still keep parties six feet apart indoors and outdoors, at the bar and at tables, unless partitions are used.
"The six-foot distancing means that your bars aren't fully opened, and we can't open that many tables outside," said Tim McLoone, owner of McLoone's family of restaurants.
McLoone said his eateries have seen "summer-like numbers" in 2021 thanks to pleasant weather — so much so, they can't keep up with demand in spots.
"There's still a percentage of people, I believe, who will not be willing to go inside a restaurant, indefinitely," McLoone said. "Slowly, that's eroding."
Many towns at the shore are itching to see a full reopening. In part 3 of this series, New Jersey 101.5 chats with mayors and city leaders.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.