Jersey Shore businesses welcome summer beach crowds

LONG BEACH ISLAND, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As schools start to let out, Jersey Shore beaches are filling up and business owners are happy to see it.

As people take a break from the beach, some grab a bite to eat at Woodies Drive-in in Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island.

"Being we don't have to wear the masks right now, it changed a lot of stuff. People want to get out," said Owner Peter Poulas.

And while Woodies fared pretty well during the pandemic, being a mostly drive-in, outside eatery, still, this year feels promising.

"It's going to be a better summer mentally for a lot of people too," said Poulas. "And they're more sure about going out and feeling safe and everything."

And visitors to LBI feel that, too.

"Just sitting here looking at the traffic, you can see that it's crazy busy this year. Much busier than last year," said Tracie Hutchinson of Maple Glen, Pa.

While summer visitors are coming back, year-round businesses like Stutz Candies say the winter was busy, too.

"We didn't have the lull in the winter that we normally do. There have been more people staying year-round down here," said Manager Erin Ellsworth.

At Ship Bottom Shellfish, there was a robust lunch crowd on Thursday afternoon.

And while the tables are full, their menu prices have had to go up to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of seafood.

"It's a combination of everything - pandemic, lack of crab meat, shipping," said owner Robert Nugent.

He says crab meat prices have doubled or tripled.

Still, he's optimistic, hoping his loyal customers will keep coming back for the catch of the day.

"Nobody balked at the price yet. They keep buying the good stuff," he said.

Many restaurants like Ship Bottom Shellfish are still for employees, having to cut some operating hours because of a smaller staff.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.