NJ shore businesses hope busy spring leads to lucrative summer

Decent weather has been drawing crowds back to the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey. Businesses look to rebound from a difficult season in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Transcript

- Taking a live look now. A foggy scene at our attheshore.com camera. Ocean City Boardwalk there, just a few people straggling along still. After a slow down in business last year due to the pandemic, shop owners are now hoping for a rebound as the shore season kicks off and more people are getting vaccinated. Action News reporter, Trish Hartman, has that story from Ocean City.

TRISH HARTMAN: Decent weather has been drawing the crowds back to the boardwalk in Ocean City. Business owners hope these early weekends are an indicator of a much better summer ahead. Five-year-old, Ella Hemingway, had a great day in Ocean City.

ELLA HEMINGWAY: We ride the games and then came to get some ice-cream.

TRISH HARTMAN: She's making up for lost time. Mom says, they didn't come down the shore last year.

SAMANTHA HITZELBERGER: Just because of everything going on, and we didn't know how everything was going to be. So we just held off.

TRISH HARTMAN: Businesses looking to rebound from a less than ideal season in 2020 have noticed the crowds coming back.

SHANE MACK: Easter weekend was extremely busy. It was almost like July 4th weekend, very crowded.

WILLIAM MOFFITT: People are trying to get out of the house, I think, because they've been stuck inside for the past few months. So I think everyone's looking to get out. And I think everyone wants to come down here and have a good time.

TRISH HARTMAN: This time last year, many businesses down the shore were still trying to figure out how to do business while complying with COVID-19 related restrictions. This year?

TOM ROSSI: Customers seem to know what they're doing. You know, everybody is respectful, social distance, you know. Yeah. We're not full capacity yet so, we're trying to make room for everybody.

TRISH HARTMAN: Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation providing $35 million in federal funds to small restaurants and bars in New Jersey. Eateries with 50 or fewer employees are eligible. The manager at Litterer's Food Court, a decades old boardwalk business, says any assistance could be a big help.

DINO TRIDENTE: We got some help last year, but it was still a disaster. I mean, it's expensive to run a business up on the boardwalk. And you have a short season. So any kind of help that the government would provide would be great.

TRISH HARTMAN: Restaurants in New Jersey can see people inside at 50% capacity right now. Governor Murphy has said that it's possible that capacity limits could be loosened even more by the summertime. But he says that depends heavily on case numbers and hospitalizations.