By Lauren Wanko
The Henry Richard Inn in Ocean Grove is bustling with guests who gather for breakfast before a day on the beach as the owner flips her sign to “no vacancy.”
“Actually we have been very busy this year,” Carol Ann Renzland said.
Business is up about 20 percent over last year here at the Henry Richard Inn. Sandy destroyed much of the boardwalk in Ocean Grove, but the owner says she’s seen a boost in business since that reconstruction was completed last month.
“We are only five or six houses away and everyone likes to walk right down to the sand, so that’s really been a big help,” Renzland said.
“I think this is one of my best years, ever,” said Comfort Zone owner Steve Mandeville.
Mandeville also agrees the new boardwalk has lured visitors to the quaint shore town, along with an improving economy. Nearby at Asbury Park Pedal Boats, tourists glide on the lake.
“It’s comparable to last year and of course the weather on the weekends has been excellent, so we’ve been working with that,” said Asbury Park Pedal Boats Cruise Director Michael Clemens.
Asbury Park Pedal Boats depends on good weather and customers to stay afloat.
“Any business can be busy on the weekends. What happened is word of mouth has helped us stay busy during the week,” Clemens said.
One Massachusetts resident drove about four hours for a day trip. He came for pinball but plans to make a few more stops along the shore.
“I will go to the bar next door, have a drink, I’ll have dinner down the street, I’ll walk around the boardwalk, maybe go to the beach,” said Alan Beaudry. “Massachusetts money into the Jersey Shore!”
Business is up over last year at the Silverball Museum.
“For the shore, we essentially have 10 weeks to make the majority of the money for the whole year. We are are open year round every day of the year here and winters are very quiet. It’s tough to get people to come out. Summer is the season so if it’s busy we have a good year and if it’s not it’s not a good year,” said Silverball Museum General Manager Dan Toskaner.
Farther south in Belmar, so far beach badge sales are up about 10 percent compared to last season.
“I think the lovely weather we’ve had this year, it’s brought the people down to the beachfront,” said Belmar Beachfront Supervisor Kevin O’Donnell.
And food truck manager Bobby Quinn is thrilled with the crowds on the boardwalk.
“We have been doing phenomenal business this year,” said Quinn, manager at Brandl Boardwalk Cuisine.
There’s no doubt these Jersey Shore business owners hope they can keep cruising through the rest of the season.