The period from mid-April to Memorial Day is usually a hectic time for shore boardwalk merchants and restaurant owners. Opening the door, cleaning up, ordering and hiring. A busy time.
But this year is unlike any other.
Most boardwalks are closed and the Memorial Day weekend opening is no sure thing. And businesses are anxious to open.
“We’re in a solid hold,” said Ally Kennedy, owner of the Asbury Roastery, a coffee shop in the Convention Hall arcade in Asbury Park.
This is a unique situation, Kennedy said, wondering how you handle social distancing on the boardwalk.
“We need the lines, the crowd. How do you manager a summer day in July?” Kennedy said she normally hires 20 people for the boardwalk, but that’s on hold.
Asbury Roastery also has a location on Second Avenue that’s open year-round.
“It’s definitely a new normal here,” she said.
Eddie Catalano, owner of Eddie Confetti Ice Cream on the boardwalk has been busy remodeling his stand at Fourth Avenue , and is racing to finish by Memorial Day. “It’s a complete gut, a total remodel and new look,” he said, and is confident he’ll be open but may have to make some adjustments.
“We”ll have one way in and one way out. I’ll have a two-person staff,” Catalano said.
His staff is anxious to return this summer and he hopes to have some kind of a summer and make some money. He’s even considering ice cream delivery, but hasn’t figured that out yet.
Staffing is a big concern for Ken Samuels, executive chef at the Avon Pavilion where he’s working to be ready for the season.
“We’ll miss our big opening weekend on Mother’s Day, May 10 but hope to have a decision by May 15 for Memorial Day,” he said.
He usually has a crew of 15 working to open the Pavilion. This year there are five, wearing masks and gloves. Samuels is concerned he’ll have to remove some tables to allow for safe distancing. “If I have to take out half the tables, it means taking half the business.”
Linda Occhipinti, operator of the Pedal Boats on Wesley Lake in Asbury Park, said the 10 boats are still in storage waiting for the OK to put them in the water.
“It’s costing me money and I’m not making any money now. It’s our tenth season and we always try to open on Easter. It’s our busiest day,” she said.
Madison Marquette, manager of the Asbury Park Boardwalk, posted a message on its website.
“We appreciate the loyalty of the millions of visitors who come to our shows, dine in our restaurants and attend our many events. We will be closely monitoring developments and the efforts to contain this pandemic and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Until then, stay healthy.”
2020 is also the 75th anniversary of the Asbury Park Concert Band and Conductor John Luckenbil said the band is hoping to play every Thursday night on the boardwalk at Fifth Ave., but is on hold pending developments with the coronavirus.