BLOG: Shore towns small businesses struggle through off-season

Memorial Day through Labor Day each summer, the Jersey shore is packed with young people, families, and visitors to enjoy the beautiful beaches and coastal towns. But as kids return to school at the end of the summer and the weather begins to cool down, the shore becomes nothing short of a ghost town.

In the peak of the season, you can walk down the sidewalk of these beach towns, dodging dozens of people riding bicycles, waiting in line for ice cream, and headed towards the beach with surfboards and sand shovels in hand. Now, in mid-October, you walk down the empty sidewalk alone, passing window by window of businesses that are temporarily closed for the next eight months.

The shutdown of many businesses on the shore is not something new—and it is relatively sustainable when looking at the expenses and cost of keeping a store open while the town is unpopulated. But if anything, the towns wouldn't even be able to attract visitors if they wanted to with the scarceness of energy on the shore in the fall, winter and spring.

Lenny's Pizza and Italian Grill is a popular restaurant in Lavallette, NJ. It's one of the most visited restaurants in the town all summer long, but also a local favorite for year-round residents—making the decision to close during the off-season a hard one.

Restaurant manager Karen G says that Lenny's sees a packed dining room for dinner every single night from June to late August. During the other months, though, only a handful of stragglers walk through the doors to eat, in addition to delivery and pickup orders.

Karen says another problem the restaurant faces is that employees leave for the traditional

school year, as students or teachers or full-time employees elsewhere.

Photo by TripAdvisor

"August hits and we start to lose everyone," Karen says. "The last few weeks of the season are impossible because we are so busy but lose our staff, and then all of the sudden it gets dead in here, both staff and customers too."

The upside, though, is that Lenny's provides great service and even better food to local Lavallette residents all year long, and show gratitude for their loyalty in and out of the shore offseason.

"We stay open because we love our customers, and I think they love us too," says Karen. "Yeah it might be quieter than the summer, but it makes us appreciate each person that walks through this door even more."

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