CBS2's Meg Baker spoke to owners who struggled in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said they have been busier than ever even with Delta variant cases surging due to more people finding an escape at their summer getaway or work-from-home location. However, they added staffing shortages remain.
Beach carts were packed and sunscreen was needed on one of the last days of the season.
"The beach is my happy place," said Sharon Stevenson of Manasquan.
Sometimes the best plans are no plans. Most people Baker spoke to planned to sit in their beach chairs and watch the waves roll in.
"I'm going to get a slice of pizza, go back to where I'm sitting, and boogey board as long as I can," said Nancy Cole of Somerset.
Manasquan's beach staff said badge sales were right on target.
"We sold a whole lot more seasonals than we ever have, and we were actually up with season badges. We were a little bit down on dailies because we had rain on nine different weekends," lifeguard captain Jay Price said.
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"Help Wanted" signs remain on businesses like the Capsized Cafe in Spring Lake Heights, but its owner said the business has been working overtime to meet demand.
"Busiest summer of all time. It's absolutely crowded. The most I've ever seen," Chris Curry Edwards said.
The general manager at Gee Gee's Pizza in Manasquan said having the bars back open funneled hungry late-night diners his way.
"From like midnight to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturdays, it's a big chunk for us. Yeah, it was really nice to have that back," Corey Bryant said.
But his college and high school employees go back to school next week.
"Pretty much will lose 90% of the staff this week, so for the next two weeks our hours are limited," Bryant said.
Unlike other summers when renters only came down on weekends, a lot more were down here full time, working from home and further boosting business during the week.
Share house renters don't want to pack up.
"We are putting that off to the last minute. We're going to hit the beach first," one person said.
Those who live here full time are looking forward to what they call "local summer" September, when the water is still warm, but the crowds have gone.
CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.
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