“Anytime the Governor or anyone else comes here and draws attention to the fact
that Beach Haven is back and doing business as usual is great for us and the
whole island,” said Mayor Robert Keeler.
Keeler accompanied Christie through the crowds as he went into businesses like
The Gazebo Restaurant, Coconuts and The Candy Store.
One of the The Candy Store’s owners, Missy Maschal, was also glad he came. She had some good news for him, as well as a bag of goodies, including Country Kettle Fudge from the family’s other sweets operation.
“I told him we were really afraid in April and May, but as the summer approached and people came back our business kept improving,” she said.
She added afterwards that this August is on par to be as good, if not better than last year.
Maschal was disappointed Christie didn’t have time to go across the street to visit Country Kettle Fudge at Bay Village.
“My husband would have liked
to show him how we were able to rebuild along with all the other ground level Bay Village shop owners that were underwater,” she said.
By all appearances the Bay Village shops and kiosks didn’t need the Governor’s attention. Every table in the food court was full of people enjoying bread bowls of steaming Country Kettle Chowda, huge slices of Bay Village Pizza or sharing a massive sweet Elephant Ear with their Cool Beans coffee.
The rest of the shops were bustling as well with people looking for that perfect souvenir or that commemorative LBI piece of clothing or jewelry, as the tweeners picked out hair braids and got airbrushed or henna tattoos.
“The numbers I’ve been hearing is that business is down
overall only between 10 to 20 percent, said Keeler. “Weekends have been really
strong and restaurants are reporting big lunch crowds.”
All of those people coming to Beach Haven and the rest of Long Beach Island also found plenty
of places to stay this summer as well, according to two South End Realtors who
came to see Christie.
“May and June killed us,” said David Wyrsch Jr., broker of record for the VanDyk
Group. “Then in July, while we were down on
leases, we were up on revenue. Now in August, we are on par with last year for
rentals,” he said.
Ed Kohlmeir, of Sunset Harbor Realty and a Beach Haven Commissioner,
said his office deals with many properties in the Holgate area where Sandy caused the most
damage on the island. He said his rental numbers are down a little more than average of
20-25 percent most agencies are reporting.
“It’s taking longer to get it back together down there, but it’s coming along a lot faster than anyone would have expected right after the storm,” said Kohlmeir.
Perhaps, it was best summed up by Christie, who when he was asked to sign a collage of pictures showing the destruction to Maschal’s fudge shop and other areas around Beach Haven hanging in The Candy Store.Above his autograph the Governor wrote “We're Back!”