OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — A lot of people in New Jersey have been waiting for this day. Families continue to enjoy outdoor dining, but indoor dining is finally back and people couldn’t be more excited.
You can always count on crowded beaches during Labor Day Weekend.
“We’re just soaking up the last few moments, hang around here, pop around other beaches,” said Carolyn Spellacy, of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
The Ocean City boardwalk is full of holiday travelers as well as locals, all looking for some fun in the sun.
“You can’t really beat the nice weather and great ambiance out here,” said Josh Levy, of Northfield, New Jersey.
“Everyone is trying to do their best to stay away from each other, keep a nice social distance but again, now in the nice weather, staying away from people, keeping it outdoors, it’s pretty good,” said Josh Bryk, of Galloway, New Jersey.
As people take advantage of the sunshine, mild temperatures and the start of indoor dining, some say there’s nothing like sitting inside one of their favorite establishments for a well-deserved meal.
“It’s nothing like coming inside. You don’t have to deal with all the bugs,” said Frank Evans, of Glassboro, New Jersey.
Restaurants at the shore and across New Jersey have been suffering. Owners are now looking to make up for the lost time.
“Honestly, today is like Christmas morning for us,” said Monarch Diner & Restaurant Owner Paul Tsiknakis.
“I’m very, very happy. I’m happy to have the people back in here, happy to get back to a normal business,” said Anna Palmieri, with Litterer’s Food Court.
Indoor dining capacity is 25% so lots of social distancing and other safety protocols are in effect. Gov. Phil Murphy plans on waiting until it’s too cold to dine out before taking advantage.
“I’ll be outdoors assuming Mother Nature cooperates. And that’s not because I’ve got some issue but I love being outside,” he said.
There are some who feel the same way, not quite ready to eat indoors just yet.
“I don’t know how I really feel about it. I prefer outdoor dining or just ordering out. I probably won’t be indoor dining,” said Sean Spellacy, of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
Most years, this weekend would signal a close to the shore season but this has not been most years.
The slogan inside of Jay’s Crab Shack in Ocean City is “life’s too short to be crabby.”
That’s the general attitude owner Jay Graham has had about this very different shore season.
“We are really, really excited, super grateful that the summer actually happened and went through,” Graham said.
Because for several weeks, the summer looked bleak for shore businesses. Then in June, outdoor dining was given the green light.
“We were about 50% takeout and then the city of Ocean City was really helpful, they let us set up tables as far as we wanted to go,” Graham said.
Now on the festive Friday before Labor Day, indoor dining is allowed again.
While Graham was glad to be able to move his customers indoors when the rain came through Friday, he too will continue to embrace outdoor dining.
“As the weather gets a little more crisp, I’m hoping to see more people sitting down outside but having those backup tables for like today when it starts downpouring, it’s nice to know you can still do some business,” he said.
To make up for limitations that come with indoor dining, some owners have extended their hours as they look forward to a large turnout this weekend.
Normally, this weekend would bring an end to guarded beaches but to extend the season just a bit, many South Jersey shore towns will staff lifeguards on certain blocks through the end of September. If you take advantage of that, remember to bring your beach tag.