By Matt Petrillo

CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) – The countdown is on. Memorial Day weekend is now about a month away.

After a brutal summer last year for businesses down the shore, many are now gearing up for the summer rush. This year, the shore crowds have arrived early.

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From the lively Washington Street Mall in Cape May to the busy boardwalk in Atlantic City, crowds of people are excited to get down to the Jersey Shore even before the summer.

“I’m just glad to get out. Get out and do something instead of sitting at home,” Theresa Henry, who is visiting Atlantic City, said.

Now with Memorial Day weekend so critical to business’ revenue, many are hustling hard to prepare — and are using lessons learned from the pandemic.

That includes Peace Pie, an ice cream sandwich shop in Cape May.

“It’s the best ice cream sandwich you’re ever gonna have,” Peace Pie owner Jerry Klause said.

After owner Jerry Klause was forced to keep customers outside last year, he sold his sweet treats to two lines of customers through windows.

“It became a lot easier to sell to people because we had two places to sell instead of one,” Klause said.

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Now he’s keeping it that way after having a record year all during the pandemic.

Nearby, a restaurant called Exit Zero Filling Station, which used to be an actual gas station, also had its best year in 2020.

“We basically tried to reimagine our restaurant as an outdoor restaurant with private dining,” Exit Zero Filling Station owner Jack Wright said.

The owner transformed the parking lot using retro trailers as private dining areas.

“We have experienced huge sale surges compared to 2019,” Wright said.

And not far away, at Morey’s Pier at the Wildwoods, digital menus will be permanent at its dining locations so it can more easily change food items.

“That’s one thing that we picked up and said, ‘hey this works better, we’ll keep it.'” Morey’s Pier Human Resources Vice President Denise Beckson said.

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Hotels have made changes too, like adding sanitizer to rooms. Many are also anticipating a boom this summer. So visitors are encouraged to book early.