Small business owners of the Jersey Shore

Sundae Best in Avalon, New Jersey –

The Jersey Shore: bustling coastal towns that draw seasonal crowds from all over the Northeast. Up and down the streets of these towns are quaint shops, restaurants, and places to gather on a warm summer’s night. But what is the state of these businesses in a time where it is illegal to gather in a crowd or even stand too close to another person? For my graduation project, I hit the road and set out to collect the story of the small business owner. 

     I met with the owners of Sundae Best and The Rock N’ Chair of Avalon, New Jersey. Sundae Best is an iconic family-owned ice cream shop that boasts lines out the door each night of the summer. Owner Kim Yerkes began the business twenty years ago with her father and continues to run it today with her son as her partner.

     Yerkes says that it is a great place on a summer night to bring your family and enjoy a song from a live performer out front. But she tells me that this summer will not be the same. Each customer must take their ice cream away: they cannot allow outdoor seating, and they cannot even allow customers inside the store. This is a stark contrast from normal times when the store is packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder. 

    “As the state of the world has changed, we have had to change our business to match,” Yerkes says. “We are beginning online ordering, and even accepting credit cards for the first time since we opened 20 years ago.” 

     Though people are mandated to stay at home and follow many precautions, Yerkes is optimistic.

     “People are actually itching to get out,” Yerkes says.

      This itch could be what keeps these businesses afloat as the travel season begins. 

     Owner Gina Dippso from The Rock N’ Chair sang the same song. The Rock N’ Chair is a restaurant and bar that, much like Sundae Best, constantly boasts a heavy crowd. This summer marks their seventeenth year of business. They run seven days a week throughout the summer, and they’re open on weekends in the late fall and winter. Now, The Rock N’ Chair has been limited solely to take out options. 

Dippso even said she had customers walk by and tell her, “That’s my barstool! I can’t wait to get back here.” 

     Throughout our conversation, Dippso was heavily focused on the bar.

The Rock n’ Chair in Avalon, New Jersey –

     “These holiday weekends are huge for nightlife,” Dippso says. “Without the bars open, the whole scene will change.”

     Dippso even said she had customers walk by and tell her, “That’s my barstool! I can’t wait to get back here.” 

     Still, she was less than optimistic that the bars would open at all this summer for regular business. 

     Both establishments are prepared to make the best of all the action they can get. They said they are promoting heavily on social media through Instagram and Facebook, but otherwise, most of their business will be drummed up by general traffic past their storefronts. 

     The small businesses of the Jersey Shore cannot do much but wait for more direction and pray that people come to support them.