SEA BRIGHT: A PARTIAL START TO SUMMER

Contractors swarming Chapel Beach Club in Sea Bright on Thursday. Below, a lifeguard boat at the ready at Surfider Beach Club. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Seven months after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore, Sea Bright enters the summer of 2013 far from fully recovered, with many buildings and storefronts still boarded up or demolished.

But there is ample evidence of rebuilding, and hope in the air, as the weather warms and more and more people begin to show up at the shore community.

“For all our losses, we managed to keep our customers,” said Frank Bain, owner of Bain’s Hardware, one of the first businesses on Ocean Avenue to reopen after the hurricane. “Business has been steady since we opened our doors. It’s safe to say the shop is back to normal. We’re here, and we’re ready for the upcoming season.”

In addition to Bain’s, other businesses in Sea Bright that have either opened or expect to do so this weekend are:

• Ama Ristotrante

• Angler’s Marina

• Century 21 Real Estate

• Dunkin’ Donuts

• Giglio’s Bait and Tackle

• Harry’s Lobster House

• The Mad Hatter

• Mrs. Rooney’s Hot Dog Stand

• Navesink Marina

• New Super Golden Restaurant

• Northshore Men’s Wear

• Sea Bright Supermarket and Liquors

• Woody’s Ocean Grille

For weeks, Frances Rooney, affectionately known as “Grandma Hot Dog,” has ben gearing up for her 36th summer season feeding hungry customers from her hot dog car at Ocean Avenue and Center Street.

“I really don’t know what to expect from this summer, to be honest,” she told redbankgreen. “I think I’m pretty optimistic – I have to think that people will be back. The beach is still here of course, and that will always draw people.”

What those drawn to the beaches will find, however, is a mixed bag.

The municipal beach will be open and ready to accommodate beachgoers with temporary bathroom facilities, lifeguards, a new ‘boardwalk’, and a new playground next to the municipal lot. But finding refreshments will require a bit of a walk, as Woody’s Ocean Shack adjoining the tiny boardwalk has not reopened.

On the beach club front, two clubs have confirmed they will be opening their doors this weekend: Ship Ahoy, according to a friends’ page on Facebook, and Driftwood Cabana Club, according to its website calendar.

Edgewater Beach and Cabana Club lists an opening date of June 1 on its website, and Chapel Beach Club is listed as ‘coming soon’ on the Businesses of Sea Bright website.

Surfrider, Sands and Sea Bright Beach Club have no word on their openings on their websites or Facebook pages and could not be reached for comment. In an earlier interview with redbankgreen, Sands owner John Chimento said the club would maintain its usual Memorial Day weekend opening this year, and utilize temporary facilities to make it happen.

In Bain’s opinion, the outlook on this upcoming summer is sunny.

“The beach clubs and public beaches will always bring a great influx of people,” Bain said, “and with each new business the reopens, more people will be drawn to the town. Success feeds on success, and there will be plenty of people to feed on and support those business when they come, but it’s a cooperative process.”

Also open, for those inclined to pray for good weather: Sea Bright First United Methodist Church.

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