🔵 New Jersey restaurants and businesses facing challenges as weather warms up

🔵 There is cautious optimism for the summer season in 2023

🔵 More funding is needed to help the industry of NJ restaurants and businesses


For an inside scoop at the challenges facing restaurants and businesses in the Garden State right now, New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association President Dana Lancellotti joined us recently on Shore Time with Vin and Dave on 94.3 The Point.

New Jersey restaurants, businesses, and hotels & motels are in dire need of a financial boost even before a possible and expected boom for business this summer.

Dana Lancellotti says more funding is needed for those in the industry as they continue recovering from the pandemic and the rising amount of financial and economic challenges.

(Photo Courtesy; NJRHA)
(Photo Courtesy; NJRHA)
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One of the goals is to build up travel and tourism again to pre-pandemic numbers.

"We definitely need more funding for the industry. In order to get support from our own state and our legislators, we need to have everyone -- the businesses, the communities -- they need to give a call to their local district legislators because, it's really the voices of the people that drive the way that these bills and things that pop up move," Lancellotti said.

In addition to needing funding to restore the local economy and tourism numbers back to pre-pandemic levels and then some, funds are also needed to prepare restaurants and businesses for the upcoming World Cup in 2026.

"It's going to come before you know it and what has to happen now are preparations with that in mind for down the road and everything else we need right now and in the seasons that come between us and that World Cup," Lancellotti said.

"We need to have the hotels and the tourism industry and the restaurants -- we need them funded, we need to use some of the money that's at the state still from the ARPA funds and things like that that we received to help businesses."

"That money needs to go out now to help these businesses, not in a year, not in two years, it needs to happen now."

Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk (Kena Betancur, Getty Images)
Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk (Kena Betancur, Getty Images)
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We're heading towards prime revenue season for many communities across Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean County tourism alone with the nicer weather upon us.

"The four counties there get such an influx in the summertime and many of the businesses are actually completely thriving on summer alone," Lancellotti said.

It is quite possible the restaurants and businesses in these four counties plus the other 17 in New Jersey may see somewhat of a boost this summer due to the current state of the economy.

Getty Images
Getty Images
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The pandemic forced many New Jerseyans to stay local and that trend continued to some degree for the last couple of summers because of the virus itself or finances.

Lancellotti feels it'll pick back up again similarly this summer.

"I think Covid got people to move around the state more, we've always said that we need people to understand that New Jersey has tourism all around the state in all different regions and fantastic diverse landscapes to enjoy and culinary adventures," Lancellotti said.

It could be a summer of exploring for many New Jersey families.

"I really think that Covid forced people to do the local travel and I think that's going to continue," Lancellotti said. "I feel like more people who are local, who do live here and not traveling in to go to the Shore necessarily -- they may be thinking about what part of 'Jersey do I want to explore when the weather gets nicer."

Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels
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There is cautious optimism for many jersey shore restaurants and businesses preparing for summer with the warm spring weather here.

Part of the reason for it, explains Lancellotti, is that those who pivoted to outdoor dining during the pandemic have stuck with it because of its financial and customer success.

"Some people have really gone as far as building decks and outdoor space in addition to being able to use the street or use the sidewalk, parking lot, parklets, the streeteries," Lancellotti said.

Outdoor dining in downtown Toms River
Photo by Justin Louis
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Outdoor dining is a nice perk for restaurants, Lancellotti adds, it's a new thing that we'll find more of than we used to here.

"It sometimes takes extra labor to make that work," Lancellotti said. "But those who want to participate in that again will certainly have to have budgets ready to be able to add tents and tables and things like that."

You can listen to the full conversation with Dana Lancellotti on Shore Time with Vin and Dave, right here.

Dana Lancellotti Part One:

Dana Lancellotti Part Two:

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