MTV's 'Jersey Shore' Brings Profits to Toms River Businesses, Despite Reputation
While many locals turn their nose up at MTV's "Jersey Shore," it has been a blessing for some Toms River businesses.
Tonight, the fist-pumping antics of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” will return for its fifth season, which leaves some Toms River natives and officials rolling their eyes. For local businesses the tanned and toned cast frequents while filming, however, the hit show means a surge in profits.
“In a time when we're struggling, it brought families back to the shore,” said Tony Rivoli, owner of Rivoli’s Italian and Seafood Restaurant on Fischer Boulevard. He said his establishment has become “the unofficial restaurant of the ‘Jersey Shore’” since it first appeared on the show in season three.
“The phone didn’t stop ringing,” he said of the day after Rivoli’s appeared on the “Jersey Shore." “It was so busy, we ran out of food.”
Rivoli’s only seats 110 people, he said, but after it was featured on the show, he had to hire an additional 13 servers that summer to handle the rush.
Jagged Edge Salon, also on Fischer Boulevard, is the barbershop the Situation, Pauly D, Vinny, and Ronnie patronize while filming in Seaside. O.J., a long time employee at the salon, said they have had a “massive amount of customers” come in after seeing the business on the show.
“People come in and ask for the ‘Pauly D’ blowout,” said O.J. When the cast comes to the shop, he said they make appointments like any other customer, and the rest of the salon is still operating.
“It’s not like they’re P-Diddy,” he said. Overall, O.J. said neither he nor any of the employees at Jagged Edge had any complaints about being on the show, and cited it as a beneficial opportunity for their business.
“My only complaint is I haven’t gotten my spot as a member of the cast yet,” he joked.
Mike Loundy, a member of the Seaside Business Improvement District and the MTV liaison for Seaside Heights said Seaside Height’s revenue was up 20 percent after the first season aired.
“We attribute all of that to the exposure the show has created,” he said. He also said there were only four film permits before the show aired in 2009, now, Seaside Heights has 30 film permits. So, the show is causing other projects to film in the area as well.
In regards to Toms River, he noted that the crew collectively spends 6,000 hotel nights over the course of shooting, and many of them are spent in Toms River’s Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson.
Besides this, he said the crew, which is about 125 people strong, would eat meals and shop in the areas where they are filming. That means if the cast is filming at Rivoli’s that night, the crew is staying in Toms River hotels, and patronizing the shops and restaurants in the area.
On top of this, he noted that because fans and crew must travel through Toms River to get to Seaside Heights, they are spending money at gas stations and convenience stores along the way.
“The fans and everyone affiliated has to get here from somewhere,” Loundy said.
Even with the increase in exposure, many Toms River locals still scoff at the show because of its portrayal of the Jersey Shore and Italian Americans.
Rivoli said some business owners, who were approached by the show as prospective filming locations in the first season, refused to let them shoot at their establishments. After seeing the success it has brought to other local businesses, they are now eating their words.
“These are good kids,” he said, “People need to realize, reality shows are reality only to a point.”
J. Mark Mutter, town clerk for Tom’s River, even rolled his eyes at the mention of the “Jersey Shore.” However, he couldn’t deny the positive impact it’s had on local business.
“I’ll say this, from my observation and in my travels around New Jersey, it has definitely put Toms River on the map,” he said.
“We’re not involved in the content,” Loundy said on the reproach for the show, “We’re just folks happy to have someone filming here.”