It’s no secret how locals feel every summer once the crowds of tourists and vacationers leave our shores and we’re able to move about town with less traffic and lines.
The bars and clubs cut back their summer entertainment and daily specials, seasonal businesses scale down their staff and hours of operation, and boardwalk attractions go into hibernation. But for the locals, the months of September and part of October are some of the most enjoyable months. Moderate climate and quieter beaches result in some of the best weeks of summer.
In honor of “locals summer”, one of the most popular clubs in the region, Jenk’s Club on the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk has a “Welcome Back Locals Party” on Friday, September 9. The yearly event brings out long-time residents for a commodore celebration of reclaiming their beaches and bars. The party will feature popular shore group Go-Go Gadget, 1,000 t-shirt giveaways and can’t-beat drink specials.
Jenkinson’s boardwalk is much more than this club though, for families living in Ocean County it is also a great opportunity to access the beach without charge and enjoy all the attractions lined up and down the boards. Although the aquarium, arcade and sweet shop are open daily year round, the luxury of enjoying these traditional spots during the summer warmth is much more appealing, especially without the crowds.
The neighboring boardwalk town of Seaside Heights is known for a tourist haven, but local residents from all over the region still flock here through the year to enjoy the nightlife and seasonal festivals. A staple boardwalk bar and restaurant, JR’s Ocean Grille, also sticks it out through the year and remains open for business. I talked with Todd Wacha, a live music promoter who books bands for “No Wave Thursdays” at JR’s which showcases local and regional acts.
Wacha said “The crowds definitely slow down tremendously once school is back in session. However I, as do most locals find the end of summer throughout the fall to be the most enjoyable time of the year.”
He said the venue will continue having live music through the off-season but a schedule is not yet confirmed. He commented on Seaside’s music scene by saying “I still will do my best to keep original music going and Kevin Stewart (owner)of JR's has always supported all the bands. Seaside Heights has never really been looked at as a rock 'n' roll town. Yet there has been live music here for years.”
Not everyone can enjoy this time of year though, as many businesses close their doors for yet another winter.
Carole Kartikis, owner of on Route 37 in Toms River is one of those residents. Carole said she loses much of her hired help as young employees head back to school. Their doors won’t close for the season until mid October (depending on the weather), so she’ll be short on staff for these months.
Another popular bar and restaurant in Point Pleasant Beach, Martell’s Tiki Bar, is one that is seasonal and will close for business sometime in November, depending on the weather. When I asked a wait staff employee how the clientele is after Labor Day she said most of the crowds disappear, but so do the tips. The tiki bar and indoor restaurant area both still cater to the local residents through these few last months with live entertainment on weekends and drink specials daily.