CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Friday marks the start of Independence Day weekend for many Americans, and Carolina Beach is already buzzing with visitors.
Businesses are hoping it’s going to be a successful weekend after a difficult year due to COVID-19.
“We’ve all talked about it, I mean we’re all a team down here on the island, we all help each other out, but I think it’s going to be the biggest year for all of us as far as restaurant business,” said Stoked Restaurant manager Laura Cooper.
Some employees are also looking forward to a boost in business.
“I’m so excited,” said Stoked Restaurant busboy Landon Greer. “Can’t turn down a little bit of money!”
While many restaurants have had difficulty hiring workers, Greer says taking on a summer job was an easy decision.
“I love working just so I can do the stuff that I want to do,” Greer said. “I love surfing, so I get money to buy me some new surfboards.”
Cooper says business has been steadily increasing since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
“We’ve been definitely busy, just like everybody else, super understaffed, but we’re making it work,” Cooper said. “We just ask for everybody’s patience.”
The restaurant has events planned all weekend, catering to travelers starved for good food and entertainment they may have missed out on last year.
As some restaurants in the state are making headlines by charging customers an extra fee to cover increased pay for hourly workers, Cooper says stoked will not be one of them.
“We are actually not going to do that,” Cooper said. “I have heard about that as well but we are not.”
Over on the boardwalk, The Fudgeboat is fully staffed and ready to serve homemade sweets and treats.
“In the last few weeks we’ve seen a huge influx in business and I think we’re going to break some records for sure,” said worker Courtland Bartosik.
Out on the water, Sea Legs Pedal Pub will be full steam ahead, booking groups every two hours.
“Everyone says that it’s going to be a lot of people down here, everything’s going to be buzzing so we’re looking forward to a full boat, fun party,” said Captain Freddy VonEssen.
AAA is predicting 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day weekend, an increase of 40 percent over last year.