How businesses survived a COVID-19 summer


Courtesy of Kaitlyn Mourlas

Jimmy’s Kitchen’s new outdoor seating area due to COVID-19.

Kaitlyn Mourlas, Editor-in-Chief

Ocean City and surrounding areas of the resort town had a big adjustment this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants removed tables too close together, set up barriers between tables, and many made outdoor seating areas in their parking lots.

With the summer starting off busy due to students completing online school, the restaurants had a rude awakening. Many were understaffed because of people choosing to stay on unemployment, some were afraid of the virus, and other staff members were back in their homes across the Atlantic Ocean.

Kelly Rogers, manager of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille in West Ocean City, spoke up about the challenges they faced this summer. “The Greene Turtle West did not make as much money as last year. Only being able to be open at 50 percent capacity, we were not able to accommodate as many people as we normally do,” Rogers stated.

Many people in Ocean City received unemployment last winter, which continued through the summer. Because of this, waitresses, kitchen staff, hostesses and other employees did not feel the need to go back to work in the summer of 2020. These previous employees were making just as much money sitting on their couches as they would at work.

“We were understaffed all summer long. No one was coming in for jobs. I blame this on unemployment and the extra $600 people were getting due to COVID-19. It was a very hard summer. Some days we chose to close a day just so the staff could take a day off,” Rogers stated.

Many restaurants in the area had the same idea as The Greene Turtle, such as Jimmy’s Kitchen located in Fenwick Island. An employee at Jimmy’s and junior at Indian River High School, Maggie Borrelli, said that Jimmy’s decided to be closed every Tuesday and Wednesday to also give their staff a well needed break.

She also works for Mio Fratello and Yellowfin’s Bar and Grill, both located in Selbyville. All three restaurants, “Spaced out tables at least six feet apart and all would clean the bathrooms and wipe down the door handles multiple times per night. All of the places I work were understaffed this summer and overall I made less money than I have in previous years,” Borelli stated.

According to The Baltimore Sun, “Shannon Tippett, owner of the Mug and Mallet, a crab house on Ocean City’s boardwalk, said plenty of her regular customers from year’s past have cancelled their trips to the beach.” COVID-19 has taken a large number of lives, which brings concern to frequent vacationers.

Many restaurants all over the country have been struggling this year due to COVID-19, especially in areas where it is only warm during summer. “We don’t have the fall and winter to make things back up. … this is all we have left,” Tippett stated.

Currently in Ocean City, restaurants can seat up to 75 percent capacity, as long as the tables are at least six feet apart. These establishments are hoping for the pandemic to be controlled this winter, so by the summer of 2021 things will hopefully be back to normal.