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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

May 29, 2020

Jersey Shore Restaurant Owners Express Frustration to the State in Reopening the Industry

By Melissa Acquaviva, Contributor Julia Mortimer

Marilou Halverson, Journal Staff Photo

More than 50 of the Jersey Shore’s restaurant owners gathered this morning outside Woody’s Ocean Grille restaurant in Sea Bright to express their concerns about the need to reopen the restaurant industry.

President of the NJ Restaurant and Hospitality Association and lifelong member of Monmouth County Marilou Halverson opened the press conference in expressing safety within the restaurant industry and the imperativeness to reopen.ย  Early on in her message, Halverson explained to the crowd that “other than healthcare, we do daily sanitation better than anyone.”

“The restaurant industry, over 25,000 in New Jersey, are primarily small, family-owned independent businesses,” said Halverson.

“This crisis makes Sandy look like a rainy day,” she said, referring to the two years of rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy hit the area hard in 2012.

Christopher Wood, owner of Woody’s Ocean Grille restaurant, respectfully asked the state of New Jersey to “stay on script and stick to the original plan of regional cooperation of our neighboring states and uniformally reopening restaurants for outdoor seating.” He went on to say that Connecticut, Pennsylvania and part of New York are allowing restaurants to open outdoor seating.

Wood was clear in his overall message.

โ€œKeep people in New Jersey,โ€ he said.

He expressed to the crowd his frustration in knowing that people who live in Trenton are traveling outside of New Jersey to New Hope to eat outside, residents of Cape May traveling to Delaware to go to a beach. His position was to keep New Jersey residents employed and spending money in the state.

“It is time to let the people of New Jersey make their own educated decisions as to whether or not they choose to go out or stay home,” said Wood.

Kate Bilow stands outside Woody’s Ocean Grille with her sign imploring the governor to reopen New Jersey restaurants. Photo Credit: Journal Staff

Wood outlined the industry’s goals and asks of Gov. Phil Murphy, with definitive dates in mind. Restaurant owners are looking for approval of reopening outside seating by June 5, as well as a firm plan in place, with restrictions and allowing for 50 percent capacity for indoor seating by June 15.

Wood ended his speech by stating, โ€œThe restaurant industry is ready to do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe, while preserving the livelihood of countless New Jerseyans.”

Restaurant owners Vic Rallo, of Birravino in Red Bank, and David Burke, of Drifthouse in Sea Bright, also spoke to the crowd, imploring the governor to provide firm plans and dates for the industry.

Restaurant Owner, David Burke

Freeholder Thomas Arnone and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso were also in attendance, representing the state.