By CAROLINE HAILEY
Carroll County Times
OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Business at Hooper’s Crab House in Ocean City has been strong all summer, leading the restaurant to its most profitable season in 30 years, according to its general manager.
Ryan Intrieri said while Hurricane Irene caused an unwelcomed disruption for business by completely wiping out four days of potential profits, he’s just thankful that none of his employees were injured and the restaurant escaped damages.
With Labor Day quickly approaching, Intrieri said he’s hoping weekend business will be bustling again.
“In a perfect world, we’d be able to recoup all (our losses) during Labor Day weekend,” Intrieri said. “We’re hoping people who were planning to come to the beach last weekend will instead come this weekend.”
Ragina Averella, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said while the projection that 604,000 Marylanders will travel for the holiday weekend is a 2.7 percent decrease from last year’s Labor Day weekend, there could be a last minute increase in travelers whose plans to hit the beach last weekend were disrupted.
Christina Taylor, assistant manager at the Plim Plaza Hotel in Ocean City, said the hotel was almost completely booked for the Labor Day weekend by Wednesday, with many rooms being booked by people who had originally planned to stay last weekend.
“We’ve had a ton of people who couldn’t come last weekend because of the hurricane just delay their visit by a week,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the holiday season can’t come quick enough since the hotel lost three days of business due to the hurricane.
“We’re really hoping to make a lot of that back,” Taylor said. “It was tough losing a whole weekend like that in the summer.”
Dawn Nock, director of sales at Princess Bayside Beach Hotel in Ocean City, said there’s no real way to make back profits lost during the hurricane.
While all but about five of the hotel’s 198 rooms were booked for the weekend by Wednesday, Nock said they see great business over Labor Day weekend every year because of a nearby annual softball tournament.
“That will help our profits but won’t make up for last weekend,” Nock said.
Averella said while some people may try to fit in one last beach vacation before summer ends, the number of people who travel for Labor Day weekend is usually less than Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July.
“Typically, the later the Labor Day holiday falls on the calendar, the less inclined families may be to travel as children will have already returned to school,” Averella said.
Another factor that always effects travel is gas prices, Averella said.
While the average price of gas in Maryland is about 37 cents higher than it was a year ago, the price has generally been declining since the beginning of August.
“Gas prices are about 16 cents lower now than a month ago,” Averella said. “So while gas prices are still high, we don’t think it will significantly effect driving since it is declining.”
And with good weather forecasted in Maryland this weekend, Intrieri said he’s hoping many people will be filing into Ocean City and his restaurant.
“The hurricane tried to end our summer early,” Intrieri said. “But it should be a beautiful weekend so we’re looking forward to it.”
Information from: Carroll County Times of Westminster, Md., http://www.carrollcounty.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)