OCEAN GROVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Several New Jersey business owners who lost their stores in a devastating fire are scrambling to make up for lost time as the summer tourism season draws near.
CBSN New York’s Meg Baker revisited the scene of complete destruction where the rubble was once the North End Pavilion that housed multiple businesses.
The fire raged on for more than 24 hours, destroying Dunes Boardwalk Cafe and neighboring food venues, clothing stores and gift shops.
Those businesses are now working fast to find new locations and other jobs for their employees ahead of the busy summer season.
Day’s Ice Cream owner says he is thankful they still have their main store on Pittman, but that does not make up for the loss.
“I’m taking all of his kids over there to work here,” said David Fernicola of Day’s. “There’s only so much you can do here, you can handle only so many customers. We’ll see what happens. We originally had the one store to start out with, and I’m open to something if they redo something there or (elsewhere) along the boardwalk.”
The loss of his oceanfront shop was a double blow.
“We went through (Superstorm) Sandy over in Asbury when it got washed away, we came back the next day and everything was destroyed,” said Fernicola. “But this? We sat there for four hours watching piece by piece burn.”
Tara Elliott, the owner of Bettie’s Bombshells, is trying to work overtime at her shop in Asbury Park to make up for the more than $200,000 worth of merchandise destroyed in the fire.
“I had to work through the whole thing, through smoke coming down the boardwalk and customers asking what’s going on,” she said. “It’s a big emotional loss, I take it very personal. This isn’t just business for me – it’s home.”
Other owners say this fire has been an emotional roller coaster. The pier area was rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy and they hope it can come back to life again.