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Beach businesses say scorching summer heat impacted season

Union Leader Correspondent

September 09. 2018 11:06PM
Several Hampton Beach business owners said this summer's extreme heat had an impact on visitors. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRRESPONDENT)

HAMPTON — You’d think this summer’s scorching heat and humidity would have been great for businesses at Hampton Beach, but some say it was just too hot.

The weather is always a key player when it comes to the success of the short summer season, and this year was no exception.

“July and August, for the most part, were OK except for those hot, hot days and the rain. It was the mixture of weather,” said John Nyhan, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

The constant threat of thunderstorms also kept some people away from the beach even though some of the storms missed the beach and the weather was sunny, according to Nyhan.

Several restaurants and hotels along the beach have reported a good summer overall, but it wasn’t the greatest they’ve seen.

“Not excellent,” Nyhan said, “but not bad either.”

He didn’t have an exact figure on the number of visitors this summer, but he said it was certainly in the hundreds of thousands.

JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRRESPONDENT Ashworth By The Sea front office manager James Divona, left, and Norm Demers, general manager, look over booking information Friday as they prepared for a busy weekend at the Hampton Beach hotel.

Norm Demers, general manager of the 107-room Ashworth By The Sea hotel, said April, May and June were slower than usual and that business overall was softer than expected.

“Once the heat hit we did very well,” he said.

The Ashworth is the only full-service hotel open year-round at the beach and doesn’t rely solely on a good summer.

“With our banquet facility we do a lot of corporate events throughout the winter. We had a very good January, February and March this year,” Demers said.

Bill Statires, owner of The Candy Corner, described business as “OK,” but not as good as last summer.

“We had some rainy Saturdays in August, and that killed us. And when it’s 100 degrees, people don’t come out. It was too hot. You couldn’t go on the beach because it was too hot and you’d burn your feet,” he said.

Ronnie Kami opened Hampton Beach Fudge Factory in June for his first summer. He has another fudge shop on a boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J., and decided to try opening a second location for the summer season in Hampton.

Things started off slow, he said.

“August was great, but then at the end of the month everything just went downhill,” he said.

Kami knew his first summer would be more of a test because he opened late and didn’t have time to market his place, but he plans to return next year.

“I’m just happy I made it through word of mouth,” he said.

Bill Statires, owner of The Candy Corner, prepares to make candy apples on Friday. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRRESPONDENT)

Jumpin’ Jack’s Java reported a good summer season despite the heat and rain.

Owner Michelle Birmbas said beachgoers would come inside and enjoy breakfast or lunch even in the rain.

“It’s been great,” she said.

The Fourth of July through the end of August is the busiest time for the cafe, which is open year-round.

Bob Mitchell, owner of Mrs. Mitchell’s Gift Shop, said his business was booming in July.

“But as the weather changed the business changed. It was too hot and humid with thunderstorm warnings and all that stuff,” he said.

The first few weeks of August weren’t so good, he said, but it was a typical summer for his shop, which opened in 1966.

Mitchell said he also noticed less foot traffic at night.

Nyhan said he doesn’t think the summer was very good for retailers. Some people weren’t in the mood to buy while others brought beach items from home or “they’d stop at Walmart on the way,” he said.

The recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak also hurt business, several owners said.

Mitchell said he ended up taking some phone orders and shipping packages to people who wanted to shop at his store but were afraid to come because of the outbreak.

Pizzeria 339 is in its third year at the beach, and while the restaurant is located away from the busiest section of Ocean Boulevard, co-owner Joseph Koleszar was still pleased this summer.

“It was good. I can’t complain,” he said.


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