Port Aransas was booming with business this past weekend. Business owners and residents told KRIS 6 it’s a good sign of the times, as many businesses and the beaches remain closed for more than a month because of COVID-19.
“It was a good feeling,” said Mark Winton, the owner of Winton’s Island Candy. “It was like a good summer weekend.”
“This past weekend was definitely the busiest I've seen the island so far this year,” said Chris Collins, the managing partner for Finn’s Grill and Icehouse. “It was really jam packed.”
Collins also manages MacDaddy's Family Kitchen and Tortuga's Saltwater Grill in Port Aransas. Although the restaurants were only open at 25% capacity, staff still had a lot on their plates.
“Our restaurants did really well. We stayed really busy,” said Collins. “We had a lot to-go orders. We did our best to managing crowds, adapting to the high volume to-go orders, and trying to keep customers happy and give them a good experience.”
Meanwhile Winton said the town had been quiet while the stay-at-home order was in place. His candy shop re-opened more than a week ago, and business was slow at first, but this past weekend was much busier.
“It picked up. This weekend was really, really good,” said Winton. “We had a lot of customers, a lot of happy people ready to get out and enjoy themselves.”
According to Keith McMullin, the interim president for the Port A Chamber of Commerce, gulf cart rental shops saw record numbers for the year, and hotels were nearly booked. Keith also told KRIS 6 many of the weekend’s visitors took day trips from San Antonio and Austin.
“It appears that people made a last-minute plan, saw the weather, that it was going to be sunny and 85, and headed to the beach,” said McMullin.
McMullin said rental homes and condos are also seeing more occupancy for the upcoming weeks. Meanwhile business managers and owners like Collins and Winton are just hoping it gets back to business as usual for the rest of the tourist season.
“Seeing kids back out and families having fun and going to eat at restaurants, it's good for the soul,” said Collins.
“It was good to see everybody,” said Winton. “And I think they felt good being back, and we feel good.”
McMullin says next weekend is also expected to be busy because it is Mother’s Day Weekend. As for the rest of the summer, he’s also optimistic.
“One thing that is different about this year, is the people that would normally fly to Cancun or Cozumel, they may be less interested in getting on a plane,” said McMullin. “So we feel like we're going to get more of those people that can pack their bags, put their family in a car, and drive south for a few hours.”