Atlantic City is known to many as the East Coast playground. Lavish casinos, beautiful boardwalks and amusements make this beach town a Shore favorite. From a tourism perspective, Atlantic City has spent millions in advertising campaigns to draw visitors throughout the year, especially during the summer season. In addition to its famous beaches, for decades the gaming industry has long been the driver of Atlantic City's economy.
Most think of Atlantic City as a fun place, but this was not the case last October when Hurricane Sandy hit the area. Thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate and the military bombarded the area. The national media spotlighted Atlantic City and dozens of reporters were on the coast reporting minute by minute updates on the storm.
The media reported a major inaccuracy and to this day is still an issue for the city and all of its businesses. Journalists on the ground, not necessarily familiar with Atlantic City, found a section of the boardwalk that Sandy had battered. Footage of that damage found its way onto national broadcasts, with journalists from NBC's Al Roker to ABC's George Stephanopoulos declaring devastation for Atlantic City's historic boardwalk. There was damage, many homes and businesses flooded, but not on the grand scale that the media spoke about. But, the problem is, the actual historic part of Atlantic City's boardwalk was not devastated at all. Still today, restaurants and businesses across Atlantic City field calls asking whether or not they're open, as well as whether or not they still exist after Sandy's supposed wrath.
For Mike Blocker, a long-time resident of Atlantic City, and now the kitchen manager of the Cedar Food Market, says this perception issue has taken a toll on the number of visitors this summer and has seen the decline from other seasons. Blocker has lived through many hurricanes and is used to the drama associated with these superstorms.
What impressed Blocker the most was how fast and how efficient the city has worked together to get the community back. “We are learning to come back faster than ever. And the community is more involved. In years past, it would have taken months longer to get things done.”
He also notes that as more storms hit the coast, towns are tapping into government resources to rebuild at record speeds so life can get back to normal.
The spirit of forging ahead is also what Cedar Food Market thrives on. This brand new business opened a few months after Hurricane Sandy. It was originally called The Harbor Point Deli, but after suffering severe damage had to be completely gutted and rebuilt. The owners of the Cedar Market Food, which has 12 locations throughout New Jersey, knew that their newest spot in Atlantic City would get back eventually and took a chance.
The manager says, “Hurricane Sandy was scary and terrifying. It took two months to rebuild and $150,000 to gut the old deli and we had a lot of work to do. But, it got done.” Now, the deli is brand new with new ownership and doing okay. Business is not where it should be, but we know this will change and the city and Mayor are working very hard to change perceptions that Atlantic City was wiped off the map.”
To learn more about this business and others affected by the storm, please visit http://bit.ly/19EYgjm. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the WCEC’s “We’re Storming Back” Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Program provides free workshops, training, and resources to New Jersey businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy to help them to recover and thrive.
About The WCEC
The WCEC, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation, is a U. S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center. The WCEC provides the tools for individuals to successfully own, operate and grow their small businesses, thereby investing financially, intellectually and emotionally in their communities. The WCEC provides more than 150 classes, seminars and individual consulting sessions each year for more than 5,000 participants. For more information please visit www.wcecnj.org/.
Cedar Food Market
211-213 Melrose Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ