C.J. Mills, owner of Drifter’s Feel Good Food in Sea Isle City, approached a group of strangers sunbathing on the beach and began telling them about his business.
Minutes later, Mills had taken their order and would soon return with a delivery of crab cake sliders and french fries.
“On the weekends, we’re out here aggressively marketing, going up to people saying, ‘Hey, do you have the new Drifter’s menu? Let me tell you what we carry. We have sliders, fresh cut fries, funnel cake, ice cream — and the best news is you can just stay right here on your beach towel, I’m going to bring it to you,” Mills said. “We’re basically cold calling on the beach.”
Mr. Fudgy Wudgy may have some competition these days as more and more beach-town businesses are delivering food directly to the beach.
“It’s all about convenience. Don’t make people have to leave their chairs,” said Mills, a former Sea Isle City lifeguard who came up with the idea of beach deliveries while sitting on a lifeguard stand, wishing someone would bring him something to eat.
North Wildwood resident Joe Duncan, an ice cream vendor more commonly known as the Fudgy Wudgy man on the city’s beaches, said he doesn’t see the service as competition, and he doesn’t think any other ice cream vendor at the beach would, either.
“Mr. Fudgy Wudgy is a Jersey shore beach icon. There’s no competing,” Duncan said. “It’s just another service that’s available.”
Mills said about 50 percent of Drifter’s business is beach deliveries, which are a great form of marketing.
“If you see people next to you (on the beach) getting funnel cake delivered to them, you’re probably going to want to get it, too,” he said.
Customers can place their order with the delivery person when they see him or her on the beach or they can call in the order.
Uncle Oogie’s Pizzeria, also in Sea Isle City, has been making deliveries to the beach since 1996, the year it opened, and it was the first business on the island to do so.
“It’s all about finding new ways to drum up business,” said its owner, Louie Cerone.
Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio said businesses in the city don’t need a permit to provide the service, but the delivery people do need beach tags.
He said he thinks delivering food to the beach is a good idea.
“This way you don’t have to worry about packing up the kids just to go to lunch,” Desiderio said. “And everyone has a cellphone these days, so it works.”
Businesses in other local beach towns are also offering the service. They include Harry’s Bar and Grill in Cape May, Viggo’s Pizzeria in Ventnor Heights and The Deli @ 5th Street in North Wildwood.
Steve Hartzell, owner and operator of The Deli @ 5th Street, said the service has been very popular.
“Just with the parking situation at the beach, people don’t want to leave their spot to get a bite to eat,” Hartzell said. “Even if you just want a drink, we’ll bring it to you.”
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