Restaurants, retail shops say summer season is steady, not sluggish

Palm Beaches could top 6 million visitors in 2013

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Labor Day looks more like mid-March inside Mellow Mushroom in Delray Beach. The place is packed for lunch, a welcomed sight for manager Jackie Platt.

"Honestly it doesn't feel like a slow summer. Usually we cut back staff and we haven't had to do much of that at all," said Platt.

Jackie says lots of usual customers from the northeast put their vacations on hold last winter after hurricane Sandy struck.

"People stayed home to fix up their properties and put off the vacations, and we got busier throughout this year," she said.

Those customers are discovering new shops like Stitches By The Sea, which was filled with people around noon Monday.

"Last summer was ok, but this summer is a bit busier," said owner Judi Alweil.

A record number of people came to visit Palm Beach County back in 2005 at 6.1 million visitors. Numbers show the county is on track to meet or beat that number for 2013.

One of the people helping to set the record, photographer Eric Skarl from Cleveland.

"The beach is busy, not crowded, but it looks the same as it did in January, right now," said Skarl.

He is one tourist who plans to become a snowbird. Another potential repeat customer local restaurants will be happy to serve.

"If we're making money then our servers and bartenders are making money. Everyone is happy to work and in a good mood," said Platt.

The county had to curtail its budget for advertising the Palm Beaches during the recession, and this is the first year that could rival the 2005 tourism record.

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