Hot time, summer on the island
The Family Center IGA had one of its better summers, especially compared to last year, when hurricane scares hurt business, said Mike Hall, co-owner of the grocery store. "But even if you go back to 2004, our numbers were still very good (in 2006)," Hall said.
Hall said the good business came partly because of a slack hurricane season and a generally good economy in town.
"We're still seeing a lot of nice, healthy growth in Port Aransas, though it slowed down a little bit," Hall said. "It was almost sort of in a frenzy before. Now it's back to sort of a normal, average growth."
High gas prices may not have kept tourists away but actually may have brought more to town, Hall said. Many San Antonio residents, for example, may have chosen to take the relatively short drive to Port Aransas for their vacations rather than taking longer cross-country road trips.
Dolphin Dock's three deep-sea vessels sold out more than half of the weekends this summer, said Ernest Scott, bookkeeper at Dolphin Docks.
At Pelican's Landing, business was probably about 20 percent better this summer than last, said Michael Ahlstrom, a partner. Part of that was because there weren't any hurricane scares this year, and part of it is because Pelican's Landing started having live music again this year. Pelican's showcased live acts in 2002, 2003 and 2004 but not in 2005.
Summer 2006 wasn't gangbusters for everyone. Mark Admire, owner of Little Joe's Smoke .n Grill, said he didn't do as much business as he expected. But Admire said he is improving the restaurant with a new paint job, salad bar, televisions, patio furniture and retooled menu.
"I'm optimistic with the growth of the island," Admire said. "There's going to be more opportunities."
Merchants reported strong business at Castaways Seafood and Grill on Alister Street and at the A Mano shop on Tarpon Street.
Condominiums under the management umbrella of Condominium Consulting Management Services did good business this summer, said Sam Poteet, vice president of CCMS. The firm manages Sand Castle, Aransas Princess, La Mirage, Casa Del Cortes, Aransas Harbors, El Cortes Villas in Port Aransas, plus Mustang Towers and Sandpiper, which are just outside the city limits.
"We met the projected numbers we had forecasted," Poteet said. "Obviously, we had terrific weather all summer, no down days due to weather or seaweed or any kind of tide problems or anything like that. So, other than that little rain storm that lasted three or four days, everything was fine."
Revenue from hotel-motel taxes is up over last year, according to Assistant City Manager Judy Lyle.
Revenue was about $1,678,000 from Oct. 1, 2005, to Aug. 31 this year, Lyle said. Revenue was approximately $1,501,000 during the same period in 2004-05, a difference of 11.83 percent, Lyle said.
The summer was also good to The Dunes condominiums, said Bud Baker, general manager at the condo. But he said next year will be even better. Primary and secondary school students, after breaking for summer 2007, will not have to go back to school until after Labor Day due to changes in state law wrought by the Legislature. That will give families all over the state more time to spend their vacations in Port Aransas.
"We had a fine summer in 2006," Baker said. "But we're going to have a great summer in 2007."