Merchants prep for Spring Break



Playing some football on the beach in Port Aransas on Sunday, March 6, are, from right, Gary Winthorpe, Andres Benavides and Hunter Jacobs Jr. (partially obscured), all high school students from San Antonio. They were among the many who are expected to visit Port Aransas during Spring Break. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Playing some football on the beach in Port Aransas on Sunday, March 6, are, from right, Gary Winthorpe, Andres Benavides and Hunter Jacobs Jr. (partially obscured), all high school students from San Antonio. They were among the many who are expected to visit Port Aransas during Spring Break. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Increasing staff and product are some of the ways local businesses have prepared for what could be a busy Spring Break this month.

The first week of Spring Break started Friday, March 4 and will go until Friday, March 11. The second week will then go until Sunday, March 20.

Brett Stawar, the CEO and president of the Port Aransas Tourism Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, said the second week will be more active, with 80 percent of Texas schools being on break during the second week.

March 2021 had about 2,200 check-ins across several short-term rental operations in Port Aransas, according to Stawar, while that number this year already was about 1,600 as of March 4.

“I’m optimistically thinking it’s going to be a good year,” he said, predicting it would likely be similar to 2021.

The whole town has been in a “hiring frenzy,” competing over the same limited labor force before Spring Break started, according to Mike Hall, the co-owner of the Family Center IGA.

Chase Benavides, a driver for Nueces Brewing Co., makes a delivery to an establishment on State Highway 361 on Thursday, March 3. He said his deliveries will become more frequent as Spring Break begins. Staff photo by Graysen Golter

Chase Benavides, a driver for Nueces Brewing Co., makes a delivery to an establishment on State Highway 361 on Thursday, March 3. He said his deliveries will become more frequent as Spring Break begins. Staff photo by Graysen Golter

IGA hired over two dozen employees in the last 90 days, he said, and that factors such as the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine can impact their ability to staff up, such as with foreign students in the J1 work-and-study program.

He said his store is prepared for Spring Break, noting that sales are expected to increase 25 to 35 percent.

“We’re not worried about Spring Break being lackluster,” Hall said.

However, Hall said he wishes he could get more product in stock, as IGA is only getting 50 to 60 percent of what it orders due to manufacturers not being able to keep up with high demand.

The shortage will cost the business money, he said.

A busy year is what General Manager Alice Bearrow at the Virginia’s On the Bay restaurant is expecting as well, she said.

She said she expects to see 1,000 customers per day during Spring Break compared to the normal 300 to 600 in the weeks before the break.

As a result, Virginia’s has taken steps such as increasing staff from around 40 employees to 50, as well as ordering roughly 80 cases of beer per week instead of the usual 20 to 30.

Bernie’s Beach House prepared for Spring Break by increasing the alcohol that the night club is ordering, bringing a handful more employees into a total staff of more than 20 people and repainting the exterior murals, according to General Manager Vanessa Garcia.

Bernie’s also is opening all five of its bars at the establishment, she said.

“(The revenue will be) at least a 100 percent increase over our winter numbers,” Garcia said.

Amanda Tripp, who works the front desk at the Ocean’s Edge Hotel, said all 61 of the hotel’s rooms have been booked.

When asked how booked Deep Sea Headquarters is expected to be for Spring Break, Manager Jerry Montalbo said the charter boat business has been getting a lot of phone calls and online bookings.

The nearly 30-person staff prepared by ordering extra live bait and replacing winter apparel with short-sleeved clothing and hats appropriate for the warmer weather.

While he said he’d like to hire more people, Montalbo feels prepared for this upcoming Spring Break and that he hopes Deep Sea Headquarters will be “packed” like the beaches and bars are expected to be.

“The last two Spring Breaks we’ve had… have really been dynamite… and we’re really hopeful (for this year, too),” he said.

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