New and old vie for summer tourist dollars.
David and Karen Price have only lived in Florida for a year, but decided to visit Daytona Beach on the Friday before Memorial Day.
“I’ve heard about Daytona Beach my whole life,” said David Price as he walked around Ocean Walk Shoppes, located at 250 N. Atlantic Ave. in the tourism core of Daytona Beach Beachside.
“We decided to check it out. It’s real nice.”
Bright colors and modern architecture attract attention to Ocean Walk Shoppes, the shopping and dining destination built in 2002 at the north end of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk.
It is tourists like the Prices who can make the coming summer a successful season for local businesses. They were attracted to the idea of a boardwalk along the ocean.
“I grew up on the Jersey shore,” Karen Price said about her hometown, which also features a famous boardwalk.
The newest tenant of Ocean Walk Shoppes, Crazy Italy, has been doing well, according to owner Nimi Vrenezi.
“When the cheerleaders (convention) were here, it was extremely busy,” he said. “It’s a good location. It’s a tourist hotspot.”
The Shoppes offer at least a half-dozen other restaurants, and Vrenezi sees this as a good thing, because they work together to bring in diners.
“People are drawn by the variety of restaurants, and I offer a new food style,” he said.
He describes his offering as Mediterranean but having a little French and a little Greek.
“It’s a mix of everything with different, special ingredients,” he said.
The Shoppes also has several retail stores and a movie theater with recliners.
ORIGINAL BOARDWALK STILL ENTERTAINING
A walk south along the Boardwalk leads to the original Boardwalk, which had its glory years prior to the 1970s, and has gone through periods of struggle.
But while the Boardwalk has had closed areas in the past, there are currently no vacancies. Now with rides, arcades, gift shops and variety of food, it sits ready to entertain the summer tourists.
Lisa Psaros, of Lisa’s Gift Shop, said that while the arcades have the classic games, such as ski-ball and Pacman, they also offer the latest video and arcade games.
Psaros looks forward to the free concerts at the Bandshell, located by the Ocean Walk Shoppes, which draws tourists as well as locals Friday nights in the summer. A scan of the summer schedule shows a full slot of tribute bands, which are apparently very popular.
“People plan their vacations around the bands,” said Psaros, who is looking forward to a busy summer.
“We have street performers at night. And the fireworks bring in a lot of people,” she said.
The design and architecture of the old Boardwalk area have a “retro” feel, which can be appealing to tourists, but, unfortunately, some rust also shows here and there.
Ocean Walk Shoppes, the new-fangled destination at the north end, and the venerable Boardwalk, at the south end, both await the summer tourists for another season of summer fun and, hopefully, ringing cash registers.