Waterfront businesses get welcome rush of traffic during holiday weekend

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The holiday weekend proved to be a big success for many central Indiana businesses, especially those along the water.

Boat rentals are booked and restaurants are packed on Geist Reservoir. It’s a much needed boost, as they continue to recover from the pandemic.

“We’ve taken every inch of grass that I have and made parking lots out of it. It was packed,” said Greg Binder.

Binder is the manager at Geist Marina. Boat rentals for Monday and this past weekend were booked back in April. Every boat is booked solid for weekends through August as well.

“COVID drew a lot of people to the lake and to boating. We see it in every metric we look at: boat rentals, boat sales,” said Binder.

In 2020, boat sales increased across the country. Binder says he sold boats to a lot of first time owners. That demand created a challenge in the industry

‘We’ve got parts that didn’t get in, floats that didn’t get in, life jackets that didn’t get in, tow hooks that didn’t get in and boats the supply chain has really been hammered.”

Boat sales and rentals are just part of the holiday boost here along the water. Businesses like Wolfies are also feeding off the post pandemic surge.

Scott Wolf is the co-owner at Wolfies Grill on Geist. After dealing with carryout only during the pandemic and easing restrictions for months and month, the Fourth of July was worth celebrating for the business.

“I’ve been in the business 35 years,” began Wolf. “That was the most stressful 18 months I’ve ever had in 35 years. To get over that and open up and see people smiling and entertaining and people getting on the boats has been the greatest relief ever.”

The Wolfies on Geist and Morse reservoirs were both busy all weekend long. Sales from this 4th of July compared to 2019’s are already up 15%.

“I think that’s probably the biggest thing, people just want to get back to enjoying life and doing what we used to do in the past pre-COVID,” remarked Wolf.

From boats to a bite to eat — Binder says these waterfront businesses are ready to be slammed all summer long.

“Our work is their fun. We’re here to enable people to have a good time on the lake.”

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