Tim McNamara, left, owner of the Bubba Dogs stand at the entrance to the 59th Street beach, hands a bag containing a hotdog to one of his loyal customers, Dan Fisher of Sea Isle City.


These are the dog days of summer. In Sea Isle City, these are also the hotdog days of summer.

For countless vacationers, one of the quintessential experiences of summer is stopping at the beachfront hotdog stands for a quick bite to eat at ridiculously affordable prices.

For a mere $3 or $3.50, you can buy a delicious ’dog. Throw in some toppings, a snack and a soda and you’re getting lunch for not much more than $6 or $7.

To top it all off, you can enjoy your hotdogs while savoring the million-dollar views of the ocean.

Beach hotdog stands were offering outdoor dining and takeout food long before New Jersey’s restaurants and eateries were restricted to outdoor dining, takeout orders and deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were inherently set up for it. We’ve always been takeout,” said Tim McNamara, owner of the Bubba Dogs hotdog stand that greets beachgoers at the end of 59th Street in Sea Isle.

A full block before you arrive at Bubba Dogs, the aroma of cooked hotdogs fills the air. McNamara has been occupying this spot at 59th Street for 17 years and has built up a legion of devoted customers over that time.

“I’m a big Bubba Dogs fan, for about the last 20 years,” said Sea Isle resident Dan Fisher. “They’re fresh and they have a unique taste.”

On his way to the beach Sunday afternoon, Fisher bought the signature Bubba Dogs “59th Street” hotdog, which comes with melted cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce and crunchy potato sticks.

“It’s the ’dog that made us famous,” McNamara explained.

Customers line up at the Dudley’s Dogs stand at the 75th Street beach.

It seems that the “59th Street” hotdogs and other selections are flying off the grill this year. Despite the pandemic, McNamara said he is heading for record sales this summer season.

“We’ve been doing remarkably well,” he said.

McNamara normally begins selling hotdogs in June, but this summer he decided to open in May when it became clear that students would not be returning to school during the pandemic and visitors began heading to the shore a little earlier than usual to escape the COVID-19 crisis.

During this atypical summer season, McNamara and his employees are wearing face coverings, observing social distancing and standing behind a plastic barrier that protects them and their customers from the spread of the coronavirus.

Yet, in its own modest way, the Bubba Dogs hotdog stand may be an early indicator that things are slowly returning to normal following New Jersey’s six-month battle with the virus.

Encouraged by his strong sales, McNamara is planning to keep Bubba Dogs open at least through Labor Day and will take it day by day after that, depending on the amount of business.

“We’re staying open after Labor Day for the first time ever,” he said.

McNamara conducted an online poll to determine if there would be enough customer demand for Bubba Dogs to remain open past Labor Day. He said people who responded to the poll were overwhelmingly in favor of him staying open after Labor Day, by a 195-5 vote.

Dudley McGinty, owner of Dudley’s Dogs, hands over a hotdog to beachgoer Kaitlyn Beaty and her 7-year-old daughter, Hannah Holden.

Sea Isle allows hotdog vendors to operate at eight beach locations: at 32nd Street, 40th Street, 52nd Street, 59th Street, 75th Street, 77th Street, 81st Street and 85th Street.

The hotdog vendors at 75th Street and 85th Street are old pros. However, unlike McNamara’s Bubba Dogs stand, they said their business is down this summer – a development they squarely blame on the pandemic.

Bernie Booth has operated hotdog stands in Sea Isle for a total of 31 years at four different locations. Booth has been at 85th Street for the past 15 or 16 years.

Dudley McGinty, who has been at 75th Street for the past 10 years, has been a hotdog vendor for a total of 30 years at four different locations in Sea Isle.

“I have people who come here year after year. There’s a lot of loyalty. I’ve known a lot of people over the years,” McGinty said of the customers at his Dudley’s Dogs stand.

McGinty, though, estimated that his sales are off about 20 percent this summer because of coronavirus fears.

“I think some people are hesitant about getting close to somebody else,” he said. “We’re also not seeing as many young people as we normally do.”

Hoping for a late-season surge in business, McGinty plans to keep Dudley’s Dogs going through Labor Day and will stay open on weekends as long as possible after the holiday.

Bernie Booth, owner of Bernie’s Beach Dogs at 85th Street, is joined by his niece, Lauren Budney.

Booth also plans to stay open through September at his Bernie’s Beach Dogs stand. Like McGinty, he is counting on more people visiting the shore this year in the early fall, including adults who work remotely and children who are studying online instead of returning to school during the pandemic.

He hopes that by extending his business into September, it will help him to recover from a decline in sales so far this summer.

“My sales are definitely down. It’s the COVID pandemic. What am I going to do?” Booth said.

At the same time, he noted there are vacationers who specifically choose to go to the 85th Street beach because they enjoy his Bernie’s Beach Dogs so much.

“I’ve built up a pretty big following over the years,” he said, smiling.