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OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) – Tourism dollars can make or break a business at the beach.

One Oak Island man took a risk and opened a restaurant in the heart of the recession. Thanks to a busy summer, that risk paid off. He’s not the only one seeing dollar signs.

At The Gravy Boat in Oak Island, it’s been smooth sailing this summer, especially Labor Day weekend.

“This weekend has been absolutely insane, crazy busy. It’s been wonderful,” said waitress Whitney Gresham.

Gresham started working at The Gravy Boat in 2009. Keeping these booths filled, also helps fill her pockets with cash.

“Being a waitress, it’s a good thing because you know you’re going to make some money,” added Gresham. “The more people that are here, the more money we make, the more food that we sell, it’s a big circle.”

Down the road, a similar story. Blake Conklin opened Shagger Jack’s on the island three years ago.

“We took a chance on moving here and opened up and its paid off dividends for us,” said Conklin.

This summer, his revenue is up about 25% over last year.

“We’re still a growing business, still have people coming in for the first time, and then certainly a growing economy, there seems to be more people on the island this year than ever.”

And even on an overcast day, people still packed the beach on Labor Day, enjoying the last few rays of summer before the sun sets on the season.

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