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Catching up with innkeeper Doug McMain of The Queen Victoria

You can’t talk about Cape May B&Bs without talking about The Queen Victoria, which has been a pillar of Cape May hospitality since 1980. We chatted with innkeeper Doug McMain, who purchased the B&B in 2004 with his wife Anna Marie, to find out what it’s like operating a year-round accommodation in Cape May, the strangest phone call they’ve ever had, and what an innkeeper eats for breakfast.

What made you to decide to run a B&B in Cape May?

We stayed in too many bed and breakfasts and got hooked on the idea of owning a charming historic property in a beautiful beach town. The idea of having our own little business, out of the corporate scene, had tremendous appeal. It turns out that The Queen Victoria is not quite a “little business,” but we’re still thrilled with the decision we made fourteen years ago.

How do you manage to stay open year-round?

We choose to stay open year round for a few reasons. The first, I think most people would be surprised how many visitors we get during the winter. There is rarely an evening that we don’t have guests. Secondly, the phones are ringing every day, all year round, with people making reservations. Somebody has to be here for that purpose alone. Beyond that, we have a wonderful staff, which we would probably not be able to keep intact if we closed for several months each year. We’re proud to offer nearly 20 of these people year-round, full-time jobs. Basically, we take the “long view” when considering our finances throughout the year. It would be very short sighted of us to simply close our doors each month that we aren’t showing a positive cash flow.

Tell us about the strangest phone call you’ve ever had.

One that has always stuck with me is a call I got on our emergency line at about 5:30 in the morning, as I was leaving our home to head into the inn, asking if we had a room available for the night. I wasn’t sure what night he was asking about, the one that was nearly over, or the one to come. It turns out he meant immediately for the previous night. I ended up renting a room to him and his wife for two days. Nobody saw them again until they checked out, so I assume they were simply on a completely different schedule than the rest of us.

What was one of your worst blunders in the kitchen?

I suppose dropping the breakfast dish as I was taking it out of the oven one morning tops the list. Destroying the breakfast you are supposed to serve five minutes later definitely disrupts the flow of the morning.

What’s the #1 thing you recommend people do when they visit Cape May?

We recommend MAC’s Combination Trolley Tour, to give new visitors to Cape May a good sense for the history of our fair town, and also a glimpse into the past in the Emlen Physick Estate.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Cape May?

We have too many favorites (and friends who own them) to give you only one. Here is a short list (in no particular order): Freda’s Cafe, Washington Inn, Louisa’s, Fins, Sapore Italiano, PSI, Georges Place, and the Ebbitt Room.

We’re throwing a tea party. What type of tea do you recommend, and what foods should we serve guests?

Harney’s Paris Tea, without a doubt. Personally, I’d suggest our “Amazing 6-layer Gluten Free Bars” (not the sexiest name, but the best thing you’re likely to ever taste), “Melt in your Mouth Shortbread Cookies,” and “Chunky Bacon Tomato Spread” with crackers. We serve all of these, of course, and they are all in our cookbook.

Anna Marie and Doug celebrating Cape May’s 400th annivesary in 2009 | Photo courtesy of Doug McMain

Did you make your own bed this morning?

Absolutely. Anna Marie and I start our day that way every single morning.

What do you eat for breakfast?

We’re in a bit of a rut, but a great one. We typically enjoy one of the recipes that we serve our guests, which is called Spinach Portobello Frittata. The name describes it well, but it also has asparagus & lots of cheese. (Nearly everything tastes better with lots of cheese!)

Where do you go to get away?  

We love to go wine tasting in Virginia.

And do you stay at a B&B?

Of course!

Finally, what’s the funniest thing you’ve found left in a room?

A full suitcase. It is hard to imagine leaving your full suitcase in your room when you leave. It turns out that you can simply take a suitcase to the US Post Office (unwrapped), put a label on it and mail it. Who knew?


For more information

The Queen Victoria is located at 102 Ocean Street in Cape May and is open year-round. For more information about the B&B, please visit queenvictoria.com.


New liquor store to open; Little Store temporarily closed

Location of the new Joe Canal’s | Photo: Michelle Giorla

If you make the trip to Rio Grande to stock your cooler but you’re tired of getting stuck in summer traffic, we’re happy to tell you that Joe Canal’s Liquors is being constructed on the site of the former Cape Liquors at 918 Route 109 (to your right before the main bridge, next to Urgent Care).

According to the contractor our photographer spoke to, construction is expected to be complete in April or May.

The Little Store is temporarily closed | Photo: Michelle Giorla

And now some bad news. Earlier this year, The Little Store – that darling coffee shop and bakery that opened in 2015 – announced that it would close. “But hopefully not for good,” according to their website, which says they’d to move to a new location. The Little Store hasn’t responded to our request for comment, so we don’t have information on where or when they might be reopening.


Behind the scenes of the upcoming thriller ‘Exit 0’

Federico Castelluccio (The Sopranos), who plays a detective,  filming on the porch of the Doctor’s Inn | Photo courtey of E.B. Hughes

Exit 0, an upcoming suspense thriller starring Gabe Fazio and Augie Duke, recently filmed at the Doctor’s Inn B&B in Cape May Court House and various locations around Cape May. We caught up with writer, director, producer E.B. Hughes and got the scoop on the film, what role Cape May played in the production, and when you can see it.

Why did you select Cape May for the film’s location?

I am an Ocean City resident. The storyline of this film, EXIT 0, revolves around a couple who come down from New York and stay at an old Victorian Inn, one that the male character used to visit as a child, and one that carries dark secrets from his past—that become more prevalent as the story unfolds.

So, Cape May was a logical choice for me. I have always loved Cape May—have frequented the town throughout the years—and can’t remember many, if any, films being shot there. It’s a beautiful town, and one that should be exploited more. The historic nature, the beauty of the old homes add flavor, and the town is meant to be photographed.

Cast and crew at the Doctors Inn | Photo courtesy of E.B. Hughes

You filmed at the Doctor’s Inn in Cape May Court House. What made you select that B&B?

I had reached out to several B&Bs in Cape May, some had shown interest, but none were willing to readily commit. I was literally sitting at a red light one day, and glanced over to my left and saw the Doctor’s Inn. I was intrigued and knocked on the door. The owner wasn’t there, but I called and spoke to her, arranged a meeting, and I told her my plans. She was surprisingly interested, and part of the deal was to lodge some of the cast and crew at the Inn, and also use it as the primary location. It worked out perfectly.

What places in Cape May will we be able to recognize?

Though the name of the town is never mentioned in the film—it’s really a no-name small shore town—viewers will definitely be able to recognize parts of Washington Street Mall. Some side streets will be recognizable. Parts of Beach Avenue were used for driving sequences. I shot the detective scenes at the Cape May Police station. Chief Marino and his staff were incredibly kind and supportive of the project. We also shot two nights at the restaurant Elaine’s Cape May. Everyone was just incredibly helpful.

Peter Greene (Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects) on set at the Doctor’s Inn | Photo courtesy of E.B. Hughes

What was the biggest challenge you faced shooting in Cape May during the off season?

Though off season was part of the storyline, the unpredictable winter weather [was our biggest challenge]. Some of the days were quite cold. One day we were shooting exterior shots, and there were some snow flurries. That was not in the script, but it certainly didn’t shut down production. The week before we started filming, we had a bad snow storm, so all in all we got pretty lucky with the weather overall.

You’ve got 25 screenplays to your name. Did you write this one?

Yes, I wrote the screenplay during the late winter early spring months of 2017.

What are your favorite genres to produce/direct, and what are your favorites as a moviegoer?

I’m drawn to character-driven dramas, many films from the early 70s- like Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, Night Moves, The Conversation—heavy-handed dramas. The storyline surrounding EXIT 0 is multi-layered—but also a mixed genre film. I wouldn’t classify it completely as a psychological thriller, but also a drama—very character-driven, but with elements of horror, mystery mixed with a psychological thriller.

You just wrapped filming, so this might be premature, but is there a target release date? How can we see the film?

It’s tough to say. The editing process can sometimes be a lengthy one. But I’m aiming for sometime in the fall for festivals, and also target distribution companies. I’d like to do a local screening, but also a private screening in New York—because most of the cast & crew are from that area.

At the moment there is a Facebook page for EXIT 0. I will keep everyone updated as to the progress we are making.


Note: Only a handful of movies have filmed in Cape May, the earliest being comedy shorts in 1913.


Cape May Stained Glass Company opens in West Cape May

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Cape May Stained Glass Company opened for business in West Cape May last week. Located on Park Boulevard, the gallery space features works not only by owner/stained glass artist Christopher Michalek, but by several other local artists and artisans, among them Jimm Ross, Mary Stewart, Patricia Piacentine, Jeffrey Hebron, and Bill Bader, to name but a few.

Michalek said he wants to offer a space for artists to display their work on a commission basis (“and we all chip in at the end of the month for the utilities”), rather than having to pay up front for wall space as is often the case in other galleries.  

Among the wares available in the gallery are paintings, jewelry, leather goods, reclaimed wood pieces, and of course, stained glass. You can follow Cape May Stained Glass Company on Facebook and on Instagram at @michalekchristopher.


Coffee and curry: two new favorites opening this spring

Exit Zero Cookhouse’s former location | Photo: Michelle Giorla

If you were looking forward to warming up with their curry this winter, we’re sorry to tell you that the Exit Zero Cookhouse is temporarily closed. But the Exit Zero Filling Station, just across Sunset Boulevard, will be opening late this spring. The complex will include a gas station, merchandise, restaurant, and coffee and sandwiches to go.


Three longtime Cape May businesses close shop

Like any city, Cape May has its fixtures. And one of them, Cheeks, which stood at 101 Ocean Street across from the Queen Victoria, has closed its doors after 35 years. The clothing store first opened shop in 1983 and evolved into a source for flax clothing. 

“It has been our greatest joy to serve each and every one of you,” reads the message on their website.

The inside is undergoing renovations and will become an expanded dining area for another Cape May icon, the Queen Victoria B&B, which owns the building. Says owner Doug McMain, “Once complete, hopefully early this Spring, we’ll be converting the space we currently use for dining in that building to a new guest room. Both revitalized rooms will be stunning and beautiful.”


Six things to do in Cape May this Valentine’s Day

You might think of Cape May as a summer-only destination, but it’s beautiful here year-round. Our off season is quiet, and there isn’t as much to do during the week like there is in the height of August, but if you’re looking for somewhere less crowded to spend Valentine’s Day, keep us on your list. Here’s our guide to what’s happening this year.


Experience the Chocolate Lovers Feast at the Blue Rose Inn

One morning, my wife asked if I would like to attend a chocolate tasting. Well, being a sweets addict and chocolate lover, there was no way i was passing up the opportunity to satisfy my addiction. We arrived at the Blue Rose Inn on Washington Street and, to my surprise, it was a full house. I was happy to see a local business doing so well on a December day.