- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

The Garden Club of Cape May Flower Show

Opening at noon on Friday, May 11th, the Garden Club of Cape May presented “Victorian Poetry in Bloom” the theme of  their annual flower show at Convention Hall. Attendees to the show were treated to four presentations by experts in flower judging, gardening design,Victorian literature and Victorian attire.  The reception hall was lined with donated baskets that were being auctioned off and plate after plate of sweets and light beverages. The annual show is the biggest fundraiser for the club during the year. It was widely attended this year after an introduction by Cape May City Major, Chuck Lear.


A look inside Secondo, the newest location for Panico’s Bistro

We have great news for all you Panico’s fans! The Italian bistro has opened their second location in Cape May, appropriately named Secondo, at 991 Ocean Drive just before the 2-mile bridge. The location was formerly Axelsson’s Blue Claw Restaurant.


The people from Panico’s did a stellar job renovating the inside and outside of the restaurant.  There’s now a bright, spacious dining room with sleek furnishings, mosaic tile, and a waterfront view. And Secondo has an added bonus, besides all the delicious food–a fully stocked bar! 

At a glance, the menu looks similar to Panico’s and includes their specialty brick oven pizzas, but Secondo has added an oyster bar. We ate there opening night. The waitstaff was prompt and courteous, and seemed right at home despite it being their first night open. The food was delicious, as always, and we wish them great success.

Photos by Michelle Giorla

Mother’s Day brunch and dinner in Cape May

Cape May Mother's Day 2018

Celebrate Mother’s Day with brunch or dinner at the following Cape May restaurants. Reservations are strongly recommended where available.

Aleathea’s at the Inn of Cape May – Beachfront for Mother’s Day Serving dinner from 4-8pm. For reservations, call 609-884-5555.

Beach Plum Farm Brunch – Where better to usher in Mother’s Day than in this magical setting of the 62-acre Beach Plum Farm, where signs of spring are everywhere?!  Guests can enjoy a farm-to-table family brunch at the farm featuring farm-fresh eggs cooked several ways, their own sausage and bacon, and all the other classic favorites.  Chef Todd Phillips will be using ingredients harvested right from our farm for his buffet menu. Enjoy communal seating in the picnic grove and hoop house. A cash bar featuring festive Mimosas, wine, and Bloody Mary’s will also be available.  Seatings are at 10am, 11am, 12pm, and 1pm. $35 per adult, $15 for children ages 4-12. Seating is limited, visit to make reservations.  Beach Plum Farm is located at 140 Stevens Street, West Cape May, NJ 08204 and can be contacted by calling 609-602-0128.

Congress Hall Brunch — Guests can leave the cooking to the chefs at Congress Hall this Mother’s Day and take the special women in their lives out for a decadent brunch. The Grand Ballroom will host the popular annual buffet, featuring omelets made to order, carving stations, and delectable baked goods. Kids can enjoy a ride on the Congress Hall Express around the beautiful veranda and Grand Lawn. Brunch runs from 9am – 2pm and is $42 for adults and $16 for kids ages 4-12. Reservations can be made by calling 609-884-6542. Congress Hall is located at 200 Congress Place, Cape May 08204.

Grand Hotel (Hemingway’s)– Breakfast in the 5th floor oceanfront penthouse from 8am – 11am. $19.95 adults; $11.95 children 12 and under.  Brunch 11:30 -2 with additions available. $34.95 adults; $14.95 children 12 and under. Reservations are required. Call 609-884-5611 ext. 516.

The Merion Inn – Mother’s Day Sit-down brunch from $12; Supper from $19. Add $10 for appetizer and dessert. Not a buffet! Regular menu and Mother’s Day Specials served noon to 8pm (including a few brunch items ‘til 1:30)  For reservations, call 609-884-8363.

The Rusty Nail:  Chef Jimmy’s Fried Chicken – There’s nothing like Mom’s cooking, especially when your mom’s fried chicken recipe is famous. The Rusty Nail’s Executive Chef, James Burton, learned his way around the kitchen from his mom, Dot, and honors her legacy every Mother’s Day by cooking up her famous fried chicken. Guests can enjoy a half of a Southern Fried Chicken with a side of mac-and-cheese, collard greens and cornbread for $19.95, and to sweeten the deal, every lady who orders the special will receive a complimentary sweet tea or sweet tea cocktail.  The Rusty Nail is located at 205 Beach Ave, Cape May 08204 and can be contacted by calling 609-884-0017.

SeaSalt– Celebrate Mother’s Day at the beach. Brunch served 11am – 2pm . 3-course prix fixe with a specialty brunch cocktail. Live jazz music with the Herb Moore trio. $35 per person +tax and gratuity. Reservations suggested. 1035 Beach Avenue, 609-884-7000.

Tisha’s – Mother’s Day Brunch being served 10am to 2:30pm. For reservations, call 609-884-9119.

Union Park – Union Park is serving a 3-course fixed-price Mother’s Day menu from 2 – 8pm. $35 per person + tax and gratuities. For reservations, call 609-884-8811.

The Washington Inn – Mother’s Day Brunch from 10am to 2pm. A La Carte dining room will be open from 4-7pm with an a la carte menu. For reservations, call 609-884-5697.

Outside of Cape May

Coastal Blue at Hotel Icona – 3 course Mother’s Day Brunch includes morning entrees, a carving station, salads, lunch entrees, desserts and baked goods. $32 adults; $15 for children under 12. For reservations, call 609-224-1124. In Wildwood Crest at 9701 Atlantic Avenue.

A look inside the newly renovated Mayer’s Tavern

The restored exterior of the Mayer’s Tavern, with new roof and siding. The windows with sunburst detail above them were discovered during renovations. | Photo credit: Michelle Giorla

A couple weeks ago, we told you that Mayer’s Tavern—a longtime locals’ favorite that had closed in 2015—has reopened following the building’s restoration. We spoke with Alex Laudeman, who was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of her time, to get the details on the new menu and her plan for Mayer’s going forward.

What was involved in the renovation? Was it a big undertaking?

Alex: Yes! It was a very big undertaking. We first started working on it in early 2016, but really ramped up the renovation in 2017. Essentially, everything except the bar had to be pulled out of the first floor. The floors were rotted through to the outside in many places, the ceiling was falling in, and the back of house had to be completely gutted and redone. We discovered some gems while pulling everything apart—most notably the large windows with sunburst accents on the front of the building that had been boarded up for longer than anyone can remember. Additionally we replaced all the exterior siding and put on a new roof. Even though we had to replace so much, we tried to mostly put things back in a similar but refreshed way.

The tavern was known for its scallops. What will we find on your new menu?

We will have scallops, of course. Our menu will change here and there with seafood and produce availability but we strive to have something for everyone. We have a burger, salads, raw bar items, and some surprises.

Who’s the chef?

Me, but I shy away from that title! ;-)

Large windows with a sunburst accent (pictured right) were discovered boarded up during renovations. | Photo credit: Michelle Giorla

The restaurant had the reputation of being a locals-only establishment. Going forward, will you be appealing to tourists?

Everyone is welcome!  We’re a little off the beaten Cape May path, but if you can find us I think it will be worth it.

Will there be a sign for the restaurant on 109?

Yes, the incredible Brian DeMusz made us a new sign that will be on 109.

Will Mayer’s be open year-round?

Not sure. We are very much focused on the opening and the summer at the moment.

What would you recommend we order from the bar?

We’ll have a rotating cocktail list, but the staff favorite right now is the Spicer Creek Sunset. It’s an herbal, zippy, refreshing cocktail made with Stiegl Radler grapefruit.

The restored dining area | Photo credit: Michelle Giorla

Does Mayer’s have an affiliation with the Lobster House?

I’m a Laudeman so yes, there is a link, but we are operating independently.

Is there anything else you want to share with us?

We are humbled by the generosity and interest the community has show to this project. Restoring this old building has been such a fun adventure and we are so excited to share it!

Mayer’s Tavern is located at 894 3rd Ave. They’re currently open Thursday through Sunday, 5pm to 10pm.

First look inside the 2018 Cape May Designer Show House

Photo credit: John Armich

The 2018 Cape May Designer Show House, presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC), is nothing short of stunning. Built in 1911, the John P. Forsythe House was part of the East Cape May Project in the early 1900s, which had the goal of making Beach Avenue the most elegant street in Cape May. The home was recently purchased by Patrick and Kristen McGonigal and underwent a $2.5 million renovation. Crews took it down to studs, converting the 12-bedroom mansion to 8 bedrooms, 6 full baths, and 2 half baths—with all three floors accessible by an elevator. It’s appropriate that the Jurassic Park theme is playing as I type this, because what John Hammond says throughout the movie is true for this show house as well: “We spared no expense.”

We toured the home on a Thursday in early April. The weather had been cold and stormy since the beginning of the year, with regular weekend storms and temperatures hovering around freezing. Still, mulch had been put down in the garden beds that awaited plants, making the air around the house smell like springtime. Someone was affixing stone capping to the supporting wall as we made our way along the sidewalk and up the porch steps. Outdoor furniture wrapped in delivery plastic crowded each end of the wrap-around porch. We sidestepped it and went through the front door.

Local favorite Mayer’s Tavern reopens in Cape May

In a small town, a text received ten minutes prior to the official opening of a business counts as “word of mouth.” The iconic Mayer’s Tavern, having undergone a total renovation and under new ownership (by the Laudemans of Lobster House fame) opened for business at 5pm last night, and the word of mouth worked—the place was packed by 6:30.

The previous dive bar, which has been closed since 2015, now sports a straightforward, casual look and feel, with a separate dining room and bar area—and very cool bathroom sinks, by the way.  

Mayer’s Bar & Restaurant, tucked off Route 109 and facing Miss Chris Marina, features a simple but inventive menu of Small Plates, Appetizers, Mains, Sides, Raw and Cold, and the intriguing Shellfish Towers.  And while the pool table is gone, the much beloved scallops remain.

As of this writing, they are open 5–10pm.

Victorian Towers gets a little TLC

Photo by Michelle Giorla

Victorian Towers, at the corner of Washington and Ocean streets, is receiving some TLC! In addition to new windows, the building is being re-sided with new trim.

Victorian Towers was constructed as part of the $3.2 million, 77-acre Victorian Village Urban Renewal Project approved in 1965. Over 100 properties were demolished in order to create three new streets, several large parking lots, and Victorian Towers to house the town’s elderly residents. It remains a senior low-income housing apartment.

Fill ‘er up soon at the Exit Zero Filling Station

Framing for the new Exit Zero Filling Station on Sunset Boulevard in West Cape May is well underway. The restaurant will have “a soaring ceiling – nearly 35 feet high, with floor to ceiling white-wood fireplace,” said Jack Wright, editor and publisher of Exit Zero.

Once completed, the Exit Zero Cookhouse will share the new building with a retail store and a gasoline station. You’ll be able to fuel your car, feed your family, and take home some memorable items from Cape May all at one time.

The goal is to have a grand opening well before the Fourth of July.

Behind the stills at Nauti Spirits Distillery

The distillery at Nauti Spirits | Photo credit: AJ Giorla

It was a windy evening when we pulled onto the gravel road leading back to Nauti Spirits Distillery, an unassuming cluster of red-roofed buildings a distance from the road. We’d been invited to an industry-only night, and since I’d never visited the distillery since they opened last year, our blog team (consisting of me and Michelle) begged a favor from a photographer slash designated driver (Michelle’s husband) and met our sales rep (Kathleen) there ten minutes to six.