It’s June, which means it’s time for CapeMay.com’s 13th annual roundup of the changes our town has gone through in the last year or so. Grab a snack and prepare to say goodbye to a few friends as we welcome new ones to town. Here’s who’s new, who’s moved, and who’s gone: the 2017 edition.
Note: new and relocated business names are emphasized.
The biggest change in Cape May last year was the new Rotary Park. This project completed last summer and includes a large central fountain, abundant greenery, and a new Victorian-style bandstand with a glass cupola. A lot of people were sad about the loss of trees, and many clung to nostalgia the old park evoked, but the new Rotary Park is not only an aesthetic improvement but accessible.
The Lafayette Street Park project is still underway. The first of this four-phase project wrapped last September. Future plans include new sports facilities, seating for spectators, additional parking, and the restoration of nature trails around Cape Island Creek.
Heading over to Washington Commons, NY Bagels has been replaced by Egg & Dart Breakfast Cafe. A sign in the front windows says they’ll be opening soon. We weren’t able to located a website or Facebook, so no clue what they’re planning to offer, but we’ll be checking it out once they’re open.
Cape Coastal Properties, managed by broker/owner Maryann Donahue, opened in the Commons last fall, as well as a new branch of Crest Savings Bank. Rip Tide East is out, but Rip Tide West is still there. We hear there may be an art gallery of some sort going in.
We heard a rumor that Bonnie’s Toppings would not be in the Commons this summer, but we just called to confirm. Yes, they will be operating in their current location.
The Cape May rumor mill never sleeps, and a recent one is that ACME Markets will be expanding their Lafayette Street location. Their media contact told us that ACME has negotiated a lease with the landlord and they are currently exploring all options.
Stepping over to Ocean Street for a moment (since we’re already over this way), the men’s store Galvanic has opened a second location at 208 Ocean Street. This pop-up store, which will be open now through September, carries footwear, bags, and accessories. Once the season’s over? The merchandise will be available in their main store at 514 Washington Street. They’re not going anywhere.
Which brings us to…
The Washington Street Mall
Let’s start on the 500 block. Last year, we told you that Happy Helpers, a hostel for creative types, was opening above A Ca Mia. Well, that project never got off the ground, so they’re out.
Down Liberty Way, Resort Wear Outlet is now Kahuna Jack’s. Sunglass Menagerie has moved up to Beach Avenue next to Coffee Tyme, in the space previously occupied by Exit Zero’s retail store. Sunglass Menagerie’s former spot is currently empty. The children’s clothing store Peanut & Choobie, which had occupied that space last summer, has moved off of the mall. Their Facebook and Instagram accounts are active, as well as their online store, so they appear to be virtual-only for now. Lady Pandora is gone, and Shades of Cape May has moved into their space. The last shop on the right still appears to be used for storage.
One block over on Carpenters Lane, the Italian Garden bath shop has gone out and been replaced by the gift shop Quirk & Co. We stopped in a few weeks ago. This family-run shop carries items hand-made within 100 miles of Cape May. It’s like a walk-in Etsy. You’ll see items from there in the pages of an upcoming Cape May Magazine.
On the 400 block of Washington Street, Latitude Cape May, a women’s boutique, has opened in City Center Mall. They carry a variety of jewelry, accessories, and clothing. Across the mall, you might notice that Makers Making is now GIVENS circle. It’s the same store, same owners, same unique finds–just a name change.
The 300 block has several changes to report! In the mini mall behind Uncle Charley’s ice cream parlor, we’re told Petit Decor will be replaced by Crepe Mey, specializing in homemade crepes with fruit fillings. (Yum!) Remember Cape May Popcorn and Pizza, which occupied the building at the end of the Washington Street Mall across from the Victorian Motel? They closed their doors at the end of last season and the building underwent a complete remodel. The Washington Street side is now home to Victorious, which moved from its former Congress Hall location. The brand new Cash & Clive has moved into the Carpenters Lane side. They carry a gorgeous selection of clothing and accessories, in a bright space our creative team wanted to borrow for our office. (If we go missing, we’re probably in C&C’s swanky little sitting area.)
Across the street at Congress Hall, Cape Island Bikes has added bicycle and accessory sales to their Perry Street location. Queen May Estate Jewelry is opening a second jewelry store at Congress Hall.
Elsewhere in Cape May
The Spice Cellar of Cape May, part of Cape May Gourmet, has taken the Madd Potter’s Studio’s space beneath the Merry Widow at 324 Carpenters Lane.
Down Washington Street, the Michael Kara store, part of the Kara Restaurant Group (think George’s Place and the YB), is out. Shore Soaps has opened their flagship store at 658 Washington Street! Their soaps are vegan and homemade in small batches, and the store is adorable.
Madison’s Bakery, a baked goods and coffee shop, is opening at 701 Beach Avenue, in the Beach Theatre complex. The space was previously occupied by Summersalt.
On Mansion Street, behind the 300 block of the mall (adjacent to Collier’s), Island Grill is out. Carol Herforth is now managing the Cold Spring Grange Restaurant at Historic Cold Spring Village. In its place is Iccara by Vince Sanzona of Vincenzo’s in North Cape May.
This summer, Fresco’s on Bank Street will be managed by the owners of the Pier House (more on the Pier House in a moment).
The ice cream parlor at Cape May Miniature Golf on Jackson Street is gone. Going forward, they are solely a mini golf course. Accent on Beauty moved across the street to Sunset, next to Bird House.
So Nice, the sandwich shop next to the bike shop at Lafayette and Elmira, has closed.
The Cape May Soda Company has opened up shop! You can get a taste of their homemade soda flavors at Empanada Mama’s on Park Boulevard. This isn’t soda made from pre-made syrups or mixes; they start with fresh fruit, including locally grown strawberries. Soda is available in etched growlers. Their Facebook page says they’ll be at the Strawberry Festival this coming weekend (if we’re not rained out).
Over in West Cape May, Cape May Bakers is out. The West End Garage plans to expand into the space and add a coffee shop. The Steger family (yes, the ones with the signature blue cabanas) are opening Steger Beach Co, an apparel company, in West End Garage.
If you’ve driven past La Mer lately, you might have noticed that the Pier House restaurant is, well, missing. The restaurant was demolished at the beginning of the year. According to La Mer’s website, the new restaurant (which they’re still calling the Pier House for now) will reopen in the fall and feature Mediterranean-American cuisine.
In other restaurant news, the Mad Batter has a brand-new front porch! Local contractor Hawthorne Davis handled the project to replace the old structure with an airy, enclosed design. High-backed booths are tucked along the wall where the service station used to be, the entrances are less crowded, and windows will keep the space comfortable no matter the weather. Last week, the Kulkowitz family hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new addition.
Did you know that Mayer’s Tavern, which closed its doors in 2015, was bought by the family who owns the Lobster House? Renovations are underway, so the restaurant and bar will not be completed for this season, but we’re looking forward to the future reopening.
ETA: The Cape May Running Company is moving into 305 B Beach Avenue, near George’s Place. Owners Mike Mader and Harry Back plan to be your all-things running source. In addition to running gear, they organize daily runs at 7am. (Thanks to Diane Hutchison for the tip!)
In the world of B&Bs, we’ve had a few change hands. The Mission Inn sold to Wendy Collins and Laura Shaddock. (Happy retirement to Susan and Ray Roberts!) Pharo’s Guest House, which had been in the same family for decades, sold last October to Andrew Bares and is now part of the Harrison. The Inn at the Park sold in December to the owners of the Cape May Peanut Butter Company. We’re told it will continue to operate as a B&B.
Dreaming about becoming an innkeeper? You’re in luck. The circa 1884 Cliveden Inn, an 11-bedroom B&B at 709 Columbia Avenue, is on the market for $1.425 million.
We’ve also lost a few B&Bs this year: Windward House, White Dove Cottage, and the Bayberry Inn are now private homes.
Notable changes outside Cape May
North of the canal, Harpoon Henry’s sold in September 2016. They are now Harpoon’s on the Bay. We mentioned it last year, but the former Bayshore Inn is now the Red Brick Ale House and offers brick-oven pizzas in their updated restaurant and bar. Cape May Olive Oil Company has a new Blending Room at the Cape May Airport, where you can enjoy olive oil tastings and take home a custom oil blend. Red Store Chef Lucas Manteca’s Taqueria, a taco shop, has opened next to Cape May Brewing Company. We can’t wait to eat there.
Nauti Spirits, a farm-to-bottle distillery, has opened for business in Lower Township at 916 Shunpike Road. One of the founders is Corey Bryan, formerly of The Lemon Tree! The distillery is open daily and offers tastings and self-guided tours. You’re welcome to bring your own food. (Look for them in the upcoming June issue of Cape May Magazine!)
Rio Grande (exit four off the Parkway) is now home to McDonald’s, which opened over the winter where Sonic used to be, in front of Lowe’s. Taco Bell is coming back to 1403 Route 47 in Rio Grande, in the location formerly occupied by Dos Amigos (which was delicious, and as we understand, has relocated). Yes, we did say “coming back” — years ago, this same location was home to a Taco Bell.
Our JC Penney is one of the multiple locations being shut down by the company and is scheduled to be closed shortly. The grocery chain Aldi has opened in the Lowes complex, giving you an alternative to Shop Rite’s Saturday crowds. The Off-Shore motel, located just next to Exit 4 (beside Tokyo restaurant), is now a Red Roof Inn®.
ETA: Marie Nicole’s Restaurant in Diamond Beach just informed us that they moved to Avalon! In its place, the same restaurant group opened de ninno’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar on June 2nd.
We’ve heard a couple rumors we haven’t been able to verify, but we’ll add them if we get additional information. Do you know of a change that we missed? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll add it!