- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Category: Business

Two new hotels coming to Cape May in 2019

Another summer season has come to a close and change is already upon us, but exciting things are in store for 2019.

The Cape Winds Motel on Lafayette closed its doors this month and will undergo a total renovation over the winter, reopening next summer as the surf-inspired Boarding House. Philadelphia firm DAS Architects is behind the new design, which looks like it will be well-appointed but comfortable and salt-worn. Definitely the kind of place to kick back for a weekend.

Illustration courtesy of Boarding House

Illustration courtesy of Boarding House

The Boarding House is owned and operated by the Hirsch family of the Montreal Beach Resort, who bought the property in 2015, so it will offer the same level of service — plus a wine and beer hour every evening that will let guests sample offerings from area wineries and breweries.

Good news: The hotel will be dog friendly.

And while we’re on the subject of new hotels, also coming to Cape May next year is Lokal Hotel. Cape May will be the fourth location for the brand, which began as an urban hotel in Philadelphia that has been recognized by dwell, dezeen, and design milk. When complete, their Cape May property (at 5 Stockton Place) will offer eight apartment-style suites, a saltwater pool, and a courtyard that can hold up to 120 guests for special events.

Rendering of Lokal Hotel’s location in Cape May

Owners Chad and Courtney Ludeman have relocated to the area so they can be onsite, but this won’t be a traditionally staffed hotel–it offers “invisible service.” Imagine an AirBNB married up to a guest house. But if Lokal’s plans for Cape May are anything like their other hotels, look forward to a rustic-modern place on the beachfront.

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.

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.

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.

Lynn Arden’s Children Shoppe closes after 35 years

Photo by Michelle Giorla

It’s a blustery day in March and the windows at Lynn Arden’s Children Shoppe are covered in fluorescent pink and green paper you can see a block away. Signs in the first and second-story windows advertise “Huge Sale” and “Fantastic Prizes.” A lone stroller waits below the bay window, and above the door, in the same shocking pink, a large banner announces “Store closing.”

Two businesses leave Washington Commons

Since January, two businesses – Cape May Gourmet and Valentino’s – announced their decision to leave Washington Commons, the cluster of shops on Ocean Street adjacent to the Acme parking lot. But don’t worry, both stores plan to re-open in new locations.

According to Cape May Gourmet’s Facebook page, “After several store layouts…we have decided to relocate to a larger and more efficient space to better serve you.” Their target date to reopen is this spring. If you’re worried you won’t be able to bear the winter without their gourmet offerings, the ravioli will be available at their sister store, Cape May Olive Oil Company, at 324 Carpenter’s Lane. Cape May Peanut Butter Company also carries a handful of other favorites.

We’d noticed that Valentino’s Coins and Collectibles had cleared out their space a few weeks ago. While they haven’t announced the site of their new location yet, they’re in the process of adding their extensive inventory of coins and collectibles to their website. “This will take time,” they said on Facebook. If you’re looking for something specific they haven’t added yet, you can give them a call at 609-889-1165. Valentino’s also plans to appear at trade shows.

A third business may be on its way out of Washington Commons. The restaurant Asian Legends, which replaced Cape Orient in 2016, is closed by a February 7th state order for nonpayment of taxes. We have no information on whether they will be reopening (and no idea where we’ll get our green tea mochi ice cream fix during the summer).

The Washington Commons Shopping Center would have been affected by a radical redevelopment zone proposal that was defeated in January.

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.

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.

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.