It’s June, which means it’s time for our annual roundup of business changes in Cape May over the past twelve months. As it happens every year, we are saying goodbye to a few long-time businesses and welcoming new faces to town. I won’t bore you with a big lead-in, so let’s get to it. (As always, we welcome you to submit changes that aren’t listed here so we can add them. My email is at the end of this post.)
What’s new in accommodations
We are down three B&Bs this season.
The Blue Rose Inn at 653 Washington Street is for sale. This season, they’ve scaled back their previous bed & breakfast offerings and are operating as a four-room inn. As far as we know, the attached restaurant is permanently closed. If you’re interested in buying the Victorian building, built in 1885, here’s the information on Realtor.com. It’s currently on the market for $1.9 million.
The Albert Stevens Inn converted to a whole-house rental for the 2019 season.
Finally, the Gingerbread House is now a private residence.
Good news! Rhythm of the Sea was recently purchased and is continuing operation as a B&B.
The Bedford Inn has sold but is staying a B&B.
The Bacchus Inn Cottage at 710 Lafayette is for sale. The cottage will remain part of the B&B until it has sold, and the Bacchus Inn will continue operating as a bed and breakfast at their main building, 719 Columbia. (Thank you to John for the update!)
The Harrison B&B bought the Ashley Rose, which is currently getting a new paint job. While it’s run as a cottage rental, guests have the option of adding housekeeping and breakfast services to their stay, making it a sort of B&B hybrid.
La Mer has added 21 new guest rooms to their beachfront hotel, which finishes its two-year renovation project later this month.
Boarding House is now open at 810 Lafayette Street. It was formerly the Cape Winds. The motel underwent a complete renovation this winter (down to studs and concrete). The new design is inspired by Cape May’s surfing culture. Their ribbon cutting ceremony is this Wednesday, June 5. We’ll be sure to get pictures.
Lokal Hotel will be opening their new Cape May location on Stockton this summer. The mini resort will feature eight apartment-style rooms, a saltwater pool, and invisible service — no front desk, no on-site staff. The tech-savvy will love it. And if you’d rather deal with a human, they can make that happen too. Based on photos of the brand’s other locations (including Fishtown and Maurice River), we can’t wait to see the interior once it’s completed. They’re taking reservations now.
And finally, the Inn of Cape May is sporting a new paint job.
What’s new in dining
410 Bank Street has new owners! Chef Ron Penczner has pledged to continue 410’s legacy. They’re open seven days a week for the season and serve a Louisiana-style brunch every Sunday.
Elaine’s at 515 Lafayette Street has finished renovations to Phinney’s Pub. The pub and their outdoor restaurant, The Porch, are open to the public. You don’t have to attend the dinner theater. They have an extensive menu featuring gourmet burgers and seafood, and the Porch serves breakfast. We welcomed the warmer weather with their cheddar fondue last week, and I want more of it. (Maybe serve it with apple slices?)
As we mentioned above, to the best of our knowledge, the Blue Rose Inn restaurant at 653 Washington Street is permanently closed.
The Depot at 409 Elmira sold last year and has reopened with a fresh look and brand-new menu. They’re offering burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and some breakfast items. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, plus takeout and free local delivery. I’ve sampled their buffalo chicken nachos and breakfast sandwiches. They don’t skimp on the portions and the flavor was great.
In Washington Commons, Egg & Dart Cafe will not reopen…but it’s for a good reason. The staff is returning to the Pier House, which is reopening this June at La Mer Beachfront Inn after two years of renovations. The old Pier House was demolished at the end of 2016 to make room for an extension. If you loved the old menu, good news! It’s back.
The Exit Zero Filling Station is operating at their new location, 110 Sunset Boulevard, and they now have a full bar.
The BYOB Italian restaurant Viggiano’s on Sunset has opened at 109 Sunset Boulevard under the direction of owner and chef Mark Viggiano. Their first location is in Conshohocken, PA.
Sunset Liquors at 106 Sunset Boulevard has new owners.
Next door, Christina and Andrew Cyhan have opened Homestyle to Go and Crest Gourmet — a catering company and takeout restaurant specializing in wholesome meals prepared daily. Their menu offers sandwiches and wraps, gourmet burgers, and quinoa bowls. (It probably wasn’t a good idea to look at it while hungry.) They also have kombucha on tap!
The Sand Witch Shop on Route 109 across from South Jersey Marina has closed. Beef Jerky Outlet has opened in its place.
Up on the beachfront, Nick Filet is opening a new location in Sunglass Menagerie’s old location next to Coffee Tyme. Their signature sandwich is ⅓ pound of filet on a kaiser roll. And assuming their Pennsylvania location’s menu gives an accurate prediction of what they’ll offer in Cape May, they’ll also be serving lobster rolls and grilled cheese.
Cabanas Beach Bar & Grill underwent extensive renovations this winter. They removed the facade from the back of the restaurant and discovered signage belonging to the Ocean View Summer Garden & Family Resort, which operated opposite the Iron Pier. We were able to find a reference to it in an 1890 copy of the Cape May Daily Star.
Currently, the entire Decatur Street building (which houses Cabanas and the Iron Pier Craft House) is getting a facelift. They’re open; please excuse the dust.
The Cold Spring Grange welcomes proprietors EJ & Amanda Ruhl for the 2019 season! They’re now open six days a week, closed Mondays. And great news for dog owners: the porch is pet friendly. (Thank you to Anne H. for the update!)
What’s new in shopping
We’ll give you the saddest news first. Longtime Cape May staple All Irish Imports has closed their doors. The gift store, which specialized in (you guessed it) high-quality Irish imports, opened in 1982. Truly the end of an era. The building has been purchased by Mickey Chew of Big Wave Burrito, and we understand it will be an ice cream shop.
Last year, the clothing store Galvanic moved their entire operation to 301 Washington Street, where Cucina Rosa used to be (but you won’t recognize it — make sure to pop in and see the changes). Their inventory now includes men’s and women’s clothing, as well as Hershel bags. They closed their pop-up store on Ocean Street, which is now a private residence.
Quirk & Co. moved from their tiny spot on Carpenters Lane into Galvanic’s former (and much larger — and right across from us!) location at 514 Washington Street. Quirk carries hand-made jewelry, home decor, and gifts. Imagine a walk-in Etsy.
At 510 Carpenters Lane, in Quirk’s former location, is the jewelry store Trinkets. They carry contemporary jewelry (and some art) that our staff fell in love with.
Across the alley from Quirk is the new store BEACHLOVE, which is cozying up next to Colors. Colors has downsized to half of the 518 Washington Street building. BEACHLOVE carries clothing, home decor, gifts, and Chestnut Neck Primitives Candles.
Streets of Cape May, specializing in panoramic watercolors of Cape May, opened in the former Pearls location at 518 Carpenters Lane.
At the corner of Lafayette and Elmira, at 523 Lafayette Street, is Olde Pear Primitives, selling hand-made primitive decor by Jamie and Genevieve Lugo, a husband-and-wife team.
Bella has replaced Kinkade Gallery in Washington Commons. This boutique carries women’s clothing and is now open!
Cape May Linen has opened in the old Exit Zero location at 109 Sunset Boulevard. They’re celebrating 30 years in business.
Cape May Market has a new owner, Yvette LeFebre.
Cape May Dips, Sticks & Gifts has opened next to Cape May Honey at 135 Sunset Boulevard. According to their Facebook page, they are a gourmet tasting shop specializing in olive oils, vinegar, and locally made jams and spreads.
Cape May Carts didn’t go far but moved into Cape May Fitness’s old location in 600 Park Boulevard. They rent street-legal golf carts and low-speed vehicles, and they’re adding electric mopeds this year. (Thanks to Lauren L. for the info!)
What’s new north of the bridge
For me, this is the worst news I have to share. Tokyo, the Japanese restaurant in Rio Grande (three minutes from my house) is not set to reopen. When I talked to the owner, he admitted he’s burned out running restaurants (after all, he has three). The building is for sale. Momiji and Murasaki, Tokyo’s sister restaurants in Rio Grande and Court House, are still open. RIP, my favorite Haru lunch special and katsudon.
The new Starbucks has opened at 3407 South Route 9 in Rio Grande. This one’s got a drive through. The old location across the street has closed.
The Walmart in Rio Grande has expanded to a supercenter and now includes a full grocery store.
Ulta and Marshall’s are coming to Rio Grande, next to Aldi in the Grande Center. Marshall’s moved from their Cape May Court House location and is already open. Ulta will be opening soon (they’re currently hiring).
Several 30-minute Tesla charging stations have been installed in the Cape May Court House Acme parking lot.
The Pretzel Shop opened in Cape May Court House in the old 7/11 location. They serve pretzels and homemade ice cream.
Kara Restaurant Group, which owns George’s Place and The Y.B., has opened Scola in Cape May Court House. This 10-table BYOB is run by longtime employee Ben Scola and offers modern cuisine, often using local ingredients.
The Kayak Fishing Store has opened on Route 47 across from Cape May Distillery. They moved from North Wildwood and specialize in custom outfitting kayaks for fishing. They also plan to offer a rental and delivery service for Cape May vacationers.
In North Cape May, Gusto Brew Co. has opened at 3860 Bayshore Road. Antojos Mexican Cravings opened two doors down from their other store, El Pueblo Taqueria, which sits at 3704 Bayshore Road. And Riptide Paddles and Pedals — a paddleboard and bike shop — has opened at 703 Seashore Road. They also offer SUP and bike rentals, and SUP lessons. (Thanks to Steve O. for the updates!)
The City of Cape May (not us) has raised parking meter rates to $2.00 per hour in certain areas.
Aldi, Acme, and CVS are available through the Instacart app in the 08204 zip code.
That’s a wrap for the 2019 edition of Who’s New. We’re sure we have missed things, so if you know of changes in Cape May that should be on this list, please let us know and we will add them. My email’s below.
Updated June 26, 2019
In the first version of this post, we said that Rhythm of the Sea was not currently taking reservations. We’ve corrected that and are sorry for the error!