Every year, it seems we blink and June is looming, dangling its first-of-the-month in front of us. Time to write Who’s New! People on Facebook will start asking for it! We escaped from behind the computer for a walk through town, cameras in hand, and combed through our notes from the past year.
Here is what we know so far about recent changes in Cape May.
If you follow our blog, or if you’ve been to Cape May lately, you might know about the lighted arches being installed along the promenade—a throwback to Cape May at the turn of the last century. The arches are under construction, but you can walk under them for a sense of the ambiance. We understand that at least twelve will be installed along the beachfront.
The new wooden decks we spotted earlier in the year near the beach entrances have vertical blue showers installed.
Over in Washington Commons (the shopping area next to Acme, across from the Washington Street Mall), the comfort station received a facelift!
Lots of changes in dining! We’re starting on Decatur Street, where last October, the Cricket Club officially opened in the old Merion Inn. This restaurant and bar are owned by the Kulkowitz family of the Carroll Villa Hotel and Mad Batter. You might know Chef Jon Davies from Cape May Magazine (and our Persnickety Chef archives).
In February 2022, the Menz family sold the Inn of Cape May and Aleathea’s Restaurant to the DeMutis Group. Unforeseen delays kept them from reopening until later last year, but Ocean 7 is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And great news for people looking for a coffee spot! The Porch & Coffee Bar, open from 7am to 2pm, offers a selection of hot and cold beverages, and grab-and-go breakfast options. (Fingers crossed they’ll add hot chocolate to the menu.)
Iccara Italian Restaurant moved from 311 Mansion Street to Washington Commons (315 Ocean Street), and is now open next to George’s Place. We attended the ribbon cutting ceremony last month. The space was previously occupied by Asian Legends, and before that Cape Orient. The interior transformation is gorgeous! We were treated to dinner and can recommend the lobster pasta and creme brulee.
Maison Bleue, a French bistro and sister to Le Jardin at the Hugh B&B, opened in Iccara’s former location at 311 Mansion Street. They describe themselves as “The little French bistro you always wished was just around the corner.” The interior is bold: dark walls with horizontal white stripes above the chair rail, and pops of cobalt blue. Maison Bleue is BYOB, and conveniently located next to Collier’s Liquor Store.
After sharing space seasonally with La Dona Mexican Restaurant for a number of years, Chef Andrea Covino has opened Andrea Trattoria at 412 Bank Street.
Around the corner, Elaine’s Restaurant has expanded their outdoor bar and dining areas with a large deck, adding space for entertaining nightly.
Down the street, Kings at 401 Lafayette (the former All Irish Imports) is still under construction, with plans to become an ice cream parlor. The building is owned by Mickey Chew of Big Wave Burritos.
Wandering up Decatur Street, FINS Restaurant has added a second bar on their elevated porch area.
Up on Beach Avenue, the Rusty Nail has been spruced up for the season!
Jumping over to South Jersey Marina, Kara Restaurant Group (think George’s Place) has opened Brine BYOB, replacing Salt Water Cafe. The brunch menu offers twists on classic options like Eggs Benedict (now with pork belly and shrimp on a biscuit), French toast (made with challah bread and a hazelnut chocolate ganache), and pancakes (served taco style with fried chicken). The dinner menu blends in Greek cuisine, and we spotted Japanese inspiration on both, including a yuzu vinaigrette, miso cream, and karaage-style fish and chips.
The coffee shop Golden Stop has moved into 120 Park Boulevard in West Cape May. In addition to your standard lineup of hot beverages and pastries, Golden Stop offers breakfast sandwiches and waffles.
This one just missed last year’s round-up! Nikki’s Café + Juicery opened at 600 Park Boulevard in West Cape May.
Another addition we missed in 2022: Kohr Bros. opened a new location on the promenade at 722 Beach Avenue. Thank you to Sandra for the tip!
And there are new chefs at Sea Salt and Provence.
Time for shop updates. Let’s start on the 500 block of the Washington Street Mall with the changes down Liberty Way. The Little Fish kids’ boutique has closed, and in its place is Thread & Root Clothing Co, a women’s clothing store. Cape May is their second location; their first is at 701 Rt 9 South in Cape May Court House.
Next door, where the Horoscope Shop used to be, is the new Grace Oliver, which sells handcrafted jewelry and accessories. Across from them is now Tuxedo Pink, a boutique for women and babies.
Across the block and down Draper Way, Vagabond has replaced Streets of Cape May. Vagabond promises sustainable, eco-friendly clothing that is ethically made—much of it in the United States.
We didn’t spot changes on the 400 block, but on the 300 block, say hello to Cash & Clive’s new store James, which sells men’s apparel and accessories.
Crossing the mall and slipping between Bath Time and Whale’s Tale, let’s detour to Carpenters Square Mall, where you’ll find the new Payton Jewelry, which was a day out from opening when we stopped by. They’ve moved into the former SOMA Gallery. This established brand has locations in Doylestown, PA and Ocean City, NJ. Their jewelry is handcrafted in Doylestown, and their small-batch apothecary line was born at their Ocean City location.
Across the hallway is zero-waste store Good Deeds Market. (“If only we had a local zero waste shop!” I’d lamented not twenty-four hours earlier, in desperate need of a new dish brush. Miraculously, Good Deeds opened that same day.) If your aim is to use less single-use plastic or avoid packaging altogether, this store is worth a visit. They have solutions to replace common single-use household items, from cleaning supplies to personal care. (They’re looking into replacement heads for the dish brush.)
Next door to Good Deeds Market is Cape May Macarons, a shop we’ve excitedly waited to open since we found them on Instagram. You might have seen their wares at street fairs—handmade, candy-colored French macarons in flavors like Birthday Cake and Pistachio.
Neighboring shop Cape May Dips, Sticks, and Gifts was closed the day we were there, but their sign said they offer locally made butters, jams, salsas, and specialty items like flavor-infused EVOO and balsamic vinegar, plus nuts, crackers, and snacks!
Up on the beachfront, AUGZZ opened last summer at 501 Beach Avenue. According to their instagram, the shop offers recycled apparel, accessories, and jewelry.
These next two shops have been in place since 2021, but we don’t think we’ve ever photographed them for this roundup. At Beach and Jackson, the corner shop is called The Bungalow and carries clothing and accessories for men, women, and kids. Around the corner on Beach Avenue is Victory at Sea, which calls itself a coastal lifestyle brand. Inside, we spotted sunglasses, beach towels, hats, accessories, and footwear.
The clothing boutique Latitude has closed all of their locations.
Next up, accommodations! In last year’s roundup, we told you that the Inn of Cape May at 7 Ocean Street had sold in early 2022. The hotel has undergone renovations and has reopened under the same name!
The Capri at 1033 Beach Avenue is now part of the Icona family and has been rebranded as Mahalo, a family friendly hotel with a Hawaiian theme. We stopped in for some in-progress pictures.
Down the street at 205 Beach Avenue, the Beach Shack has a fresh look going into the season! Glass panels have replaced the metal railings along the hotel’s outdoor walkways. Pale gray siding brightens up the exterior, and we spotted wood lounge chairs around the new pool deck.
The DeMutis group sold the Madison Avenue Beach Club to La Mer. It’s now The Beach Club on Madison Avenue, and is still a pet-friendly hotel.
Antoinette’s Apartments and Suites is now a private home.
Elsewhere in Cape May County…
We’re almost done, but there are a few things in the county we thought you’d like to know about.
St. Mary-by-the-Sea in Cape May Point, built as the Shoreham Hotel in 1889, was saved from demolition by the Mullock family. You might know them from the Chalfonte and Harriet Tubman Museum. The former hotel is being transformed into the Cape May Point Science Center, and currently hosts stargazing events and concerts. Their ticketed grand opening is scheduled for June 2nd.
North of the bridge at 810 Seashore Road is the new Seashore Flower Farm, a family-run business specializing in locally grown, fresh flowers. They also grow their own cabbage and produce Cape May Kimchi, which is available at their farm and at Nikki’s Cafe. (Thank you to Hedy Flanders for the tip!)
In North Cape May, Ferry Park’s restaurant trio the Lookout, Cafe 64, and Exit Zero Ferry Station are open for the season! We reviewed the Lookout in the Early Summer issue of Cape May Magazine. Ferry Park offers year-round shopping, dining, and entertainment.
At 91 Beach Drive in North Cape May, Harpoons on the Bay has opened a bayfront raw bar “serving fresh oysters, clams, shrimp, and a wide variety of raw bar favorites,” they told us by email. “Also a curated wine, beer, and cocktail list to complement the menu.”
A few miles north in Rio Grande, Jester’s Dive Bar has replaced the Rio Station—a longtime staple on Route 9. Rio Station enjoyed its last summer in 2022 when it joined the Surfing Pig and Swine Bar restaurant family. Over the winter, they opened up the wall dividing the bar and restaurant, and created a more private outdoor dining area by adding some potted hedges to block the parking lot.
The Kara Restaurant Group (KRG) has opened George’s West in Rio Grande at 1050 Route 47, about a minute north of the intersection with Railroad Avenue. Fans of the Cape May location will recognize the signature pistachio wall color, black and white oversized photography, and the menu. Unlike their original beachfront location in Cape May, George’s West has on-site parking, is a bit more spacious inside, and accepts credit cards.
In Cape May Court House, KRG is also behind Petunia, an Italian restaurant at 3 Mechanic Street.
Construction on a Hampton Inn near Cape May Court House has been delayed until summer 2024, if not later.
We made it to the end of the post! As always, there are guaranteed to be updates we haven’t learned about yet. Email tips and sources to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can verify a tip, we’ll update this post (or save the information for next year’s roundup).
Thank you so much for your enthusiasm about this post every year! We love bringing it to you.
Photos were taken by Jessica Leeburg, Michelle GIorla, Mandy McNulty, and Bernie Haas