High Tide

The CapeMay.com blog

Who’s New, Who’s Moved, Who’s Gone: The 2024 Edition

It’s June and we’re back with our annual roundup of changes in and around Cape May!

Let’s dive in.

Around Town

The Washington Street Mall now has a bench and potted plants at the start of the 300 block.

Accessible pathways that run parallel to the ocean have been installed on the beaches.

Kiwanis Park received a refresh over the winter! We have more pictures in our Play directory.

Sidewalks in the vicinity of Swain’s Hardware were redone last year, and there is now a beautifully landscaped path with benches in front of the historic New Cape May Hotel (which today holds shops) at 221 Jackson Street.

The promenade arches are complete and illuminate in the evenings! We asked Instagram followers what they thought. Opinions are mixed, though many who were initially opposed have warmed up to the lack of power lines, and Cape May Astro said in our comments that the arches help with light pollution.

Arches along the promenade. Photo: Cassidy Jones

The Cape May City library is moving books to its new location in the restored Franklin Street School. The library “will be closed May 27 through June 12 for its move,” says the City’s website. “The new location will open on June 13.”

Cape May City is phasing out coin-fed meters. The ParkMobile app is available city-wide, with some areas only accepting digital payments. (Please don’t get mad at us for that one; we’re just a humble travel website.)

Lafayette Street and Beach Avenue have been resurfaced! 

Congress Hall has removed the tall hedges surrounding the Blue Pig Tavern’s outdoor dining area. We received one upset email about the change: “[Congress Hall] just took the most adorable grotto in Cape May and ruined it! It’s now this open-aired patio that is adjacent to the parking lot and the sidewalk and the road in a really unpleasant way. We hate it and are so very disappointed.” We’ll keep an eye out in case the plants are allowed to re-grow! 

Dining

Maison Bleue has relocated from Mansion Street to the Hugh B&B at 653 Washington Street, in the place of the former Le Jardin restaurant. As of posting, we are unaware of future plans for 311 Mansion Street.

On the Washington Street Mall, Fins has been purchased by The Ugly Mug, making it part of a restaurant family that also includes Delaney’s Irish Pub and the Cape May Fish Market.

King’s Ice Cream Parlor at 401 Lafayette was still under construction during last year’s roundup. It is completed and open!

When we walked past the Beach Theatre complex a month ago, Cafe Nutella had a sign in the window that the space was up for lease, but there has been a change since then! Stockton Place Beachfront Eatery is renovating the restaurant in soothing sea greens and whites, and documenting it on their Instagram. We chatted with owner Meghan Protasi, who is optimistic they can open in early July. They’ll serve breakfast and lunch, takeout, and hope to offer outdoor seating.

Blueberry and Stockton Place Eatery. Photo: Michelle Giorla

To their left, a sign above the door reads Blueberry, but peek inside and you’ll see familiar menus. Cafe Nutella has rebranded, we were told by owner Ahmed Abdelkader. They’re still offering the same crepes and smoothies. 

On the Washington Street Mall, the coffee and ice cream counter at Dellas (more about them in Shopping) is now called The Knot and has a nautical theme! Right now, you can stop in for a latte or a cone, but there are more updates in the works. Coming later this year: monster milkshakes. 

The Knot coffee and ice cream shop at Dellas

We missed this one last year: Tucked alongside Convention Hall is the adorable Buoy Coffee Shop! You’ll also find a Free Little Library so you can find something to read while you sip. Buoy Coffee opened in 2022.

Also up on the promenade is Foo Bao Asian Sliders, which has moved across the street from its former location in the Beach Theater complex to 722 Beach Avenue, Unit 3. They reopened last July. Thrilled they are back! We covered them when they opened in 2019.

Foo Bao’s promenade location next to Ainsley Rose

In the Akroteria at 307 Beach Avenue, we found Hidden Gem Poke Bowls. They announced their new location 115 weeks ago, according to Instagram, but they just hit our radar. We talked with owner Tyler Hoffman, who was born and raised in Cape May but lived in Hawai’i for a decade! He has brought poke bowls, a traditional Hawaiian dish, to the East Coast. Tyler’s favorite is the Shotuo Ahi Tuna with avocado, pickle, ginger, cucumber, and sesame seeds. This is Hidden Gem’s third season in the Akroteria. Sorry we missed you and a belated welcome!

At the base of the Hotel Macomber, we spotted Hip Whip by Bagel Time, which serves acai bowls and smoothies. They’ve been in the spot since 2020 according to Instagram, but we have routinely missed it when we’ve walked past. Apologies, Bagel Time! We love the pineapple logo, which was created by local artist David Macomber. 

And Bagel Time looks to have a shiny new sign! (New to us, at least.)

Matt Morey is the new chef at The Cricket Club.

Over at the Marquis de Lafayette, Barefoot Bar now serves breakfast! They hosted their first in April.

The Marquis de Lafayette Hotel

In West Cape May, Pamela Hubert confirmed with us via email that she has sold the Black Duck on Sunset in September 2023. On May 17, Carl Messick, executive chef and owner of Grana BYOB, said on Facebook that the Black Duck is being refreshed by the new owners and will be available to lease. 

Exit Zero is no longer involved in Ferry Park (more about that below), but the Exit Zero Filling Station in West Cape May isn’t going anywhere! “We will just be glad to focus on that little engine that could, as opposed to the big engine that definitely couldn’t,” Jack Wright told us by email. “We have introduced a super-cute 1978 VW bus that Mike DeMusz retrofitted. It sits in the center of our outdoor dining area and will be offering all sorts of treats this summer.” Additionally, on rainy days, they’ll also be screening classic movies on a ten-foot indoor screen.

The Harbor View at 954 Ocean Drive has been sold to Zest Restaurant Group (owners of Taco Caballito) and will be rebranded as Port. Emily Repici, Zest’s Director of Marketing, told us via email: “We will feature fresh seafood, with some Asian fusion dishes, and the beloved sushi will be returning.” As of posting, the menu was still listed as “coming soon” on their website, but they teased a smash burger on Instagram.

Fish House under construction in May 2024. The SS Atlantus is visible in the water. Photo: Michelle Giorla

Zest Restaurant Group has also leased the restaurant at Sunset Beach and will operate it this summer as Fish House. “We will be highlighting craft sandwiches on the menu along with seafood and delicious ice cream,” Repici said. “It’s going to be a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine as the sun sets.” Yes, you read that correctly. Fish House will have a liquor license! Look for it to open this summer. 

Update: The Chalfonte has a new chef! “Chef Matt Crist formerly of Black Duck, Ebbit Room and most recently Block Party has joined us in the Chalfonte kitchen with Chef John Siuta,” Dillon Mullock told us via email. “Many of the Block Party favorites will be available in the King Edward Bar.” The Block Party is no longer in the Akroteria.

Update: Art Block in Liberty Way is now Art Block Cafe, combining their existing art studio with a coffee shop. The menu offers boba, coffee drinks, iced tea, and snacks.

Update: Dockside Dave’s Seafood Market has taken over the space at 458 West Perry Street. It was previously Cappelleti and Sons Italian Deli.

Accommodations

La Mer took the winter to refresh and has reopened its hotel and on-site restaurant, The Pier House, for the season. According to the press release, “One of the most anticipated features is the addition of a stunningly transformed terrace seating area, boasting atrium doors that can be opened to invite the fresh breezes of summer inside.”

The Grand Hotel has renovated its ballroom and an area called the Promenade located near the pool.

On Jackson Street, the Tides Condominiums has completed a project to shore up its columns. 

Shopping

Little Cash and Clive

Let’s start on the Washington Street Mall. On the 300 block, JAMES is now Little Cash & Clive, a children’s boutique.  

Cape May’d has opened on the 400 block between Coffee Tyme and Great White Shark, at 412 Washington Street. The surf-inspired clothing boutique has a minimalist look with black slat walls, and two gorgeous fitting rooms with custom wallpaper and lighting. Owner Steven said that the brand is gender neutral, so everyone can feel free to shop! 

Inside the two-story City Centre Mall, we braved heights and found Shop Local on the second floor. This store showcases works by local artists and opened in April 2022. Sorry that we’ve missed you before! 

Onto the 500 block! Dellas 5 & 10 has been rebranded as Cape May Trading Post at Dellas. It’s now part of LSL Brands, which owns brands like the Original Fudge Kitchen, Cotton Company, and Lace Silhouettes. We stopped in on the fourth day of the Trading Post’s reopening! The store is still packed with merchandise, but the lower tables make for a more open feel. We stopped in for pictures and talked with an employee who is from Cape May and spoke glowingly about the changes, especially the building’s preservation. Look for a lot more from them as the season continues! They did a turnover in just three weeks to be open for the season. 

No changes spotted down Liberty Way, but Thread & Root has a bubble machine, and it’s delightful.

BEACHLOVE at 518 Washington Street is out, making way for Sunshine Daydream, a beachy clothing boutique run by two sisters, Amy Jones and Erin Galante. The Cape May store was still in the process of opening when we stopped by for a photo. Their first location is in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. 

In Carpenter’s Square Mall, the contemporary fine art gallery Jawbone has replaced Payton Jewelry, which had moved into the space last year. Jawbone’s website states, “Our aim is to spotlight a new wave of dynamic artists who are shaping today’s creative landscape, bringing their visions to life with passion and innovation.” The day we walked past, the gallery was exhibiting pieces by Victor Grasso; Adam Wallacavage will have an exhibit this summer.

At the intersection of Jackson and Perry Streets, Shore Soaps has opened Pour Candle Bar & Chandlery. According to their website, this is “a pour-your-own soy candle experience and candle shop.” Workshops will be available by reservation or walk-in (as space allows, we imagine).

If you are a fan of Tea by the Sea, don’t worry! We popped in to make sure they were still there. Over the winter, they moved the tea further back into the building. Enter from the first door on Perry Street (if coming from town) and you’ll find the tea selection! 

Other Businesses

On the publishing front, Exit Zero has something new in the works.  “I am working on a gigantic publishing project!” Jack Write told us via email. “A 624-page, oversized coffee table book which will document the early years of Exit Zero since it’s our 21st anniversary this year. It will come out this fall. Been working on it for a long time.”

On our walk around town, we spotted Cape May Psychic at 7 Gurney Street. The window signs advertise tarot cards and psychic readings. Their website is only a parked page and we can’t locate social media, but their domain name was registered in May 2023.

In West Cape May at 400 Stevens Street, there is a new red barn at Rea’s Farm. We stopped in for pictures and asked about plans for the barn. Rea’s declined to comment, but on Instagram, we saw mention of a new Friday Night Farmers Market that Rea’s will host through September 6th. 

Outside of Cape May

Lots to talk about in Rio Grande. Cape Square Entertainment has opened in place of the old Frank Theater, at 3809 Route 9 South! The complex contains sixteen bowling alleys, an arcade, two restaurants, and a movie theater. We covered it in this blog post

Old Navy is coming to Rio Grande! We spotted job postings for the General Manager and Assistant GM positions on Old Navy’s LinkedIn while double checking facts for this post. Last week, we found the listing on Gap Inc’s official website. According to Watch the Tram Car, which first announced this back in February, the store is moving into the old Bed Bath & Beyond location in the Grande Center. While I was writing this article, I popped over to Aldi and happened to catch a crew working on the storefront. (We’ll keep an eye on it!)

Construction happening at the former Bed Bath & Beyond in Rio Grande

We have two changes in the ShopRite plaza at 1500 NJ-47. Mangia BYOB Italian restaurant opened last winter. It offers both takeout and sit-down service. I had dinner there over the winter and have never had a friendlier server. The plaza is also now home to Burlington Coat Factory, which took over the former Peebles location. 

Across the street, last fall the former Tokyo Restaurant at 1711 Route 47 became the home to Sandalwood Indian Kitchen. A couple of us stopped in for dinner a few weeks after they opened and it was delicious! We loved the rose Lassi, a yogurt-based drink. (If you pull up their website, be aware that the photos are stock and not what the restaurant looks like. Look at their Facebook page for real pictures.)

Here’s one we missed in the past: In Villas, The Olive Branch restaurant replaced Back Bay Bistro back in May 2020. And last April, the same owners opened Grande Cafe in Rio Grande in the former Avalon Bagel location, 3167 Route 9 south. 

In North Cape May, Exit Zero is no longer involved in Ferry Park. Farewell to the Lookout and Cafe 64. Our sister Cape May Magazine reported that the Delaware Bay and River Authority, which oversees the ferry terminal, has signed a ten-year agreement with Aramark, a company that handles large-capacity concessions in stadiums and airports. Ferry Park’s website is down and the domain appears to have been picked up by a link farm. 

Also in North Cape May: Zest Restaurant Group is working on The Goat House, a project adjacent to LeGates farm. We haven’t seen official information about this yet; the Zest website says “coming soon.” Rita’s Water Ice is going into the North Cape May Shopping Center, and the Bayshore plaza is now home to the bagel shop.  

We missed this one in 2022: Up in Cape May Court House, Julio’s Mexican Street Food opened on Route 9 next to Domino’s Pizza. The coconut shrimp tacos are amazing. 

Over in the Wildwoods, Madison Resorts bought the former Royal Hawaiian and are reopening it as Madison Resort Wildwood Crest

There has been no movement on the Hampton Inn project in Cape May Court House. 

Anniversaries

  • Exit Zero turns 21!
  • Bath Time is celebrating 30 years
  • Whale’s Tale is celebrating 50 years
  • The Kiwanis Club of Cape May is celebrating its 100th anniversary 

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the post! As always, we’re not all knowing. We report on what we know and what we can confirm, but there are bound to be other changes that haven’t reached us yet. Email tips and sources to whosnew@capemay.com

Photos were taken by the author, with additional photos by Michelle Giorla and Cassidy Jones, who also contributed to the research for this year’s roundup. Thanks to Kate Chadwick, Kathleen Hayes, and Bernie Haas for additional research for this piece.