Bars, restaurants, culture and events… Dan Mathers’ weekly guide to what’s going on in Cape May
The new Tisha’s, snuggled into the Washington Street Mall, is larger than expected. I was surprised when the white-trimmed, light-blue front dining room led through to another in the rear. There’s a front patio where my wife and I intended to sit until we were introduced to the back patio that sits about 30 feet off of Carpenter Street. From there you’re offered views of Congress Hall, the Pink House and a tree-covered Merry Widow. The patio was quiet and offered a dinner outdoors without the clamor of the mall. We could hear the ocean, a simple reminder of Tisha’s previous incarnation, oceanfront in the Solarium.
I asked Jennifer Negro, who owns Tisha’s with her husband Paul, how she felt about having to relocate. “I wasn’t surprised,” she said, “We’d been told for the past three years that ‘this is the year,’ but this year it really was.”
Paul’s mother, Letitia, opened the original Tisha’s in Wildwood in 1988, but according to Jen, “1992 was when Wildwood started to go downhill.” So, when the solarium became available in 1994, they kept the name and moved the restaurant to the promenade in Cape May. “Tisha’s was the obvious name,” said Jennifer, “Paul is the chef here and he never had any formal training. He just learned from his mother.”
There has been much discussion about the impending plans for Convention Hall, but there are few people whose lives have been impacted by those plans more than the Negros. “We’ve probably lost about a third of our income because of the move,” Jen said. “It’s a kick in the teeth to us because now they’re not going to knock down the Solarium… we were prematurely asked to leave.”
Despite that, and despite the delays in opening their new restaurant, the Negros are upbeat. “I love the new place we’re in,” said Jennifer. “It’s amazing. We have 47 more seats, and we can now serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The extra size in the kitchen offers us the chance to be more creative.”
But they’re not going crazy with this new-found freedom. As my wife pointed out, “There’s a lot on this menu, but it’s not too much.” We settled on the smoked salmon parfait, shrimp bruschetta, grilled Thai salmon and shrimp, and peppered shrimp and crabcake.
As I sat beneath the starless sky and sipped my coffee while stealing bites of my wife’s flourless chocolate cake, the rushing ocean could no longer be heard. It was instead replaced by chatter of passersby headed home or toward the nearest bar. An empty wine bottle and the realization that Collier’s closed in 20 minutes were my only motivation to move.