It’s All Change!
Call it the hip quotient or the cool factor… whatever it is, Cape May and West Cape May just got a lot more of it.
As the tourist season begins, some new businesses are starting their first summer here, while others have made changes in location or offerings. West Cape May in the vicinity of West Perry Street and Sunset Boulevard from Park Boulevard to Broadway and south on Sunset has become a sort of a new food district.
Near the CVS corner, there are plenty of changes and additions to the business line-up.
Many mourned the passing of Higher Grounds Café on West Perry Street following Hurricane Sandy and a fire. A new eatery called Emilia’s Garden opened last week in the same spot. Like Higher Grounds, it will offer coffee and an emphasis on breakfast and brunch.
New owner is Thomas Carpenito, while Penelope Cake will sell handmade gifts and hold arts and crafts workshops from a garden shed on the premises. John O’Hara, culinary manager of Emilia’s and a former executive chef at Juan Pablo’s in Wildwood, said he is also planning to serve light dinners. He promises at least two varieties of frittatas — sort of a cross between an omelet and a quiche.
Directly across the street is a building that once sold seashore chic decorations. The words “general store” appeared on the front of building when paint was removed. It will not resume that use but become an Italian deli. Owner Dan Cappelletti will put his name on the new business, “Cappelletti’s Olde World Italian Deli.” (We do, though officially stand against the use of “olde” and “shoppe”, no matter the circumstances.)
Dan also owns Cappy’s in Cape May, next to the Wawa and Cappelletti’s on the boardwalk.Di Bruno meats and cheeses from Philadelphia will be featured and Dan is working towards a July 4 opening. The fixings of a great beach picnic could start here.
On Park Boulevard, Seaside Cheese moves to a larger location closer to the CVS intersection June 19, says owner Steve White. The cheese folks are taking over the Cape May Linen location while that textile landmark moves down the street a block or so to 600 Park Boulevard, next to Cape Fitness.
Steve promises more dining space, fresh produce and more gourmet items available.
Meanwhile, Cape May Linen spends its last day in the current location on Memorial Day Monday May 27 and opens in the new location June 1.
Drive towards Cape May Point on Sunset and stop at the Cape May Honey Farm and its new neighbor People People. No that’s not a mistake, it’s People People, maybe like Barbra Streisand’s “People Who Need People.” If you see Hidden Valley horse aficionado Nancy Hall’s truck in the parking lot, you’re in the right spot. She is helping her friend, Jen Daily, the shop’s owner.
The boutique of fine dresses and beachwear was formerly located on Broadway in the tiny shop that once housed Bob Jackson’s surf fishing empire. Cape May Bait and Tackle is now in that location.
Outside People People, an old sign on the building is peeking through the paint with the word Halbruner’s. Nancy said the building housed a Ford dealership many years ago.
Next door at Cape May Honey Farm, Doug and Andi Marandino are buzzing (we had to) with enthusiasm for a great summer of sweetening the lives of their customers. The store will be open seven days a week beginning in June. Additional varieties of honey have been added and even furniture polish and leather care products containing bee’s wax, said Andi. Warm weather has made local bees active not to mention all the available pollen this season.
Out on Stevens Street is a mighty dose of cool, Willow Creek Winery, ready for its first summer. The tasting room suggests Italy or maybe Sonoma Valley, California. All that’s missing is a mountain.
The winery is open seven days a week for tastings and tours of the 50-acre farm. A Wine Toast and a Pig Roast will be held July 4 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm to celebrate the farm’s independence, said Kevin Celli, farm director. A blues band will be on hand along with red and white wines. It sounds downright patriotic.
Before you leave West Cape May, slow down and enjoy barbecued meat that’s been smoked for 12 to 14 hours at Beachside Smokehouse, 416 S. Broadway, the former Daniel’s and Moonfish Grille location. Opening Memorial Day weekend, the new restaurant features a menu combining sweet, tangy barbecue with fresh seafood and local produce.
If you’re walking the mall, barbecue is available at the Cape May Smokehouse, open at the former Lemon Tree location. All their meats are slow smoked using Oak and Apple wood in custom built smokers. They have chicken, pork, ribs, turkey breast, sausage and even fried catfish. Get ’er done! Sounds like the south will rise again.
In the heart of Cape May, Ella Rae Summer Boutique has moved from Beach Avenue to Washington Commons, next to the Acme parking lot. Co-owner Nicole Garcia said she has wanted the store to be located near the mall since day one.
“People are purposely shopping on the Washington Street Mall,” said Nicole. The new location is at least 25 percent larger than the previous spot. It’s the “boutique that makes you chic,” according to Nicole. Moving into the old Ella Rae spot is the, ahem, new Exit Zero Store! If you don’t have an Exit Zero hat, you may not know which exit to take to Cape May and you could wander aimlessly through Rio Grande looking for a kite or a box of fudge. And wouldn’t that be sad?
A new store in-the-works is Galvanic at 514 Washington Street Mall, showcasing men’s clothing in a dramatic atmosphere purposed to be cool and electrifying and unlike anything seen in this area. Owner Ryan Platzer said he hopes to open in mid-June. The shop formerly housed Gifts Galore for those keeping score at home.
New last year but redecorated this year is Pano, a sit-down dining establishment upstairs in the City Center Mall, offering a nice view of the mall. Folks are talking about the great salads. Make sure you save room for dessert. It’s brought to you by the same family who own George’s Place and Y.B. on Beach Avenue.
Also along Beach Avenue, Congress Hall has a new Veranda Juice Bar featuring fresh juices made from fruits and vegetables from Beach Plum Farm. Guided farm tours are available Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30am. The farm is located on Stevens Street in West Cape May. A Family Harvest Day takes place at Beach Plum Farm every Thursday from 7-10am.
It’s not the same old thing this summer. Eat somewhere where you haven’t eaten before and for heaven’s sake, get some new clothes.
New Camp In Town
WHEN 31-year-old David Matagiese was a child growing up in Cape May, his mother kicked him out of the house until lunch, and then kicked him out again until dinner, and rightfully so. “I loved it,” he told us. “I biked to the marsh or the woods and explored them with friends. Kids have lost that get-outside-and-build-a-fort mentality. It’s too difficult to get them unplugged and away from the iPhone or iPad or computer long enough.”
So, in an attempt to make connecting with the environment — and being active — more appealing than a session of Grand Theft Auto V (which is the most obscene, disturbing video game we’ve ever encountered, but we digress), David has founded EcoVentures Adventure Camps, launching this June.
The camp will be led by a staff of trained naturalists, including David himself, a marine biologist who graduated from Lower Township High School, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Nova Southeastern Oceanographic Center/Guy Harvey Research Institute before running domestic and international nature programs for 40,000 kids a year through the International Game Fish Association in Florida, a position he held until moving back to Cape May last fall.
“I remember a girl named MaryAnn,” David said. “She’d always had this notion in her head that horseshoe crabs are killers. But the first time she got her hands on one, you could see it in her face; her opinion had switched in a matter of 30 seconds. The crabs had gone from man-eating to friendly, and you could see the wheels turning in her head.”
The Cape May program — geared for boys and girls between the ages of six and 13, though “no one will be checking ID” — will have the same goal: to un-detach kids. “I want them to think, ‘If I throw this water bottle on the ground, it’s going to affect me personally,’” David said. “These are going to be the voters, consumers, and policy makers one day.”
To facilitate this, each day’s camp will have a theme, one which incorporates a physical component — think bodyboarding, snorkeling, skimboarding, and grab bag games like clam-pitching. “I have always enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned through formal education by teaching it to others in an informal education center,” David said.
Case in point: the campers might learn about sharks while creating shark tooth necklaces. Or they might learn about nature on a walk to collect pieces for the making of reclaimed surfer bracelets. Or on Fridays, when the group will launch from the Miss Cape May for a fishing adventure, kids won’t just cast lines, they’ll discover the different adaptations of the animals they’re bringing in. “Nothing will get stale,” David said. “Every day will be something new.”
Which means every day will also bring a new opportunity for grown-ups to relax, sans the little ones. “Hey,” David said. “Parents need vacation time, too.”
The EcoVentures home base is the Grand Hotel in Cape May, with an additional location at 1901 New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood. Participants can register for the day ($70 for one; $195 for three), the week ($295), or the season (see EcoVenturesUS.com for more pricing info). Lunch is included. Camp runs from 10am to 4pm Mondays through Thursdays, and 7:30am-12:30pm for fishing trips on Fridays. EcoVentures will also provide classroom out-reach sessions off-season. See EcoVenturesUS.com for a list of frequently asked questions, and other good info!)
SPF: Your New BFF
THE bad news? The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that, by 2015, one in 50 Americans will develop melanoma over the course of their lifetime. The good news? Such scary stats are causing people to wise up about their sun protection… true, even for the bronzed beach bunnies who flock to America’s Original Seaside Resort every year.
“The awareness level is higher than we’ve ever seen it,” says Danny DeCamillo, owner of Summer Sun Surf Shop on the Washington Street Mall. “I’m selling 20 to 25 times more sunscreen than I was six or seven years ago.”
Still, the misconceptions about sun protection abound… a fact that hasn’t been helped by the deceptive labeling sunscreen manufacturers have gotten away with until recently. This year will mark the first summer season such companies will be accountable to the Food and Drug Administration for their labeling. Forget about ever seeing “waterproof” on another bottle again… turns out, there’s no such thing.
What else do you need to know about your screen? We called Stephen David Hess, MD, PhD, FAAD — a Vineland and Egg-Harbor-based board-certified dermatologist, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and himself a veteran of Jersey shore vacationing — to find out.
1. You need more. “People are only using half the amount they should be,” Stephen said. “That’s half the amount that was used during testing to determine SPF.” Meaning? Use half, and you’re only getting half the sun-protection factor… your 15 just became a 7.5. So what’s the right amount? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least a shot-glass size amount to cover the exposed areas of the (fully-clothed) body.
2. People often peddle 15 as the magic SPF number — go below it, and you might as well be lathering yourself with shampoo. “I don’t agree with that,” Stephen said. “Any sunscreen is better than none. But I wouldn’t recommend going below 15, or 30 for any beach activity.” As for going above? “It’s true that, if sunscreen is applied correctly, there might not be much benefit to going higher,” Stephen said. But, then again, people rarely use the stuff correctly. (See number 1). The good news? People seem to be heeding this advice. “We have SPF15 in stock, but most customers have started opting for 30 or 45,” says Roz Johnson, General Manager of Tommy’s Folly for the last six years. In season, she has to order nine to 12 bottles of each every two weeks.
3. Reapply every two hours, more if you’re sweating or in the water. Period. An SPF100 will wash off just as quickly as an SPF8.
4. Be careful with your beer. “Spilling lime juice on your skin can lead to a severe sunburn,” Stephen said. “We see this a lot with people are drinking Corona in the summer.” (And for those of you who use the old lemon-juice-to-lighten-the-hair trick… lemon juice isn’t as bad, but you still want to wash it off your skin, asap!)
4. Mind the marine life. “It’s true that in the last few years, concern has been raised about the danger chemicals in sunscreen pose to the environment after they wash off in the water,” Stephen said. It is troubling, especially when you consider that 20,000 tons of the stuff can be found in our waters every year, according to a 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Look for “biodegradable” the next time you shop.
5. While UVB rays cause sunburn, it’s UVA rays that might be the greatest cancer-causing culprit. “They can come through your car window,” Stephen said. “And because you’re not burning, you may not even realize it.” The solution? Sunscreens that tout a UPF — or ultraviolet protection factor — are truly broad-spectrum. Wear it even on cloudy days… dangerous rays are still reaching your skin.
6. Enjoy your summer. “I’m not going to tell you not to go to the beach,” Stephen said. “I still go; I just make sure to bring my sunscreen, as well as my sunglasses and my hat, because I know that sunscreen isn’t perfect. A small amount of sun is good for the soul, it’s true. People just need to be reasonable about it. My philosophy is everything in moderation.”
Everything… except sunscreen, that is. Layer that stuff on good, Cape May.