I love it when I get to say good things about local businesses, and how can you not love the story of Ugly Mug waitress Diana Lee, who returned $6,000 dropped in the Mug by a customer from Collingswood who was using the money to buy a motorcycle. Diane used her phone as a flashlight to search under the booths after the customer called up, desperately hoping he had dropped the money in the Mug. Sure enough, she found a big wad of money, all in $100 bills. And when the beyond-grateful man returned to retrieve his money, Diane refused his offer of a $100 tip. Karma is definitely with you, Diane.
I was also impressed by a recent interaction with Lace Silhouettes. My girlfriend’s sister wanted to go there to get some accoutrements for her upcoming wedding, but was coming to Cape May from the ferry and was running too late to make it before the store closed at 6pm — however, we called Lace Silhouettes just to double check when they closed, and were told by general manager Emily Hansen that they would stay open until we got there. And they did. Guess what — my girlfriend’s sister dropped $250 there in a matter of minutes. Superb customer service has its rewards.
~When a fire destroyed the home of the Nazareth, Pennsylvania-based Gregus family on January 22, the bitter temperature and pounding wind kept firefighters’ equipment — a portable pond in lieu of nearby fire hydrants — from working efficiently. The home was engulfed in flames and, while no one from the family of five was hurt, everything was lost.
Everything, that is, except for the Gregus’ two dogs and cat, which the oldest daughter, home alone at the time and later treated for smoke inhalation, retrieved from the house while it burned. From what we’ve been hearing, this kind of selfless act is typical of the family, who are now staying in a hotel.
Since the incident, we are proud to hear of, though not at all surprised by, the response from the Cape May community. Thanks to the work of our Historical Editor Ben Miller, a Nazareth resident, in getting the word out, The Blug Pig Tavern and Bella Vida restaurants have donated gift certificates, while the Grand Hotel and Summer Station have donated weekend stays. “This is about neighbors helping neighbors,” Ben says, “which is something that’s lost in a lot of other communities today. This kind of thing restores your faith in humanity.”
~The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue does nothing for me. Never has. And I’m really not just saying that to earn Brownie points. I just don’t get a kick out of girls cheesily posing in bikinis. But I do get a kick out of Cape May getting good PR, and that has been happening in the aftermath of the issue coming out.
For those who are unaware of such things, the magazine shot some of their models in Cape May last summer. No one was supposed to know about it — Sports Illustrated used local cops and their own security goons (I had a run-in with one of them who was violating my right to walk on the promenade) to help keep the public away from the models, photographers, and the 15 or so hangers-on who always attach themselves to photo shoots and get paid for it (I experienced a lot of this when I worked in magazines in New York — a typical photo shoot is a disgusting waste of money, but I digress).
In the end, it’s been a good thing for Cape May — the beaches and the town look beautiful, both in the magazine shots and in promotional videos that were released.
And here’s an interesting tidbit, courtesy of local writer Karen Fox, who tells the story of how the Swimsuit Issue began in her book The Chalfonte. The idea was born when the magazine asked fashion reporter Jule Campbell to go on a shoot to fill space in the less interesting winter issues with beautiful models. The first issue, released in 1964, featured a cover photo and a five-page layout. Campbell took the idea and ran with it, working with the biggest models of the time and eventually turning it into a publishing juggernaut. The Cape May connection? Jule may have traveled to the world’s most exotic locations in the course of her job, but every year (for 50 years!) it’s Cape May, and the Chalfonte Hotel in particular, where she and husband Ron choose to take their vacation.
~Congratulations to chef Lucas Manteca, who owns The Red Store in Cape May Point with wife Deanna Ebner. He has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in the category of Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region. There are only 19 other chefs up for the same, and only two of these are from Jersey. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the James Beard Foundation, it’s the New York-based nonprofit that promote the culinary arts — their awards are the Oscars of the food world. So, yes, it’s a huge deal. Also cool? Ben Sukle, son of Joe and Louise Sukle, who own Press and Journal, which prints Exit Zero, was also nominated in the Northeast Region for his work at Birch restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. Congratulations to both gastronomic geniuses.
~Thanks to Cape May VFW adjunct Colonel Rich Nowakowski for letting us know this great piece of news: In 2014, Cape May VFW will give a total of $11,000 in scholarship funding to high school seniors who attend the Lower Cape May Regional, Wildwood Catholic, or Cape May County Technical. The breakdown is three $3,000 scholarships and one $1,000 scholarship. Interested students should get applications from their guidance counselors, and return them there by April 28. Contact Rich with questions at 609-846-5128.
~Good luck to our new neighbors, the Cape May Artists Cooperative Gallery, who moved this month from West End Garage to the site of the former Cape May Bait and Tackle on Sunset Boulevard, across the road from the Exit Zero Store and Gallery (and world HQ). “We had a great experience at West End Garage, but a lot of us wanted to be able to teach classes or do demonstrations, and since that space didn’t allow for it, this was the next logical step,” says Diana Cutshall, one of the 19 artists who belong to the collective. “We’ve only been open a week, but the response has been wonderful.”
~I’m so excited to welcome a new addition to the Exit Zero family — the cartoon strip below. Talented artist Rosemary Dery is responsible for a charming seagull — by the name of Bird — that our readers are going to love. Follow the adventures of Bird in every issue.