I rhapsodized in the last issue about the new generation of entrepreneurs that give me great optimism about the future of Cool Cape May. Well, I’m not done talking about them. Over the weekend we photographed and interviewed a bunch of them for a great feature that will run in our first color issue of the year (out on April 23) and I took the opportunity to enjoy some of the goodies being produced by these folks. In other words, I’m not just talking the talk — I’m walking the walk. On Friday night, me and the moll had dinner at Louisa’s on Jackson Street, which was opening night under new owner Will Riccio. Have to say, the food tasted just as good as it did under the previous owners, Cape May pioneers Louisa Hull and Doug Dietsch, while the decor got a fresh and tasteful revamp. A total home run. Great job, Will!
On Saturday afternoon, I popped into Bliss, on Carpenter’s Lane, where photographer Frank Weiss and I enjoyed an Acai Bowl made by the ice cream shop’s new owner Deena DiBacco, who will be a breath of fresh air in Cape May. Stop in and you’ll see what I mean — she’s adorable and determined to make good, healthy, tasty treats.
So that was lunch. For dinner, I rode my bike to Empanada Mama’s on Park Boulevard in West Cape May, where I picked up a to-go box of empanadas from owner Brooke Dodds, who made her name and reputation at various local festivals before opening her storefront earlier this year. Brooke will be another wonderful addition to the Cape May business community — her smile and sunny attitude are infectious, and her empanadas are great. There are great veggie choices (been 15 months since I ate meat), and don’t miss the banana and chocolate for dessert.
So there you have it, folks. A whole weekend of fine eating at establishments owned and operated by people in their 20s and 30s. What’s not to love about that?
~Staying with the restaurant theme, a Cape May icon is shortly going to be under new ownership. Bruce Axelsson, long-time owner of Mayer’s Tavern, that old harbor mainstay, has found a buyer, but won’t say anything until the deal is done. The other night I met a Cape May fellow at the bar of Fred’s Tavern in Stone Harbor (thought I’d get out of town for the night and the first people I see are Cape Mayans…) who said he’d heard that Mayer’s had been bought by Paul and Jennifer Negro, who already have Tisha’s and 5 West. But thanks to the wonders of technology, I quickly discovered that wasn’t true — while eating a fish sandwich (could have used some sauce), I texted Jennifer Negro, who said she and Paul had shown some interest in the place but that they definitely hadn’t bought it. “Welcome to Cape May County rumors,” wrote Jennifer. Since then, I’ve heard that one of the island’s best-known restaurant operators is going to be taking over, but I’ll keep shtum until I get it confirmed. Whatever happens, I bet it’ll get interesting down there.
~Everyone called him Clarkie. Only a few knew his real name — John “Clark” Morris. He could be found at the old Lemon Tree restaurant, the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club or the Captain’s Cove restaurant, sitting around with the guys telling fish tales. His fishing boat, Screaming Mimi, named after his wife of 50 years, was a familiar sight in the waters of Cape May and he took great pride in talking about his five children (Mari, Lorraine, Madeleine, Clark and Jane), eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He had many business ventures which bore his name, but none had more popularity than the famous 50-cent hot dogs found at Clark’s Dogs on Jackson Street, now the site of HotDog Tommy’s. His life was fully lived and he will be missed.
BIRD IS THE WORD, by Rosemary Dery