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Monday, June 17, 2024

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Openings, Ongoing Work, Closings — A Review of the Past Year

John McAdorey/Shutterstock.com
A lot has changed on the peninsula since last Memorial Day. Here are the highlights.

By Collin Hall

The Herald looked at some of the most notable new businesses, construction projects and business closures that have swept the Cape since last Memorial Day. By all objective measures, we’re still in the spring season — but Memorial Day is the start of the summer tourism season, calendar be damned.

This rundown is organized by town, with each notable change in bold. For those not included, email Collin Hall at chall@cmcherald.com.

Mainland

Starting on the mainland, much fuss was made in Spout Off about the expansion of on-site parking at the zoo, at the expense of 13 acres of trees; the parking project is expected to be completed by June 2025, and officials said it is necessary to meet intense summer demand for parking. Earlier this month, the zoo welcomed a new zebra foal; there was a new female Watusi calf last fall.

Leaving the zoo and heading toward Rio Grande, roughly 3 miles of Route 47 were repaved thanks to federal infrastructure funds. Also in Rio Grande is a new movie theater and entertainment complex that opened in fall 2023, Cape Square Entertainment, in the place occupied by the long-closed Frank Theater.

Over in Villas, many bus stops received bright coats of paint, including a hot-pink bus stop by ACE Hardware on Bayshore Road.

Nearby in Del Haven, the end of Millman Road has long been a hot spot for sunset gazing because of its wide view of the bay. The county must have taken note; a small, county-funded park, Norbury’s Landing, opened there this past year. It has new benches, parking spaces, binoculars, and amenities that make the spot feel like a proper destination.

In Marmora, a new seafood market, Captain Obadiah’s Seafood Market, opened its doors in mid-May 2024. The casual seafood spot, with picnic tables overlooking the marsh, also has fresh fish for sale.

The grand opening of Captain Obadiah’s Seafood Market on Saturday, May 18.

In Ocean View, a new brewery, Meyer’s Lighthouse Brewery, plans to open soon on Route 9 just before the long road to Sea Isle City, alongside a new mini golf course run by the same owners. Another brewery, Whale’s Tale Brewing Co., takes over the space formerly occupied by COHO Brewing, near Home Depot on Indian Trail Road.

Up in Woodbine, the removal of 100 large trees from a main street, DeHirsch Avenue, caused an uproar on social media. The trees were removed at the behest of Atlantic City Electric, which said they posed a fire hazard.

Sea Isle City

A rendering of Sea Isle’s new $21 million community center.

Sea Isle City is red-hot with new municipal construction, including a $21 million community center in the heart of town with an indoor track, NBA-regulation basketball court, pickeball and volleyball courts, and a whole lot more. Ground was broken in early May, with an 18-month construction timeline. Sea Isle’s new municipal-run dog park opened on May 4 at 7th Street and Landis Avenue.

The former Beachwood at The Dunes in the Townsend’s Inlet section of Sea Isle is now an upscale Italian restaurant, Anthony’s, with the old liquor license in tow. Anthony’s former location will become another Blitz’s Market, the third in the county after the ones in Villas and Ocean City.

In the same section of town, sometime this summer the former Nickleby’s sandwich shop will become Shorebreak Cafe, which is moving from elsewhere on Landis Avenue.

Beach replenishment to address shrinking beaches is taking place from 73rd to 94th and 29th to 53rd streets. Mayor Leonard Desiderio told the City Council in April that the work should be completed by mid-June. Almost all of the money for the project comes from the federal government.

The Wildwoods

State-funded boardwalk improvements continued this year, with phase 5 of the board replacements wrapping up just in time for summer. The new boards give the boardwalk a new character, especially the sections that have red planks.

A country-themed bar and restaurant, Honky Tonk, opened on the boardwalk in the Boardwalk Mall.

Up the road, at 2416 Boardwalk, Papelon Latin Kitchen opened its doors and offers home-style fried Latin American boardwalk food. Steve’s Prince of Steaks opened its doors at 2701 New Jersey Avenue in Wildwood. MudHen Brewing Co. is taking over even more of Rio Grande Avenue with another expansion, taking it to the corner of Rio Grande and New Jersey.

In Wildwood Crest, the long-closed building that once housed the city’s library at 6301 Ocean Ave. finally reopened to the public as the Wildwood Crest Arts Pavilion, with mighty landscaping efforts wrapping up this spring. Madison Resorts opened just in time for Memorial Day weekend, replacing the long-standing Oceanview Motel. The new place is a full-service resort with unique angled roofs and a fancy, nontraditional architectural design.

A rendering of Madison Resorts, by the beach in Wildwood Crest.

The Vibes, a new resort hotel, will replace the aging Binns Motor Inn and the Bonito Hotel.

North Wildwood is finally getting an emergency beach replenishment to the tune of more than $10 million. The fill comes after heightened tensions between North Wildwood’s city government and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Amid the drama, the governor’s office stepped in to get the new sand, courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to North Wildwood’s shrinking beaches.

Cape Island

For decades, Harbor View Restaurant sat on the strip of artificial land between Wildwood Crest and the bridge into Cape May. The waterfront restaurant was one of the most popular restaurants in the county, but it closed its doors earlier this spring. The couple who founded Harbor View have a new venture, The Fish House, taking over Sunset Grill in Cape May Point.

An aerial of the now-closed Harbor View restaurant.

Cape May opened its new fire station on Franklin Street. The old station was actually in West Cape May. The new building represents the fire station “coming home,” Mayor Zack Mullock said at a February council meeting.

South Cape May Meadows, a nature reserve off Sunset Boulevard, will soon open its new elevated boardwalk trail that will make it easier for disabled folks to use the trail system. Some 428 acres of Higbee Beach are closed as a state-run $37.5 million ecological restoration project begins. Matt Holthaus, a water resource engineer in ecosystem restoration involved with the project, said the project will restore tidal saltwater flow to the marshes.

Shore House Canna brought legal weed to Cape May County when it opened in West Cape May last fall.

Seven Mile Island

Drive onto Stone Harbor’s 96th Street from the main bridge and you’ll notice a fresh repaving. And over on the beach, the dredging pipes that sat large on the sands are now gone as the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach fill project comes to a close.

Donna’s Place & Fish Market, a long-standing local business, was completely demolished, with no plans to reopen elsewhere.

Avalon completed its $7 million firehouse renovation project as the firehouse celebrated 110 years of service. Tennis players, who saw the old tennis courts at the 8th Street Recreation Complex get converted to pickleball courts last September, have three new courts to play on next door.

A new upscale Mexican restaurant, Black Cactus, will open this year in the former Coldwell Banker real estate office at 27th and Dune Drive. The owners purchased a liquor license, which was last active at Jack’s Place before it closed a few years ago.

Hodge Podge, a bait and tackle store open for 25 years, closed its doors in Avalon at the end of the 2023 summer season.

A new retail building opened up at 26th and Dune, and new tenants are moving in. Shades of Avalon, the town’s only sunglasses store, and The Spot, a self-described surf boutique, have already opened.

Ocean City

A lot has changed on Asbury Avenue, the city’s main business hub. Seapark is a new sushi spot at 803 Asbury Ave. Boba Works, at 930, makes the jump from Linwood to Ocean City; it is an Asian bakery, cafe, and boba tea spot, the only one in the county besides Cape May Pho and Boba Tea in Court House. DriftSpaces, located at 956, is a new office space for remote workers to have a nice office environment. Old School Burgers, at 3401, promises “fresh, friendly, better burgers.” Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy, the oldest boardwalk business in the city, will move its Asbury Avenue location to a new building down the block to 921.

The grand opening of Boba Works in spring 2024.

Staying on Asbury Avenue, Lisa’s Sweet Treats, on 1046, is a new bakery. Ashorefit, on 1215, is a Lululemon-esque athleisure-wear clothing store. And if you’re feeling sour, Ocean City Pickle Co. sells more than 100 types of pickles at 1324 Asbury Ave., opening Memorial Day weekend. Doozie’s Place breakfast & lunch comes to Ocean City later this summer at 100 Asbury Ave.; it comes from Devon “Doozie” Raab, whose family is known for their longtime presence in Ocean City. Designer Bag Depot opened its doors on 1249A Asbury Ave.; it grew from a small at-home business to a store on Ocean City’s busiest street.

Elsewhere in the city, Kilwin’s, a popular ice cream and fudge chain, will open a location on 736 Wesley Avenue this summer. Joining them in the fudge game is a famous county-wide local fudge chain, Douglass Fudge, which will open its first Ocean City location on the boardwalk. The location has not yet been announced.

Kizbee’s Kitchen, a gluten-free bakery, opens its second location- the flagship location is a popular alternative bakery in Egg Harbor City.

Contact the reporter, Collin Hall, at chall@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 156.

Content Marketing Coordinator / Reporter

Collin Hall grew up in Cape May County and works as a content manager for Do The Shore, as well as a reporter. He currently lives in Villas.

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