VENTNOR – Variety is the spice of life, and four new businesses that opened in two of the city’s bustling business districts offer a little something for everyone, including fashionistas, gourmands, puppy parents, and those who keep kosher.
Pawparazzi, a pet grooming business, joins Cardinal Bistro on the 6500-block of Ventnor Avenue; and Design Nation, a custom T-shirt and design business, joins Poppy’s Café and Commissary, a kosher food mart, on the 5200-block of Atlantic Avenue.
All four businesses opened for the start of the busy summer at-the-shore season.
For Pet Parents
Shop owner Geri Taber of Margate has been grooming dogs for more than 15 years.
“My philosophy of grooming is it is not worth it if the dog is anxious. I will play with them if necessary to calm them down,” she said as she was grooming Prince, a rescue dog. “Dogs are like children who never grow up.”
Services offered include trimming nails, ear cleaning and removing fur with no pain, “everything imaginable to groom a dog properly,” she said.
Taber also offers dog sitting services, so pet owners can enjoy an afternoon at the beach or a quick trip out of town. Most of her customers are pet owners visiting the shore from Philadelphia or New York City areas, she said, but local residents have been bringing their pooches in for a summer clipping.
Charges depend on the size of the pup and the condition and length of the dog’s coat, starting at $68. Dog sitting is $35 for the day or $45 overnight, but customers must provide their own food.
“We want the dog’s to keep to their steady diet,” Taber said.
To make an appointment or obtain more information, call 609-822-2023.
Across the street, chef Mike Brennan, 24, of Absecon, a 2014 graduate of Culinary Institute of America, opened Cardinal Bistro, which boasts a contemporary American cuisine, he said.
“We keep it kind of vague so we can incorporate different influences, from Mediterranean and French, to Asian and Indian,” Brennan said. “We call it a melting pot of cuisines, familiar, yet unique.”
Brennan started his career at LeBec Fin, and worked at Lacriox in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Hotel. He’s held every job in the front and back of the house, and following his culinary training, landed at Sea Island Resort in St. Simons Island, Georgia. He opened Union Provisions in Charleston, South Carolina before moving back to Absecon.
“We looked around and stumbled across this place. It has an ideal location on a busy street with market demand,” he said.
The restaurant, a BYOB, got its name from artwork created by his mom, Carla. Dad Tom helps out with the books.
The menu constantly changes, taking advantage of seasonal vegetables grown locally.
“We are sourcing as close to the restaurant as possible,” Brennan said. “It’s called ‘terror’ and gives a sense of where something is grown.”
Specialties include buckwheat cavatelli, vegan-friendly salads, farm-fresh chicken, beef and pork, and a hearty cioppino, jam packed with local seafood. Roasted corn soup with crème freish and micro wasabi leaves was the special soup of the day last Thursday.
Appetisers and salads range from $10-$15, entrees $20-$30, and the cioppino is $35.
“We make a different butter every day and Formica’s bread is on the table,” Brennan said.
The restaurant is open for dinner, 5-10 p.m. daily. In the off-season, it will be own Thursdays through Sundays.
For reservations, call 609-541-4633, or email@example.com.
For Keeping Kosher
David Richter saw a need to cater to Downbeach residents and visitors of the Jewish persuiasion who keep kosher.
“We felt there was an interest and a need for this type of place based on the demographics of the island,” he said. “A kosher market was almost non-existent and a convenience to Jewish people who drive a long distance. We’re here for residents and visitors, as well as to support the community.”
Located in the former Melalani Café space, Poppy’s offers baked goods, challah, and bagels imported from a supplier in Philadelphia, and made according to the strictest kosher guidelines. The store sells flavored coffees, pre-packaged deli meats, grab and go soups, sandwiches and salads, including couscous and coleslaw.
The market also offers kosher chicken, roasts and steaks ready for grilling.
“We get deliveries several times a week, so everything is fresh. The response from the community has been fantastic, and we are willing to expand our offerings,”
The market is open Sunday through Fridays, but is closed on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
“We close about five-ish on Fridays – early enough to get home for the Sabbath,” Richter said.
For information, call Poppy’s at 609-541-4266.
Rachel Albanese and Laurie Staller know a bit about design. Both are designers who got together to share a workspace, Design Nation, just doors down from Poppy’s.
“We’re both graphic designers. We saw this spot and knew it should be retail, so we decided to do T-shirts. Most of the designs are original,” Albanese said. “What makes our T-shirts special is the quality. They are buttery soft and durable, not your typical T-shirt fabric.”
Albanese said the line is designed in the shop and sent to a screen printer for finishing.
“We also do custom designs for families, gifts and teams,” she said.
Design Nation recently provided the T-shirts for the Ventnor Cultural Arts Center and the inaugural Gilda’s Club Dragon Boat Races.
“We’ve been getting a lot of custom bulk orders. We always come up with new designs for the T-shirts we sell in the shop, so we don’t get stagnant. There will be something new here each time you come,” she said.
Design Nation also provides other types of design work, including business cards, flyers and website building.
“We’re currently doing two websites for local businesses. The cost depends on the job,” she said.
Those concerned about the environment will be pleased to know that the shop is “plastic free.”
The furniture in the store has been up-cycled for a second use, the bags are paper, and all the hangars are made from metal or cardboard.
“We’re big on being eco-friendly. Even our receipts can be texted or emailed to reduce paper use,” Albanese said.
Albanese, who moved to Ventnor four years ago, kept her job as a graphic designer at a social media design company in New York City, and works remotely.
“I’ve been working seven days a week, but I don’t mind it. This has been the best summer of my life so far. I’ve never been as busy, or as creative.”
Tank tops are $25, T-shirts are $30, custom work priced to order.
The shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
For more, call 609-350-6879 or see shopdesignnation on Facebook.