• MARGATE – For the fourth year in a row, the tax rate for real property in Margate will remain unchanged. The Board of Commissioners introduced its 2015 municipal budget Feb. 19 with no increase in taxes.

    The $31.5 million budget calls for a tax rate of 60.1 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, the same as last year. The average homeowner with a house assessed at $516,007 will pay $3,101.20 in municipal taxes this year.

    Salaries, pensions and debt service are up slightly, but overall spending is down $124,843, according to Chief Financial Officer Lisa McLaughlin.

  • Lt. Frank CulmoneLONGPORT – At its Feb. 25 regular meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to support Mayor Nicholas Russo’s recommendation of Lt. Frank Culmone as the next chief of police.

    Culmone will replace Police Chief Vincent Pacentrilli, who will retire April 1 after 29 years on the police force.

    Russo said Culmone has the two most important traits for a police officer – morals and ethics.

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday, Feb. 24 cancelled its bid solicitation to build sand dunes on the beaches of Margate and Longport.

    “Today, we notified the bidders that we are cancelling the solicitation,” said Steve Rochette, public affairs officer of the Army Corps Philadelphia District.

    The Army Corps had received two extensions to finalize the contract from two bidders vying for the job. The latest deadline to award the contract was Wednesday, Feb. 25.

  • MARGATE – A building boom in Margate should all but eliminate an increase in taxes this year, Chief Financial Officer Lisa McLaughlin reported at the Board of Commissioners work session on Feb. 5.

    It’s still under review, but a draft budget is complete and “I anticipate getting very close to a zero increase,” McLaughlin said.

    In her unaudited finance update, McLaughlin noted that the city increased ratables by more than $14 million, which brings the net taxable value of real estate in the city to $3,560,607,377.

  • VENTNOR – Ventnor Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association President Joe Iannuzzelli, backed by a dozen firefighters, attended the Board of Commissioners work session Wednesday, Feb. 11 at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex to ask whether a rumor he heard that the Ventnor and Atlantic City fire departments would merge is true.

    Mayor Michael Bagnell responded to his questions by saying that he is “just doing research” into the feasibility of merging the two departments.

  • Donna M. Peterson of Ventnor is the city’s new emergency management coordinator.VENTNOR – Since she was appointed Dec. 1 to lead the Office of Emergency Management, Donna M. Peterson has checked several items off her to-do list.She prioritized emergency responders as foremost for adequately protecting the city during the next big emergency event, improved technology and communication for first responding agencies and is working to finalize FEMA reimbursements from the last eight declared storms.

    “We’ve been very busy in a lot of different areas. I am trying to catch up on things, not just for myself, but for Ventnor City,” she said during an interview Friday, Feb. 6 at her office in City Hall.

  • MARGATE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has obtained a second extension of the deadline to award a contract to build sand dunes in Margate and Longport.

    According to Edward C. Voight, chief of Public and Legislative Affairs for the Philadelphia office of the Army Corps of Engineers, the bidders have agreed to extend their bid offerings for one month. The new deadline is Feb. 25.

    Additionally, The Downbeach Current has learned that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has not filed eminent domain proceedings in state court to obtain the easements needed to build sand dunes in Margate.

Ventnor Coffee is created by, and for locals

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Ventnor coffee owners and family members Laura Pagano, her mother Christine Pagano, and her husband Michael Einwechter of Margate. Ventnor coffee owners and family members Laura Pagano, her mother Christine Pagano, and her husband Michael Einwechter of Margate.

VENTNOR – There’s a buzz on Dorset Avenue created by the smell of brewed coffee and the sound live music.

Ventnor Coffee owners Michael Einwechter and Christine Pagano said creating a place where people gather over good coffee and culture was a dream that became a reality.

“We have always dreamed of owning a coffee shop and having it in a garage-style location. Christine has always wanted to own a coffee joint of her own. She wanted a place where everyone come hang out and have some coffee, a place to relax and read a book or listen to live music,” Michael Einwechter said. “I've always wanted a coffee shop that would bring culture to our small town. A little shop that offered a one-on-one spot where musicians could explain their songs in a forum style.”

As the third-generation owner and operator of Schallus and Sons Construction, the Margate resident who grew up in Ventnor put his skills to use converting the former auto glass repair shop into a coffee house that looks like a living room inside and incorporates an outdoor patio.

He still works as a contractor when he is not brewing coffee or serving as president of the Ventnor Tourism Association. His wife Christine worked as a secretary for Prudential Fox and Roach before opening the coffee shop and enjoys spending time with their grandchildren. The couple held a grand opening celebration at Ventnor Coffee Sunday, Aug. 4.

“Ventnor Coffee is catered to our locals; a place where everyone can just come and chill. Our coffee is inexpensive and very good,” Einwechter said.

A small coffee is $1.50, $1.75 for medium and $2 for large.

Ventnor Coffee offers a variety coffee supplied by Bucks County Coffee including an organic light roast breakfast blend, a Colombian medium roast, a Costa Rican dark roast and Colombian decaf. There is also iced coffee brewed fresh every morning and iced tea, espresso, Americanos, cappuccinos, lattes and other coffee drinks.

Einwechter said Bucks County Coffee roasts the beans fresh for Ventnor Coffee and the owners inspect each delivery for packaged dates. He said the coffee is roasted, packed and sent to the store within a week.

“We have two specialty coffees that have been a huge hit: our Ventnor-chino, which is a mocha with coffee ice cream from Custard’s. We also do a banana bomber which is a blended espresso frappe with a whole banana,” Einwechter said.

In addition to coffee, there is plenty of pastries including cupcakes, danish, muffins, brownies, cookies and biscotti.

“Every day, we try to have something different,” Einwechter said. “We don't sell cooked items, but right next door is Annette's. You can come get coffee from us and go to Annette's for some breakfast, and in the afternoon you can go right across the street and get some fantastic pizza at Viggo's. If you want coffee and the kids want ice cream, you can get that at Custard’s directly across the street,” Einwechter said.

Pagano said her favorite item on the menu is the red velvet cupcakes, and Einwechter likes the Ventnor-chino.

In addition to java, Ventnor Coffee has a large lending library where the owners allow customers to exchange books and high speed Wi-Fi.

“We've been told the we’re the fastest of all coffee houses around,” Einwechter said.

Ventnor Coffee also has a local rewards card that is punched for each drink purchased and the 11th order is free.

The walls of the shop are adorned with local art, which is all for sale and rotates five to six different featured artists each month, Einwechter said.

“We also have some of our own personal sculptures including an 8-foot Fender guitar, custom furniture built from pallets, and a unique sculptured Ventnor coffee sign cut and finished from some old wood,” Einwechter said. “We are also waiting on a 6-foot statue from an artist that will be placed outside of the coffee shop.”

Local musicians are frequently a part of the atmosphere at Ventnor Coffee. Solo artists, jazz and rock bands have all performed there and it was host to a Coffee and Canvas art and music show Sunday, Sept. 1.

Local jazz band YGB plays 7:30 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesday is open mic night.

Einwechter actively updates the Ventnor Coffee Facebook page and the shop can be reached at (609) 992-3046 and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . See ventnorcoffee.com.

Ventnor Coffee is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Owner Michael Einwechter of Margate steams milk for a latte. Owner Michael Einwechter of Margate steams milk for a latte.   An 8-foot-tall custom-built Fender Stratocaster sculpture adorns a wall at Ventnor Coffee. An 8-foot-tall custom-built Fender Stratocaster sculpture adorns a wall at Ventnor Coffee.


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