After 117 years, The Merion Inn goes down in history and The Cricket Club is introduced to Cape May
When trying to catch up with all of the property and branding transitions Cape May businesses have undergone the past few years, the chorus to David Bowie’s “Changes” comes to mind. But rather than facing the strange, we are facing exchange.
Perhaps in the midst of the multitude of switch-ups, the significance of each transition and transaction is lost on us. I gained a new perspective, particularly for the closing of The Merion Inn, after reading Cape May Magazine’s 2007 feature story The Man, The Music, The Merion Inn written by Susan Tischler. This story captured the atmosphere and feel of The Merion Inn while it was still in full swing, especially its musical scene.
The Merion was graced with performances by many talented musicians, and pianist George Mesterhazy was at the center of it all. The sounds of jazz music filled the restaurant, pairing well with its dim lighting and array of artwork, establishing a sophisticated and charming vibe. The Merion had character and was thoroughly enjoyed by those who came to dine or dance. This staple of Victorian Cape May and nightlife is now imprinted on the town’s history, as a new venture takes its slot at 106 Decatur Street.
The previous owner of The Merion Inn, Vicki Watson, sold the building to the Kulkowitz family, who also run the very successful Mad Batter. They opened The Cricket Club, a title that pays homage to the origin of The Merion Inn, on October 23rd, welcoming another new dining spot to town.
The Kulkowitz family, along with head chef Jon Davies, designed a contemporary menu and modern setting. It is clear that this establishment pushes toward Cape May’s future while honoring its past. The Cape May County Chamber presented The Kulkowitz family with the 2022 Historic Preservation Award in light of their work with the Mad Batter and The Cricket Club. Both restaurants maintain a Victorian spirit while introducing new elements to the local food industry. ■