Located on Cape May's Washington Street Mall, sandwiched between souvenir shops and clothing boutiques, sits the Ugly Mug.
The Ugly Mug Restaurant & Bar has been serving Cape May's locals and visitors since 1926, providing a place to go for dinner, evening entertainment or an escape from all the shopping.
"A lot of times, the wife will be shopping around and the husband will be sneaking in here to get a beer," General Manager Dwight Dunbracco says. "That's kind of a regular thing."
The tavern offers a full menu with indoor and outdoor dining on the Mall, two full bars and year-round entertainment seven days a week. On Thursdays to Mondays there's a live band starting at 10 p.m., on Tuesday there's a DJ, and on Wednesday it's Karaoke Night.
Some popular bands playing this summer at Ugly Mug include Please Please Me, Stellar Mojo, The Loop, Big Romeo, Goodman Fiske, Candi Flyp, Evolition and Fame and Fortune, Dunbracco says. New to the stage this summer will be Brian Bortnick, the former lead singer of the rock band Octane.
"The songs we play are a mixture of new stuff and old stuff. We try to please everybody," Dunbarcco says. "It's just as good for a 21-year-old as it is for a 50-year-old."
Ceramic mugs cover every inch of Ugly Mug's ceilings and shelf space, each stamped with the name of its holder and the year of purchase.
Some date all the way back to the tavern's beginnings, Dunbracco says. When a mug holder dies, his or her mug is turned toward the ocean in a showing of respect. Sometimes the family of the deceased person will come in to turn the mug and a will slip a note or trinket inside it, too.
How do you get one? In the old days, you had to be invited into the coveted mug club, Dunbracco says. The rules aren't that strict anymore, but you still need to work for it.
"Usually if we have a customer that comes in all the time and deserves one we'll just do it for them," Dunbracco says.
Another option is to win the Ugly Mug's annual Froth Blowing Contest held every year on the last Sunday in August.
"The winner gets a trophy and automatic membership" he says.