Ask anyone in Cape May where the best place to catch a sunset is, and they’ll likely respond, “Harpoons on the Bay.”
“No other restaurant in Cape May county offers completely unobstructed sunset views,” raves Owner Brady Schoenrock. “The sun literally drops into the Delaware Bay every night. You can’t see any land, just water — it’s a Key West-style sunset.”
Cape May locals will also know that Harpoons on the Bay has had many different faces over the years. In fact, most are pretty fuzzy on when the original restaurant that occupied the space even began operations.
Schoenrock tells of a photograph they have from the 1950s of a bartender working in the space when it was called Rendezvous, and was little more than a bar in the living room of an old house. So, he surmises that the establishment opened its doors sometime in the ’40s. In the ’70s the Wallace family took it over, made some additions, and renamed it Whalers Cove, because of the rich whaling history the bay has seen. The Wallaces included a fine-dining element to the restaurant, along with the more causal outdoor area.
In the 2000s the Wallaces sold the business to Ed and Teresa Henry, who changed the name to Harpoon Henry’s. They ran the business for 14 years before deciding to retire.
“They wanted to sell it to someone who would keep it what it was,” says Schoenrock.
Popping a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine is usually associated with special events — …
He and Jeff Raiczyk, his business partner, had been longtime customers there, and, hearing the wishes of the Henrys, bought the restaurant in September 2016.
From a bar in a ramshackle living room to a breezy, bay-side eatery, Harpoons on the Bay has seen drastic changes over the years, but when Schoenrock and Raiczyk took over, they only made small upgrades — renovating the facilities and prettying things up a bit.
They also adjusted the menu to focus more on locally caught and grown produce.
Current menu favorites include the fish of the day (market price) and the seafood pasta ($26) with scallops, Gulf shrimp, lobster, littleneck clams and fresh tomatoes served in a white wine sauce. They also have a nightly beef special, usually a roasted prime rib, that has been a popular order of late.
The future of Harpoons on the Bay looks even sunnier, as they’re about to reopen their tiki bar, remodeled to have more space and a bit of a modern, nautical feel. The bar will feature a wide selection of canned craft beers and canned wines.
Harpoons also recently got approved to build another bar. Though, before they start construction, guests can still enjoy that area by settling into one of the Adirondack chairs that Harpoons has located there.
“Everyone talks about the Brown Room being Cape May’s living room. But we’ve always looked at Harpoons as being the living room of North Cape May,” Schoenrock says. “It becomes a gathering place after dinner. For many year-round residence, this is their social club … We’ve been able to keep that super laid-back, relaxed feeling.”