Agnes Ritzel, of Margate, is the new owner of Shelly's Cafe in Ventnor, and her resume of experience prepared her for the task: server at Ventnor restaurants, mechanical engineer.

"She thought, rather than being stuck in a cubicle drawing all day long, she enjoys being with the public instead," said her husband, Tom. "So that's what led her to going into the restaurant business. She actually owned a metal-forging company in Poland."

Agnes Ritzel took over the restaurant at 6433 Ventnor Ave. on March 15. Her first change was to keep the restaurant open seven days per week - it previously was closed Tuesdays - and to open 30 minutes earlier, at 7 a.m. She also added a television to the space and hopes to make other additions soon.

"I would like to put the tables outside in the summertime," she said. "I think people like to sit outside. It's just little steps. We are going to accept credit cards. I think that's a big thing. I don't think that summer people, when they come here, carry money, so I think it's easier with the cards. I'm also going to do different specials. I'm Polish, so I want to bring some Polish sausage with breakfast. Or almonds with the sausage. I would like to put some Polish dishes in and do a lunch."

Ritzel came to New Jersey from Poland five years ago to work at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for a summer. A year later, she moved to the area full-time. She spent the past four years working at various local restaurants.

"It's funny. People who I know from all different restaurants, they come here and say, 'Oh, you're here now?'" she said. "I worked for four years as a server. I figured there's a time to be on my own."

When Agnes and Tom Ritzel were dating, they often ate breakfast at Shelly's Cafe. It gave them insight into what not to change.

"The muffins stay the same," Agnes Ritzel said. "The muffins are really famous here because we make them in the morning. We come here around 5 a.m. and make the muffins. That stays. Part of our contract was that we get the secret recipe for the muffins. The bagels stay the same. We have New York-style bagels. No one has that around here."

Ritzel said that the first few weeks have gone smoothly and that she plans to stick with the dishes that work.

"We didn't change the quality of food, that stays the same," she said. "All our products are fresh. We don't have anything frozen.

"We're really happy with the cook we have. He's keeping the quality.

"People keep saying, 'Oh, the pancakes taste the same. The omelets are still good.' That really makes me happy."

Contact David Simpson:

609-272-7204

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