Welcome to the Cricket Club of Cape May

The Caroll Villa Hotel opened in the ’70s without a bar to serve libations. When the family acquired a liquor license years later, they opened a bar without seats. Yet they persisted. Fast forward to 2022, and now four generations of Kulkowitz’s.


Rumors fly through Cape May like mass transit trains. This winter has seen an abundance of those rumors. Multiple changes of ownership in both restaurants and hotels have taken place. One significant change is the train leaving Merion Station. Or, more clearly, the Merion Inn has left the Decatur Street location.

For the Kulkowitz family to acquire the sight of the former Merion Inn, is a symbol of their continued investment into the community they love so much.  Decades of hiring local people to work and musicians from the surrounding area to perform are part of their heritage.

Now the Cricket Club is entering the station at 106 Decatur Street. It is touted to be Cape May’s newest concept in Contemporary American Flair. The Cricket Club of Cape May will open with a complete refresh of the building decor, dining room, and a brand new bar included.

“Our Cricket Club kitchen will feature local ingredients paired with global flavors. Dishes to include made-to-order Oyster Stew, Ahi Udon salad, Swordfish Tacos Al Pastor, Fried Tomatoes with Crabmeat gravy, Chorizo Scotch Egg, Shrimp, and Cauliflower Grits, Cape May Scallops with Mexican street corn salad,” Jon Davies Chef de Cuisine informed us.

Jon Davies is returning to work for the Kulkowitz family as he did fifteen years ago. Ironically, Jon also worked for the Merion Inn. “This menu will have an urban flair that has been successful in many other areas,” Davies said.

Something new and good for the community

Cricket Club is a subtle hat tip to the building’s history. People familiar with Merion Inn history or the geography of the Main Line will know the historical reference to the famed Cricket Club. But don’t expect either West Indian or British cuisine.

Matt Reeves will be crafting cocktails to compliment the menu at The Cricket Club. The lead mixologist at the Mad Batter, Matt, is an expert in creating drink menus, spirits, and cocktails to be symbiotic with food. Expect your cocktails to be gently stirred, not shaken. No bruising of bourbon happening here.

Look for The Cricket Club of Cape May to open in early June. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.




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  1. Marleen Murgitroyde
    April 14, 2022 / 10:37 pm

    Congratulations to Mark, Pam and the Kulkowitz family. My only regret is I won’t be there for the Grand Opening. If the hospitality at The Cricket is the same as it always has been at Carroll Villa/Mad Batter, no stuffiness allowed.

  2. Lynnie Braun
    April 15, 2022 / 7:41 pm

    Very excited. Looking forward to opening night.

  3. Jane Reynolds
    April 16, 2022 / 7:18 am

    How disappointing. The menu certainly will not attract me. We were frequent visitors to the Merion Inn, loved the menu, loved the atmosphere and loved the music. Class, old world charm and a place to go where people actually dressed handsomely is now history.

    • Local Jones
      April 17, 2022 / 7:13 pm

      The Merion was for sale and the Mad Barter bought the property. Before you go around trashing their menu while it’s NOT even out, maybe you should give them a try first before you post ONLINE negative comments. How rude and classless

      • Local Jones
        April 17, 2022 / 7:33 pm


      • Cape Mayniac
        May 24, 2022 / 2:07 am

        I always attempt to have good faith in new businesses. However, the Merrion was always friendly to the ELTC patrons. Always a nice place to get a drink after a show, even if it was late. I am hoping the new management is going to coordinate with the theatre schedule so the bar is open after shows, although this seems unlikely. I hope this is a place where theatre goers can come in to enjoy a drink before a show and not some place where you need to buy a 3 course meal by walking in the door. If this new place is not friendly to the theatre crowd, this would be a huge loss. I am hoping they decide to keep this tradition alive

  4. Diane Rodgers
    April 16, 2022 / 2:54 pm

    Hello and congratulations. I loved the Merion Inn and have a gift certificate for $100. I’m hoping you will honor it. Can I count on that?

    • April 16, 2022 / 3:14 pm

      Hello Diane, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. My understanding is that Merion Inn retained the value of the gift certificates and did not turn them over in the sale of the real estate.

      You may be able to reach them through their website which I have highlighted here for you.

      • Debra Bianchi
        September 14, 2022 / 5:48 pm

        Hello John I also have gift certificates purchased from the Merion inn I tried contacting those in charge by email a few times and have not received any response Who should I contact about redemption of the gift certificates?

  5. The Lobbys
    April 16, 2022 / 4:53 pm

    Nope…nope…and nope…what,are you competing with the Virginia Ebbit Room?? We want the Merion cozy ambience…long live the potato cup! Not everybody wants to dine in a hoidy toidy new American cuisine…you’ve ruined it for many of us who loved the Merion just the way it was…and now,we’ll never get that back…so disappointed and so very sad…we will miss Richard,Janice,the piano bar…and the cozy Merion we cherished and loved.

    • April 17, 2022 / 9:36 am

      Hello Jean,
      I can understand your dismay. However, I think you are upset that Merion went out of business. The Kulkowitz’s purchased the shell of a hallowed building and will attempt to breathe new life into it. The possibilities are full of hope.

      • Jean Lobby
        April 27, 2022 / 10:04 pm

        That “shell of a hallowed building” was beloved by many…and while all of our voices may be different,everyone is welcome to share their opinion…many of us loved the vibe of the Merion…we are so sad…and we have a $100 gift certificate that we heard this new place will not honor…nice business practice…said no patron ever…so long,Merion…been good to know ya…wish they could have bought it and kept the coziness of the Merion…😔

        • April 28, 2022 / 9:17 am

          Jean, my understanding is the person who owned the Merion, retained the gift certificate credits. They may be redeemable when they reopen in another location. Stay tuned.

          • Donna Nihen
            May 31, 2022 / 6:15 pm

            You mention the Marion Inn will be relocating. Can you share the address of their new location?
            Best Wishes to the new Cricket Club!

          • May 31, 2022 / 8:26 pm

            Donna, several social media postings suggest the Southern Mansion would be utilizing some assets of the Old Merion. However the actual business may have ceased to exist.

          • Beth
            May 31, 2022 / 8:57 pm

            Hey there “John Cooke” Ive read through all the comments and every one of yours begins “I understand…. Or “My understanding …

            I dont think you do “understand” There is was a tradition and there are Loyal fans of The Merion Inn and in these times post CoVid people are craving normalcy of past summers so i dont think Im way off saying that a new american menu is not what the people want. If you are indeed lucky enough to have snagged a former chef from the Merion Inn then start making potato cups and roasting prime rib bc Really? Does Cape May,a Victorian seaside town, really need another new modern menu or would families,who have probably been coming to Cape May for generations want a comfy traditional menu to begin traditions with their children and grandkids prefer a taste of nostalgia

      • Debra Bianchi
        September 14, 2022 / 5:50 pm

        Hello John I also have gift certificates purchased from the Merion inn I tried contacting those in charge by email a few times and have not received any response Who should I contact about redemption of the gift certificates?

    • Local Jones
      April 17, 2022 / 6:55 pm

      Wow how incredibly negative. How about you give them a try before trashing them before they’ve even opened. If you’re so upset maybe you should’ve purchased The Merion. God knows it’s been on and off the market foe YEARS. Additionally as for the potato cup, it’s an easy recipe. It’s instant mashed potatoes, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Have at it! All day long!!

      • Mark Woods - Pittsburgh
        April 21, 2022 / 1:06 pm

        I secured the potatoe cup recipe from former head chef Bill Robinson in 1970.

        • Kristen
          June 3, 2022 / 12:25 pm

          Are you able to share that recipe? It was our favorite side! Thank you- Kristen

    • Karen
      April 30, 2022 / 6:10 pm

      Agree totally, it was like a step back in time with that beautiful bar.

    • Karen
      April 30, 2022 / 6:14 pm

      I loved the piano and ambience ! there are enough modern eclectic restaurants the old world charm was wonderful!

      • Christine Coleman
        August 17, 2022 / 1:03 pm

        Too many “Karen’s” on this page! The Merion is gone. Deal with it! Embrace the change and welcome The Cricket Club. Can’t wait to try it! Best of luck on this new endeavor.

  6. Bonnie Rivera
    April 17, 2022 / 7:43 am

    Congratulations to the Mad Batter Family! I was the hostess that first season in the 1970’s and remember well the creativity and energy that went into establishing the tone of the Mad Batter and Caroll Villa. Delighted to read that it will continue with Mark and Pam and the fourth generation of Kulkowitz’s in The Cricket Club. Kudos to All!

    Bonnie Rivera

    • April 17, 2022 / 9:32 am

      Hello Bonnie
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I passed your remarks along to Pam.

  7. Heidi Cummings
    April 17, 2022 / 5:16 pm

    In the late 70s my friend came to town to celebrate my birthday. we went to the Marion Inn. it was packed and we were invited to wait at the bar. 45 minutes later they called our name and escorted us to a table. As we started to sit down they said you’ll have to leave, my husband’s shorts were too athletic looking. We left and walked around the block to a newish restaurant, the Mad Batter. we were escorted by a quirky man named Harry into an empty dining room. Show tunes blaring and a waitstaff singing and dancing. The food was fabulously exotic for the time. (Never went back to the Merion for years.) I’ve enjoyed watching the spirit of Harry pass down the generations as they keep reinventing the Batter. Can’t wait to see their magic at the Cricket.

  8. Steve Kusheloff
    April 19, 2022 / 12:11 pm

    We’ve always enjoyed the Mad Batter, especially for breakfast, and will probably give the Cricket Club a try. I’m so glad the restaurant was purchased. As an annual visitor for over 20 years, I want to see Cape May continue to thrive. One question – will the Cricket Club take reservations? I believe the Mad Batter adamantly does not take reservations.

  9. Mark Woods - Pittsburgh
    April 21, 2022 / 11:59 am

    Sad news. There was nothing like the Merion. Worked for Warren Watson during my college days with Bill Robinson, Reggie Taylor and David King, Great memories. Will miss the obeisance with nostalgic decor which made the Merion a landmark in Cape May. Rest In Peace old friend. You will be greatly missed.

    • Mark Woods
      April 21, 2022 / 12:32 pm


  10. Beverley J Johnston
    May 5, 2022 / 6:31 pm

    Your “new” restaurant sounds fabulous!
    Please offer safe gluten free foods as well. No cross contamination.
    All the best for a fabulous dining experience!

  11. Tom Halligan
    May 20, 2022 / 8:59 pm

    The reason new owners almost never honor previous gift certificates is because they know that those diners will be the first ones to trash the place because it will never live up to their memories of their past nostalgia or food preference: “What? No potato cup and crab Imperial!!! Arrrgggh! Besides that gift certificate cash is in the pocket of previous owners, so deal with them. Yea, I too miss some of the old days, like when all the continents were connected 200 million years ago (Pangea) and you could grab some pasta in what is now called Italy then walk down to the equator for guac and tacos, then head north up to what is now England for fish and chips and a pint, the swing over to the Pacific for seared Ahi tuna (rare of course) Ahhhh, the good old days.

    • susan williams
      January 2, 2023 / 3:11 pm


  12. John Wedo
    May 28, 2022 / 10:27 pm

    When will you start to take reservations? We will be there the week of June 20, and I am making them now.Thank you for your time.

    • May 31, 2022 / 8:28 pm

      John you will need to follow the social media posts for updates.

      • John Wedo
        June 1, 2022 / 10:02 pm

        I am not on social media. How about you just put it on your website? Remember that I am trying to patronize your business. Thank you.

  13. Carolyn Nelson
    June 12, 2022 / 11:18 pm

    For those of us for whom the Merion was our ‘place where everybody knows your name’ and one of the main draws of Cape May, it was sad to hear that it had been sold. We hoped that in spite of the change, the spirit of the Merion would live on, even if the menu and decor was refreshed, which to be honest, was needed. Certainly, I will visit The Cricket Club with an open mind and I wish the new owners every success as I love Cape May and want it to remain a vibrant and beautiful place. One of the things that made The Merion so special was the world-class caliber of jazz, both in the piano bar at the meticulously maintained Steinway and on the Tuesday jazz nights which were always packed. Will any live jazz be a part of the new owner’s vision? Also, you say the renovation will include “a new bar” — does that mean you are adding a 2nd bar? Maybe you are just updating the furnishings of the original bar, but I would be surprised if the Cape May Historic Preservation board would allow the gorgeous old mahogany bar, bronze statue and fixtures to be completely removed, but maybe they only regulate the exterior of historic buildings? If everything is going out to make way for the new, I wish I would have had the opportunity to buy the painting of the diners that was behind the piano. Gosh, I love that painting! See you in June.

    • Nancy K. Hill
      September 12, 2022 / 12:30 am

      Hi Carolyn,
      I am in total agreement with your response and it reflects how I was going to respond. We typically visit Cape May for a week in September and stay within walking distance of the Merion Inn. We look forward to our frequent nightly visits there after a day on the beach, showering and dressing up a bit to enjoy the atmosphere: the piano music, especially by the very talented Dean Schneider, delicious food and the most wonderfully designed cocktails. The bartenders have been fabulous and entertaining over our years there (i.e., Cody, Mark; Miranda and I may be missing a name). The atmosphere is what made our evenings! Dean would play to our requests and amazingly combined two songs my husband requested! Who else can do that?!

      We have not been back for a few years, due not just to the restrictions relating to “COVID”, but to circumstances at home in Maryland. We hope to visit this year in early October and plan to visit The Cricket Club and find some sense of familiarity with this special location. I would be most interested in learning the status of the music venue. Do they still have a jazz night? Do you know where Dean Schneider may be? I am attempting to learn more and just thought I would ask you since you mentioned you would be there in June.

      Thank you!

  14. W Michael Kotyk
    July 5, 2022 / 4:58 pm

    When is your opening – looking forward to starting a new family tradition – dinner at the Cricket Club

  15. Tony Perticari
    July 12, 2022 / 10:49 am

    Congratulations, as a long time Merion Inn customer I look forward to coming to The Cricket Club. How do I book a reservation?

  16. David F Gardner
    October 22, 2022 / 1:19 pm


      • Ann & Wallace Kotyk
        October 22, 2022 / 6:55 pm

        Fantastic – can’t wait to start a new family tradition. Congratulations and look forward to our first visit.

    • October 23, 2022 / 12:24 pm

      For the moment they are not requiring them. Slow smooth transition. I will let you know if that changes.

  17. Betty Hill
    August 23, 2023 / 5:44 pm

    Coming In a couple weeks with an open mind. We’ve been coming to the Inn for years. I gave confidence that it still the same high standard it was in the past. Looking forward to our visit.