Better late than never for two businesses

Walid Abdelgawad recently opened Jo Jo Pizzeria

Written by Christopher SouthSaturday, July 26, 2014 01:12 pm

CAPE MAY – Some people think Memorial Day is the start of the summer season. Others say it starts after schools are out. Many believe the season doesn’t really get going until the Fourth of July.

Starting a business after the Fourth of July, then, could either be a good move or a risky business decision depending on who you are.

Jo Jo Pizzeria and West Cape Bike Rentals have both opened their doors post-July 4 – Jo Jo Pizzeria around July 17, and West Cape Bike Rental around July 19. Each owner had a reason for wanting to make the move.

Walid Abdelgawad has been a local business owner for quite a few years. He ran Italiano’s Pizza before purchasing Blue Moon Pizza on the beachfront. He moved the business to the busy 400 block of Beach Avenue, then opened the Jo Jo Mediterranean Grill at Sunset and Broadway in West Cape May.

Abdelgawad had the opportunity to move into the former Lemon Tree restaurant site in the 500 block of the Washington Street Mall, so he took it. He said he was not nervous about the decision.

“I’m not looking at business for this year. We want to fix it up, set it up, and create a special menu for next year,” he said.

Abdelgawad said he has been making pizzas for 14 years, so he initially opened Jo Jo Pizzeria doing what he knows best. However, he already has plans to reopen in the new year as Jo Jo Pizzeria and Mediterranean Grill.

“It will be the only Mediterranean grill in South Jersey,” he said.

His restaurant in West Cape May has been doing well with items such as tabouli, hummus, homemade stuffed grape leaves, falafels, chicken and lamb kabobs, and gyros with tzatziki sauce. He said the Mediterranean and Greek salads have been big sellers. However, he thinks he can only do better on the Washington Street Mall.

“It’s a better location to expand the business. There are more customers,” he said.

He said he likes the location, saying he has good neighbors and good friends on the mall. He is also very happy being in Cape May, in general.

“Cape May is a big part of me. It’s in my heart…I don’t think I could ever move out of Cape May,” he said.

That has led members of Abdelgawad’s family to give up New York and move to Cape May. He said they have found the local customers to be good, and Cape May a safe place to live and do business. Abdelgawad credits the Cape May Police Department officers with keeping the city safe. He said working with the City of Cape May has also been easy.

“I opened for six days, and I got my permits in just two days,” he said.

Abdelgawad said he would serve pizza this summer until 11 p.m., then he goes to Blue Moon Pizza where he stays until 3 a.m. Things will change next year, when he has his cousin, “Chef Heidi,” preparing a Mediterranean menu for the mall location.

“She will be responsible for all the Mediterranean food and she would like to add new items. She is also experienced in Italian dinners, so we will offer both Mediterranean and Italian dinners,” he said.

Abdelgawad said the plan is to open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night dining. And in his short time on the Washington Street Mall, Abdelgawad said, “It’s been a very good start.”

Also not complaining about the beginning of his three-day old (on Tuesday) business is Matt Zielinski of West Cape Bike Rentals.

Zielinski grew up in Cape May and went to Hawaii for college. Like a lot of local youth, he was lured back to Cape May by family connections and a love of the area.

He worked in various jobs in the area – working in commercial fishing, waiting tables, and tending bar. He said those jobs eventually lost their appeal.

About four years ago, Zielinski started Geared Up Rentals, an online service for renting bikes, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, linens, pack-n-plays, cots, DVD players, iPod docks, and even a dog crate. Customers can go online to rent these items, and Zielinski will deliver them to you. However, the online business is based on a one-week rental basis, and he found he had inventory sitting around. He decided a storefront rental business would be the best way to do daily rentals.

“I had been looking for a storefront and found this place,” he said. “I kind of decided at the last minute.”

Zielinski said this way he is able to offer daily or three-day rentals to walk in business. He said both businesses allow him to provide a service to visitors to Cape May.

“If I can make it more convenient for people they will be happier,” he said.

Zielinski said he will be open as late into the season as weather allows, shooting for Nov. 1, but saying more realistically he would be open until the second week of October.

Contact West Cape Bike Rental via www.geareduprentals.com  or call 888-473-6964. Call Jo Jo Pizzeria at 609-884-0404, or for late night eaters, call Blue Moon Pizza at 609-884-3033 until 3 a.m.