CAPE MAY, N.J. -- The lively town at New Jersey's southernmost tip is bustling year-round.
One of its notable landmarks is the Exit Zero Filling Station, fittingly named for its home beyond the very last exit on the Garden State Parkway.
"Cape May has a special, special vibe," said Jack Wright, the owner of Exit Zero Filling Station, which originally started as a hometown magazine publisher that continues to this day.
A 20-year resident of the Jersey Shore, Wright is originally from Scotland.
"I'm from a place where people eat Indian food the way that Americans eat pizza," he said.
That's why he started his food service business selling Thai and Indian food. The Exit Zero brand became so popular, it evolved into an Americana-themed restaurant, gift shop, magazine publisher, and gas station hybrid.
The quirky amalgamation of businesses flourished for two years before they were met with a new challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic. Exit Zero paired its gas pumping stations with dining tables, creating a quirky aesthetic that became popular with customers.
But once the winter months started rolling in, they needed to create a warmer alternative.
"We started ski tents, little ski lodges," said Wright.Now, families can reserve their own wintry fort in the parking lot, paired with its own heater and skiing-related paraphernalia.
In addition to limited indoor dining options, Wright teamed up with a local artist to design even more private dining spaces.