By MADDY VITALE
There’s a place in Somers Point called Queen Jayne’s Lounge and Royal Drinkery that could be missed because of its subtle, speakeasy exterior.
And that would be a shame for anyone who likes an intimate space to drink cocktails or fine wines and eat tasty snacks – whether with friends, family, a first date, a corporate meeting or an engagement shower.
Tucked in a shopping center at 264 New Road in Somers Point, but directly next door to its shared brand, Passion Vines Wine & Spirit Company, Queen Jayne’s at Passion Vines offers ambience, an impressive wine and cocktails list and small bites to delight any discerning palate.
“It’s before dinner. It’s after dinner. And if you just don’t feel like going to the restaurant, you can certainly eat enough small bites to satisfy you,” said Michael Bray, founder of the Passion Vines, said of Queen Jayne’s.
Bray pointed out the design, which has modern touches, a high ceiling, comfortable upscale yet casual seating and Art Deco-ish lighting and other decorative touches.
It has a capacity of 50 people. Some nights there is live music.
“There is that speakeasy feel from the outside, and you walk in the doors and you are transported into an upscale, hotel lobby-type of feel,” Bray said. “It is hotel lobby bar meets lounge in an upscale, warm, but never pretentious atmosphere.”
Since opening May 20 with a ribbon-cutting that brought local dignitaries together with Bray and his family and staff, the word has definitely gotten out about what a unique place Queen Jayne’s is and what it has to offer.
“Queen Jayne’s at Passion Vines is an extension of the brand. It offers first class signature cocktails and an incredible wine list, both by the glass and by the bottle. That is where this space shines,” Bray said.
The entire wine list is curated to ultimately showcase and also to educate the patrons on the different selections, he noted.
“The pillar of Passion Vines is to educate and leave each customer knowing a bit more than when they came in,” Bray said.
Not to mention small bites, including smoked salmon, bruschetta, hummus and a “killer charcuterie plate.”
“Those are the most popular snacks we offer. They have enough substance to satisfy,” Bray said.
He explained that there was one overwhelming response from the Queen Jayne’s patrons, some new to the brand, others faithful to Passion Vines.
“People have been saying, ‘we needed this,’ he said.
“Within the Passion Vines retail store next door with the principal bar, there are 16 taps of which we serve craft beer and over 200 whiskeys to try,” Bray said. “Queen Jayne’s is about mixology and wine.”
The establishment is open from Thursday through Sunday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday to Wednesday it is open for private events.
“This is already a hotspot for corporate events, birthday parties, baby showers and more,” Bray noted.
The small kitchen can produce small bites and snacks for private parties. Queen Jayne’s at Passion Vines also partners up with select caterers.
“We will work with the client to select the food and ultimately make sure that it is here for them,” Bray stressed.
When it comes to music, Bray said, there is something offered for everyone.
“We have single players, as well as a duo. They perform everything from jazz to rock to current trends,” he said.
While the principal bar at Passion Vines Wine & Spirit Company next to Queen Jayne’s will continue to host weekly events, there will be and have been special events at the new establishment.
A winemaker from Napa Valley was the featured guest just last week at Queen Jayne’s and there are others scheduled, Bray said.
For anyone who would like to give a Queen Jayne’s experience to a loved one, there are E-gift cards available.
Bray founded Passion Vines Wine & Spirit Company in 2008. Shortly after, Passion Vines Liquor Store of Egg Harbor Township was born in 2010. It boasts over 10,000 square feet of retail space. In addition, Egg Harbor Township is the delivery hub for FedEx shipments throughout the country, as well as local van delivery.
“We have trucks on the road every day, delivering from Brigantine to Stone Harbor,” he said.
Queen Jayne’s, which provides an intimate and upscale space for guests, was missing from the Passion Vines experience, he said.
“By 2010 we began to dream of a space that would slow the guests down and allow us to reach a level of hospitality that, often times, due to the short time span a customer is in-store, you don’t get to reach,” he said. “Being in a retail establishment, we get to do a lot of service, but we don’t cross the hospitality bridge.”
He noted that, “Queen Jayne’s is a space that allows us to explore an element of hospitality. We get to take the beverages we’ve been selling for decades and do it in such a way that allows us to showcase their integrity and our love for them.”
It took a team to bring it together.
“It took a village and lot of patience and thorough decision making. Russell Snow of Russell Snow Builders was our contractor. Based out of Ocean City, Russell is a premier builder and designer,” Bray said.
He continued, “Equally important to the project, he was also the ideal customer. This made and makes for great alignment and conversation throughout. In addition, Surfside Casual was involved in furniture selection and Angelina Wilson of Ricciardi Brothers did a great job on paint and wallpaper selections.”
Bray has been asked many times where he came up with the name Queen Jayne’s for the lounge and drinkery.
But for those who know him well, the answer is obvious.
His mother’s name was Jayne Bray. She passed away June 29, 2022, when the Team at Passion Vines was beginning to design the new space.
He also enjoys the music from Bob Dylan, who has a song, “Queen Jane Approximately.”
“I began calling my mom Queen Jayne 10 years ago,” Bray said. “We were in the middle of construction for the new bar when my mom passed away. I wanted to name it for my mom in tribute to her.”