Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Downtown Wildwood biz rebrands as Shawn’s Cheesesteaks & Paninis; numerous upgrades in store for 2024

Shawn McGuigan
says he learned a great deal during his first season in business on Pacific Avenue in Downtown Wildwood, and he’s looking to apply those lessons to increase the visibility of his brand.

“We had a good year, overall,” said the owner of the newly-named Shawn’s Cheesesteaks & Paninis, which opened this past spring as the Panini Cafe on Pacific (at Cedar Avenue, directly across from Byrne Plaza). 

“There was some trial and error. We took a lot of notes on what worked and what didn’t, and now we have a number of changes in the works for next season.”

To go along with the new name and logo, the shop will offer full table service with added indoor and outdoor seating, late-night weekend hours and expanded menu options (including breakfast) in 2024.

The catalyst behind the rebrand, McGuigan explained, was the popularity of a particular menu item, combined with the goal of standing out in the island’s ever-growing culinary scene.

“All summer long, people were commenting on how good our steaks are,” he said. “But many of the same customers told us that they didn’t even know we sold steaks [before they visited] because it wasn’t in the name. That made me start to rethink how we were presenting ourselves.

“Moving forward, I want to really expand on what we’re selling and let everyone know that we’re not some small coffee shop-type of place that’s only open a few hours a day. Paninis are still one of our specialties, but we’re more than just that.”

McGuigan will be adding a “full line of cheesesteaks” and other sandwiches to go along with his signature paninis. This past season’s favorites like the scrapple cheesesteak and 1-lb buffalo chicken sandwich will return, with more options.

“We received great feedback on the portions of our food,” he noted. “We make big sandwiches and a lot of people left with them. So, for many of our menu items, we’re going to offer small and regular size choices. We’re also excited to be adding a full breakfast menu, with some standards and some unique items we’re sure everyone will love.”

The move to table service will oblige those who wish to sit down and enjoy their meals. A new counter is being constructed, to go along with additional seating that will be able to accommodate a total of 32 people inside and 22 customers outside.

For the 2024 season, Shawn’s Cheesesteaks & Paninis will be open Tuesday - Sunday, and will serve customers until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. 

McGuigan said he intends to reopen in early May, operating on weekends until moving to the regular schedule after Memorial Day.

“We’re gearing up for a big second season and can’t wait to show everyone what we have in store,” he said. “We’re also adding a big light-up sign with our new logo [over the entrance] that will be visible for several blocks from either direction. 

“Just another way of saying ‘Hey, we’re here and we hope you stop in!’ We have something for everyone we want to be your go-to sandwich place at the shore.”

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