Chances are if you’ve spent any time at Misquamicut, you’ve at least heard of the Andrea. One of the premier dining establishments located directly on the beach, the full-service restaurant offers delicious apps and entrees along with fun cocktails and plenty of entertainment to make your days and nights at the beach all the more magical.
Originally built in 1912 and run as a bed and breakfast, with shared bathrooms for guests, the Andrea was purchased by Ralph Colucci in 1946 who converted into a hotel over time and expanded the restaurant by adding the bar. Ralph’s son Leonard and daughter-in-law Judy took over the operation in the early 1980s.
“It’s always been a family business,” Judy said. “Even when we had other careers, the Andrea has always been a big part of our lives.” Leonard and Judy’s daughters Rebecca Colucci and Michelle Pinto became co-owners in the early 2000s and have been running it ever since.
A century after the Andrea’s construction, Hurricane Sandy wiped out most of Misquamicut’s beaches and businesses in 2012, inflicting extensive damage to the hotel and bar’s structure. After cleaning up and assessing the damage and the best options for the future, the Colucci family decided against re-building the hotel but instead focusing on the restaurant and bar.
“We miss getting to know our hotel guests so well, but we still have our regulars who found their way back and some who only discovered us afterwards,” Rebecca shared. “The hurricane helped to teach us to not be afraid of change, but to embrace it instead.”
The new set up of a sturdy oceanfront tent with plenty of outdoor seating on the deck has been well-received, especially because it allowed the beloved bar to reopen in time for the following season and resume summertime business as usual.
Standing in the middle of the deck is the original fireplace from the hotel’s main lobby, a beloved tribute of the past and a reminder that everything old can be made new again. Sam Cillino of Westerly’s own Cillino Masonry had been tending to the Andrea’s fireplace since he first began his business and was the one to move it to its new spot on the deck and make the necessary adjustments and renovations to make it outdoor ready.
“We didn’t know if it would survive, but it did and now we light it every night in the summer, and people love it,” Rebecca said. “It’s been a really great addition to the flavor of the place and gives it a campfire vibe.”
That first season back in action following the hurricane was certainly one for the books, but Rebecca and Judy both shared that every season shares a similar sense of excitement and novelty.
“You’re kind of opening up a new restaurant every year. We keep some staple food on the menu that everyone loves but we also try out new items every summer,” Rebecca explained.
The Andrea keeps its nightlife busy with DJs spinning on Wednesday-Saturday evenings, bringing in live bands for the patio on Sunday afternoons, and then hosting open mic beach jams on Sunday nights after 8 p.m.
“People can bring their own instruments – it’s kind of like karaoke for musicians,” Judy explained. Kids are welcome to join in, and for many young musicians, this is a great way to experiment and gain performance experience in a fun and forgiving environment. New this year will be Beach Bingo, held on Monday and Tuesday nights from 10pm-midnight and featuring loads of cool prizes like shirts, hats, coolers, and keychains.
“With a seasonal business, you want to try and utilize every moment possible,” Rebecca said.
Many of the Andrea’s staff members wind up staying year after year, adding to the family environment that’s always been at the heart of the Andrea.
“Westerly is a unique spot, and we’re very fortunate to have a family run business in a small town. We’ll meet new staff members but they already have a sense of belonging here, because their father or grandfather worked here years before,” Rebecca said. “It’s almost like a rite of passage for some people,” Judy added.
The support the Colucci family and their family of employees receives in return from the community has helped keep the business and spirits afloat even in the hardest times or just when the weather hasn’t caught up to the season quite yet.
“It’s so good to see those familiar faces every year, and they’ll come by opening weekend and say things like ‘who cares if it’s raining, the Andrea is open and summer is finally here!’” Judy laughed.
So even if we haven’t hit our first heatwave yet, know that there’s a place for you at the Andrea Beach Bar and they’ll be so glad to see you! Stop by, stick your toes in the sand, and dive into a delicious cocktail while you enjoy some tunes on the ocean mixed with the crashing waves mere feet away. It’s always the right time to enjoy Misquamicut.