Upended by more than $2.4 million in beach-related damages alone last October by Hurricane Sandy, affected Westerly businesses have found creative ways to reopen this summer, though challenges to a full recovery for both the beaches and some businesses remain.
In Misquamicut village, the Andrea Hotel’s 24 rooms were obliterated, but the restaurant kitchen remains. A flourishing, makeshift restaurant has been erected in a walled tent, says owner Michelle Colucci Pinto, and will be incorporated into plans for a rebuilt hotel.
“Our dream is to have our hotel back,” she said.
In the meantime, what used to be front-desk service has transitioned to retail sales of storm memorabilia, including T-shirts and sweatshirts with a storm logo and the declaration, “Mother Nature may knock us down, but we always get back up,” co-owner and sister Rebecca Colucci said.
The wood-framed building that once housed Sam’s Snack Bar along Atlantic Avenue is gone, said business proprietor Norman H. Dufresne, who used to lease the space. In its place, Dufresne outfitted a $95,000, 38-foot mobile trailer with refrigeration equipment. With 12-hour’s notice, he can pick up the latest incarnation of Sam’s and leave if another big storm comes.
And at Maria’s Seaside Café, at the corner of Montauk and Atlantic avenues, owned by the Bellone family, guests are staying in seaside suites above the structurally sound building, but the restaurant itself has been shuttered. The café is targeted, co-owner John Bellone says, for rebuilding in the same spot, not far from the family’s intact 55-room Breezeway Resort Hotel at 70 Winnapaug Road.
“Every year you always expect some kind of a storm,” Bellone said, “but I didn’t think it was going to happen [with Sandy], especially after Irene, when we were relatively unscathed.”
Instead, he recalled seeing Dumpsters shoved whole blocks from their original positions, and barstools and bottles of Italian water floating down Montauk Avenue.