A few weeks ago we stopped in at Misquamicut Sandwich Company for our Lunch To Go series. It was our first visit and it was love at first bite. We recently stopped back in and had a chance to sit down and talk with Bill Beattie, owner and chef.
Beattie started his culinary journey at the age of twelve as a dishwasher at the original Ocean House Hotel. He continued on to Johnson & Wales, worked front and back of house positions in Hawaii and California and, after returning to Westerly, wanted to have his own space. When the location became available he knew it was his time. Located eleven minutes from downtown Westerly and only seven from the Post Road area, MSC is well worth the drive.
Starting their fourth season, MSC is open from the first weekend in March through Christmas. Serving breakfast and lunch, you can eat in or take it to go. With a core menu in place, specials are offered every day and utilize local ingredients as often as possible. If you follow them on Facebook you can find specials posted daily. MSC also caters out providing the location has a kitchen. Beattie credits MSC’s success with the great crew he has working with him. With three to seven people behind the counter depending on the season, the aim is to get sandwiches to customers as fast as possible. Beattie knows that many of his regulars stop in to get lunch on the way to their next job. He says “if you are sitting here for ten minutes that is too long. We are quick, but we are not a five dollar foot long sort of place.” So while you won’t get a generic roll stuffed to the brim with meat that is, to the consumer, untraceable, you will get a lovely sandwich full of flavor and local ingredients. Inside tip: You can call ahead to place your order!
When asked why using local ingredients was important to him Beattie did not hesitate to answer- “Because it is food from where you are. It’s keeping local people working and using food from your environment. There is nothing organic about something that travelled from Costa Rica. What is the carbon footprint on that?” Beattie sources as many local products as possible. Using Greenview Farm, Hill and Dale, and Watch Hill Farm to name a few- he says they all have great stuff. He also has his own gardens. Westerly Food was amazed to learn that Beattie makes his own maple syrup and honey for use in the restaurant. It doesn’t get more locally sourced than that.
While seeing everyone and having a full restaurant is part of the highlight of the summer season, MSC is open long before (and after) the summer rush. On the day we were there we were impressed with the regulars who came in one after another to pick up lunches or eat in. Watch Hill resident Larus Shields has two favorites- the Korean Pork and the Cuban. Admitting he sometimes stops in twice a day, Shields was impressed with the way in which MSC sources local ingredients. “They pride themselves on using fresh, organic ingredients” Shields said before he went on to tell me “they make the best sandwiches in town.”
Before opening MSC Beattie spent a bit of time traveling so that he could surf. During his travels he became inspired by the quality of food. Inspired by Frosty Hesson, a surfing legend in California, he became interested in grains and whole foods. Hesson’s love of healthy food helped form Beattie’s food philosophy. According to Beattie, “there are people who eat for food and people who eat for fuel. When you do eat out- eat well.”
After speaking with Beattie and sampling delicious sandwiches, soups and salads all I could think of was the question posed in Robert M. Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “What is Quality?” And while I will refrain from taking you on a philosophical journey- I can say that sort of Zen moment of finding Pirsig’s Quality with an upper case Q exists in the food served at Misquamicut Sandwich Company. It is so much more than the food. It is the pure heart and soul of the place and, more importantly, the people.
Misquamicut Sandwich Company is open from 8-3 Monday-Saturday. They are located at 57 Shore Road in Westerly.