Calmer Choice, non-profit organization in Barnstable, Massachusetts Calmer Choice, non-profit organization in Barnstable, Massachusetts

Business Alliance Partner: Seafood Sam’s

Jeff and Mike Lewis are the owners of the Seafood Sam’s restaurants on Cape Cod located in Falmouth and Sandwich operating now in their 46th season. It is no wonder that locals and tourists alike favor Seafood Sam’s as they serve the very best local seafood, with the most friendly and fast service all while keeping their offerings at reasonable prices. Recently we had a zoom interview and learned why they support Calmer Choice as a Business Alliance Partner and what makes them tick!

Jeff and Mike, tell us about yourselves and a brief history of how you got into the restaurant service industry. Are you native Cape Codders? How long have you owned Seafood Sam’s?

We are definitely native Cape Codders going back all the way to the Mayflower. We started in the industry early as teenagers, working for Sam, the original owner of Seafood Sam’s. We bought the restaurants from Sam officially in 1994. It’s in our blood.

How did you first learn about Calmer Choice and why do you support our mission?

Jeff met Fiona and her husband Bob, who is a Calmer Choice instructor, while practicing yoga. Once we learned about Calmer Choice, we started to support the organization because we like to support what we consider “the underdogs”, kids who are struggling. We like the underdogs because growing up, that was who we were. Coming from a troubled childhood, we didn’t have anything close to what support services look like now in 2020. We had a difficult home-life and it had an impact on us and the choices we made. We both struggled with addiction and then found recovery. Now we make an effort to direct our personal and business philanthropic giving to organizations that support recovery and services that help kids start off and keep on the right paths or help teens and adults get back on the right paths.

Addiction can impact anyone, but the ones closest to our hearts are the teens and young adults. We try to support them as they recover by hiring them in our restaurants and setting a good example that recovery is possible and you can thrive in it.

Jeff and Mike Lewis
Jeff and Mike Lewis, owners of Seafood Sam’s restaurants

It must be so incredibly busy during the peak summer season. How do you take care of yourselves during this time?

We have been doing this our whole lives, we don’t know any other way but to work 13 hours a day. We don’t really get to enjoy Cape Cod summers like other Cape Codders do, our lives during the summer are the restaurants and supporting the staff.

[Jeff]: I go up to my spot in Maine and chop wood. We went to Hawaii and my son lived in Seattle, so we would go visit him in Washington State. My other son and his wife launched the Seafood Sam’s food truck this summer out in the Sandwich location parking lot and despite the pandemic it did well. The truck makes appearances at Cape Cod Beer and has been going to a few Council on Aging locations. It’s nice because a lot of the elderly haven’t been able to get out during the pandemic and the food is brought to them.

[Mike]: I like to take off and ride on my Harley (motorcycle). Jeff likes to dig into projects. We will shut for a bit and he is right in there ripping things apart and building. I try to take some time and travel a bit to warm spots.

What was it like operating a restaurant this summer during the pandemic?

To start, a lot our usual international staff couldn’t come here and work on the crew. We ended up hiring more high school students which hasn’t been the case in recent seasons past. This summer teens weren’t able to hang out with their friends, play sports and do the normal summer things and instead they were working.

Sometimes it was tough. Many of the customers were respectful of having to wear masks and distance themselves but then you had a few who were upset about it and that attitude impacted us. We give the staff credit because they were resilient and impressed us. It could have been a disaster and it was one of the best summers we’ve had.

[Mike]: In Falmouth, we are located right near the Martha’s Vineyard ferry, so Friday nights people are coming in excited, happy, and ready to drop money. Come Sunday, these same people are in and they’re miserable because they had to spend so much money on the island. The staff really feels it on Sunday. I’m proud of the crew, they impressed me.

[Jeff]: We’ve been doing this a long time and going in it felt like we were the Bad News Bears-a lot of newbies, but the staff really pulled it off and we had a banner summer.

What is your favorite item that you recommend on your menus?

The seafood platter for two! It’s our signature dish because it gives you a really nice taste of all our seafood and it’s a nice-looking plate.

What are your favorite beaches on Cape Cod?

(Both Jeff and Mike laugh). We don’t go to the beaches! We’re working instead.

Any parting words you would like to share about your experience in supporting Calmer Choice?

We are proud to support Calmer Choice. It’s important that kids have programs that teach them skills like mindful awareness. It’s important for adults too.