Imagine coming from a family where your father and uncle are fishermen (this shouldn’t be too hard, especially in South County). As soon as you are old enough to go out to sea you join them. Fishing is often a family business, passed down from one generation to the next, where fishing locations are shared as well as the spoils.
This is the case with brothers Ben and Paul Sumner. Except, after a combined 55 years of fishing experience between them, they decided to put away their fishing nets and open a seafood restaurant, The Sumner Co., in Westerly. “The restaurant is owned and operated by real fishermen,” explains Ben. “We devoted our lives to the sea and catching fish. [Now], we put our hearts and souls into cooking and serving the very best seafood you can eat. We are proud to be seafood specialists.”
Ben and Paul grew up in Narragansett on Great Island. Their lives have been filled with family recipes for clam chowder, lobster and scallop casserole and seafood stuffed mushrooms, to name a few. They’d been talking about opening a restaurant for years and sharing their family recipes. This past May, it finally happened.
As you would expect, the brothers get most of their fish from Point Judith. If it swims in our sea, it’s bound to be on their plates. For other seafood species that don’t live in our waters, like shrimp and king crab, they rely on other fishing ports around the country. What remains the same, no matter where the seafood is sourced, is the brothers’ passion for good food. “Seafood is what we know,” says Ben. “We’ve been eating and cooking it all of our lives. We’ve always thought, ‘wow, everyone should get to taste this.’”
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