The end of an era at the Narragansett Café
Dan Alexander, 51, the owner of the Narragansett Café for over twenty years with his brother Tom, is throwing "The Last Waltz" Christmas party at the "Narry" on Dec. 16 for the "changing of the watch," as he calls it. The gala party and jam session will feature 13 to 15 bands, all of which have played at the famous nightspot at one time or another over the last two decades. "They'll play a set apiece, and then jam together however they want," Alexander said. "The party will probably last all day."
The details will be posted on the Internet at www.narragansettcafe. com, Alexander said.
Alexander would not name a favorite band. "There were so many," he said. "The ones that are foremost in my mind are the guys who became close personal friends. I'll never forget them. Dave Howard and the High Rollers, Jack Smith and the Rockabilly Planet. They were all great. Dave Howard is with A Room Full of Blues now. And I can't forget James Montgomery. After they got off the bandstand, they were just regular people. They are all so talented, and humble at the same time. I know I'll miss 'em," Alexander said.
Last week, Alexander sold the Jamestown landmark to longtime friend John Recca, 48, a Jamestown resident. "It happened fast," Alexander said. "My brother Tom and I made the decision to sell a few weeks ago in November. After the fire in 2005 we had offers, but didn't accept any of them. When we decided to put it on the market in November, I felt that I owed John the opportunity because he mentioned years ago that he'd love to buy it if we ever decided to sell.
"I found him working on his house. He's been renovating for the last couple of years. I asked if he was still interested, and he said 'sure.' We made a deal and last week we shook hands. That was it," Alexander said. "It didn't take any time at all."
Recca said "All the staff that wants to stay will remain." It worked out that all four full-timers as well as four part-timers don't want to leave. Alexander's girlfriend of 20 years, Lynn Sisson, will stay on as manager.
Recca said that everything will stay "pretty much the same. We'll feature a café menu with burgers, sandwiches, salads and chowder. And we'll continue to book good entertainment."
Alexander said that the actual "change of the watch" will happen in the last couple of weeks of January, "after we go before the Town Council. We missed the deadline for the December agenda, so we have to wait until January," he said.
Alexander originally hails from Huntington, New York, on Long Island. He and his older brother, Tom, both graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy as marine engineers. Dan graduated from college in 1978 and then worked as an engineer. He moved to Jamestown in 1982.
The brothers bought the café from Rick Santos, son of the original owner, in 1986. Dan says it was his brother's idea. Neither had ever been in the restaurant or club business before.
Over the years, Dan says he ran the 'hands on' side of things while his brother took care of the paperwork and business side. Dan managed to keep up his career as a marine engineer by working as a second engineer on research vessels like the Atlantic Explorer and the University of Rhode Island's boat the Endeavor, a 187-foot ship.
"Whenever the first engineers couldn't make a trip or needed a vacation, they'd call me," Alexander said. "It worked out well. I'd go out for a month or so and Lynn would take care of the café. Then I'd come back and catch up on things until the next trip to sea."
Alexander says he likes to travel and enjoys working on ships. "I also have a wooden, 40-foot Hereshoff ketch that has been sitting in my backyard for seven years. I'd like to get her back in the water now that I have the time," he said.
John Recca and his wife Cathy had a 25-year career in the fi- nance industry before moving to Jamestown. He thinks it's a little too early to really retire and looks forward to running the café.