Spot Ice Cream and Seafood Restaurant -
VisitingNewEngland small business partnership
Cream of the Crop: Sandy's Chill Spot Ice Cream and Seafood
Restaurant in Bellingham, Mass.
How this humble little seasonal
ice cream stand has became one of the the most "chill" places for ice
cream and comfort foods in the southwestern fringe of Metro Boston
Specialty sundae: Death By
Chocolate ice cream with Reese's
Pieces, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.
created on 6/30/2020.
England travel article with your friends...
Driving down Pulaski Blvd. in
Bellingham, Mass. will never be mistaken for rush hour in the
At times of the day, vehicles sparsely
populate the long and winding road. Crickets saturate the air at
twilight, metaphorically suggesting there's not a lot to do here
compared to the more densely
populated Woonsocket, R.I. about 10 minutes away. Families
interact in their yards or are out for a walk in the pleasant
occasional business like a lumber yard or a
car repair shop take on the role of an abridged business
district. The air feels fresher and the unassuming vibe almost feels
like the small town ways of Upstate New York rather than a Boston or
All of a sudden, however, a high concentration of cars and people can
be seen in the short distance. Upon closer inspection, that sign of
life gets some delightful clarity: There's a classic ice cream stand
virtually serves as a virtual magnet drawing in many locals driving the
Waiting for ice cream at Sandy's.
Like a rite of passage into the summer, Sandy's Chill Spot Ice
Cream and Seafood
Restaurant just feels so right as a classic ice cream stand. Those
outside the area, most likely, do not know about
Sandy's but should. This special small business seems to hit the
literally and figuratively, with an astonishing variety of ice cream
choices and generous portions of cool treats and comfort foods at
surprisingly low prices. Locally-made "hormone and antibiotic free”,
hand-scooped and soft-serve ice cream and a full grill menu
highlight this delightful meeting point to satisfy comfort food and
sweet tooth cravings
(more on that in detail shortly).
Eye catching sign at Sandy's.
more of an old school, laid back setting where people and ice cream
without obstructions like, say, arcade games, mini golf or
overly-expensive nitrogen-churned artisanal scoops. Well, almost. The
only obstruction would be the huge
ice cream barriers that separate the ice cream stand from the parking
lot. They look almost good enough to eat...
Colorful ice cream barriers can be
seen from far away.
At the forefront of Sandy's, co-owner Nancy Pinheiro sets a tone of
a drive to succeed. She also has fun at work getting to know her
customers and staff on a personal level and with a heaping portion of
kindness and civility as the main course. That staff -- largely
comprised of well-trained, articulate and personable high school and
college kids -- often refers to
Nancy as their "working mom."
"We are like family here," said Nancy. "It's a nice place to work."
Kyriana Smith couldn't agree more.
"I worked there from when I was 16 and it was the best job ever," said
Kyriana. "They are wonderful people."
Nancy's commute often starts at 6:30 a.m. but it's a
short one as
she and boyfriend Steve Tutujian live at the same address as the
business. This scenario reveals a far distant situation from Nancy's
paralegal background and Steve's days as an IT professional, both in
the Boston area.
constant needs for supplies, keeping the business spotlessly clean,
buying seafood locally, going to the bank, working the kitchen, taking
orders at the window and
managing the staff often results in Nancy's days extending to 10 or 11
"Some people sit in their office and crunch numbers but I am at the
window, cooking, cleaning, working with my kids," said Nancy. "We're
all in this
Steve -- who in addition to possessing the IT background -- has
significant experience in
the food and convenience store industries. He
takes care of the much of the behind-the-scenes business including
and Steve have seen their business grow tremendously,
starting in 2003-2004 in Blackstone, Mass. as a tiny ice cream stand
and part-time summer
hobby named after Nancy's dog.
"Nancy and I decided to give it a shot -- our start up budget was
basically $2,700," said Steve. "It was a eight-foot by 24-foot trailer
with no bathroom or a place to sit . We never had money to advertise
during the 14 to 15 years in Blackstone. I only ran a three week ad in
paper, that's it. We built it the hard way through word of mouth and
passing out fliers."
Steve and Nancy, however, wanted more than just one scoop of the
American Dream. They ultimately envisioned going far beyond owning a
"Growing up, I
watched my grandfather run his business which was located
in the same building as his house," said Steve. "I always wanted to own
my own house with the business on site.
We worked hard and saved and finally in 2010 we purchased the home in
Bellingham which is a dream come true. That year, I decided to give the
business to Nancy and continue working my IT business and property
management. It took us two years to do repairs and we opened for
business in Bellingham in 2012. When people visit Sandy’s, they are
actually visiting our home so we treat them as so. They are not just
visiting a business."
Now they are seeing the fruits of their labor starting to pay off in
the form of an American Dream success
story. With more ice cream flavors, introducing a
food menu and seeing the "build it and they will come" phrase turn into
a reality, Steve and Nancy see locals making it their "go to" place
the foods and desserts that America loves best.
Strawberry Hurricane sundae with
strawberries and layers of soft serve twist ice cream and vanilla
"My family goes there ALL the time!" said Dale Arnold, host of NHL
Boston Bruins games on NESN, co-host
of Dale and Keefe on WEEI radio
Boston and author of "If These Walls Could Talk: Boston Bruins."
"My favorite ice
cream place!" said Lisa Whalen. "They're always
friendly and quite generous, you certainly get your money's worth. Want
a special order, they take that order with a smile and no problem.
Their service is consistent, it's always good always friendly and the
ice cream is always smooth and delicious."
Ordering At The Window, Anticipating The Yumminess
Banana split from Sandy's. Photo credit: Sandy's Chill Spot.
Many ice cream stands serve an impressive variety of hard and soft
serve ice cream but after that, there's often a quick drop off in
Sandy's, on the other hand, takes that hard and soft serve menu to a
completely different level with one of the most comprehensive menus of
its genre in
eastern Massachusetts. And with huge servings and great value for the
Enough ice cream for the day. Photo
credit: Sandy's Ice Cream.
Let's take a look at what a customer would first see and then what
follows starting with the order windows...
Ordering ice cream at the window.
The hard ice cream menu does cover all the basics and far beyond with
Ice cream menu.
The traditional and flavored soft serve ice cream selections, along
with sherbet and Dole Whip fat-free frozen yogurt, suggest the end of
the ice cream menu will not be happening any time soon...
The many soft serve ice cream
That soft serve menu is not exactly soft. Sandy's also serves more than
80 flavors of vegan-friendly Froconut
soft-serve, coconut-flavored frozen gelato. It's 100 percent dairy and
lactose-free with no refined sugar, soy or gluten.
Graduating to the next step in this wonderland of ice cream splendor,
you could order a different sundae every day day of the week at Sandy's
Sundaes galore at Sandy's Chill Spot.
Hurricane sundaes create the perfect storm with a base of soft serve
layers of candies, fruit, hot fudge, peanut butter sauce (depending on
what you order) and a topping of whipped cream...
Hurricanes lend the typical sundae a
Customer also have the chance to enjoy a little breakfast at Sandy's in
the form of cereal-based ice cream concoctions. The Brady Bunch never
had it this good...
Cereal mixed with ice cream, a
Sandy's also serves frappes and floats, slushies and
ice, as well as offering cone dips, waffle cones and bowls for any of
its ice cream flavors...
Variety is clearly the spice of life
Pet owners can
also rejoice: Sandy's offers treats for the faithful, four-legged
Something for pets, too.
In addition to
the locally homemade
ice cream served at Sandy's,
Nancy also makes her own flavors including Caramel Crunch -- a caramel
base flavored ice
cream with Heath candy pieces and butterscotch swirl. Dazed and
Confused is a vanilla-based ice cream with cookie dough, brownie
chunks, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces toppings.
A seasonal fall favorite created by Nancy: Carrot Cake with vanilla
bean ice cream, carrot cake, cream cheese
frosting and a vanilla base swirl with chunks of carrot cake. Boston
Pie is the other flavor featured in the
fall. This unique ice cream possesses a custard ice cream base with
pieces of Boston cream pie and a chocolate frosting swirl. The M&M
ice cream offers M&M flavored ice cream with M&M candy in it
and a chocolate swirl.
Sandy's also makes its own Italian ice, water
ice , sorbet, frosty paws and more.
One of the great
hidden treasures at Sandy's: the stuffed ice with a mix
of soft serve ice cream and Italian ice. It's absolutely delicious the
way the creamy soft serve combines with flavorful ice cream. Here is
the mango stuffed Italian ice...
Stuffed Italian Ice
Meals to Go With Your Ice Cream
offers customers the chance to eat a meal before
dessert with its full grill menu including hot dogs, cheeseburgers,
chicken tenders, grilled cheese, onion rings and fries.
Hot dogs from Sandy's. Photo source: Sandy's Facebook page.
Nancy and Steve wisely buy most of their seafood locally. After
all, this is New England, the capital of great seafood! On Fridays,
offer a fish and chips plate, fried belly clam platter, clam cakes and
New England white clam chowder. And on any day of the week, selections
like the Seafood Sampler rival
the best of fried seafood in New England with calamari, shrimp and clam
strips but at a much cheaper price
($11.73, at this writing)...
That Friday special fish and chips is such a big hit, they are
often sold out early in the day.
"The fish and chips almost always sell out by 2," said Nancy.
Fish and chips from Sandy's. Photo source:
Sandy's Facebook page.
The fish and
chips were inspired by a family friend.
"My father had this family friend who owned a deli in East Providence,"
said Nancy, a Pawtucket, R.I. native. "We knew his fish and chips were
really good. I didn't even like fish and chips but ate his and really
He made them for 40 years and I followed up on the way he made them.
While Nancy doesn't have a background in cooking, her love for creating
food eventually evolved.
"Growing up, I was never involved with cooking with my mom," said
Nancy. "I was more interested in dad stuff like cars, boats, things in
the garage. Mom always said I liked 'kitchen stuff' but I really didn't
get into it until going to college and having my own apartment."
Nancy worked hard to excel in the profession with help from Steve (and
vice versa) and sticking to uncomplicated, common sense styles of
"I try to make
food the way I would want to eat," said Nancy. "Keep it simple. Less is
No Good Ice Cream Deed Ever Goes Unnoticed
Nancy and Steve will talk first about the love they have for
their business, the customers and the ice cream and food but it should
also be known that the local media has repeatedly recognized Sandy's as
"best of" destination. Good small business practices should never go
unnoticed so check out the accolades Sandy's has received, to date...
2017 Voted #1 for ice cream and seafood in Bellingham, Wicked
Local Readers Choice Award
2017 Silver regional favorite for ice cream ( 15 towns), Wicked
Local Readers Choice Award
2018 Voted #1 for ice cream and seafood in Bellingham, Wicked
Local Readers Choice Award
2018 Gold regional favorite for ice cream ( 15 towns), Wicked
Local Readers Choice Award
2019 Voted #1 for ice cream and seafood in Bellingham, Wicked
Local Readers Choice Award
2019 Bronze regional favorite for ice cream ( 15 towns), Wicked
Local Readers Choice Award
2019 Restaurant Guru Best in the City Fast Food
2019- 2020 Best of Bellingham Award, by the Bellingham Award Program
2019 Yelp Award People Love Us on Yelp Award
Waffle cone sundae from
Sandy's. Photo source: Sandy's
The initial culture
shock of Steve and Nancy moving from the big city and its career
opportunities to the peace, quiet and relative solitude of a semi-rural
suburb just goes to show that taking chances and following the heart
can pay off in meaningful ways. They could have opted for IT and
paralegal careers with potential for big salaries. Instead, Steve and
Nancy chose a simpler life and chance to connect with a close-knit
community through their own business.
Lines form at the order window. Photo
credit: Sandy's Chill Spot.
It's not just about the ice cream and comfort foods at Sandy's. Nancy
and Steve truly care about peoples' happiness and fostering a civil,
healthy atmosphere. On the happy side: Around Halloween, Sandy's gives
away free ice cream a few days before closing for the season. It is
Steve and Nancy's show of gratitude for customer support for the
seasonal business. On the civil, healthy side: Steve and Nancy put up a
reminder sign for parents to be mindful of their kids behavior, as well
as setting up cleaning stations for people to use after sitting at the
picnic tables -- a vital necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, or any
other time for that matter. Sandy's is also in complete compliance with
state and federal business guidelines regarding the pandemic.
"We ran our business one way for 15 years and had to change everything
in one month," said Nancy, in regards to the Coronavirus changing life
as we once knew it. "We were able to, however, and things are working
A friendly reminder.
Taking a cue from America's obsession with ice cream as the great
unifier, Sandy's today thrives as a happy place for small business
owners, their staff and customers. It just goes to show that the main
road driven to arrive at initial career dreams can lead to back roads
that yield the greatest satisfaction. Pulaski Blvd. is the back road
that twisted and turned for many years before Steve and Nancy found
their new home, career niche and blessed lives. The folks in the
Bellingham area are clearly the beneficiaries and with ice cream to
sweeten the scenario that much more.
"Sandy’s Chill Spot is always a favorite during the summertime!" said
Tim Collalto. "Great food, tons of options for comfort foods, and
delicious ice cream. Customer service has never disappointed!"
S'mores Hurricane with twist
soft serve ice cream.
is also a strong believer in Sandy's Chill Spot.
"Sandy's has exceptional service, a vast array of ice cream options and
are conscientious of patrons with allergies," said Kara. "As a mom of a
child with a severe peanut allergy, I am grateful we have a place to go
that takes the precautionary measures to make my daughter feel safe and
Nancy summarizes the Sandy's Chill Spot experience in a simple but
powerfully stated way.
"Good food, good ice cream, good customer service -- that's enough to
have people come back," said Nancy. "I feel good about what we
accomplished and that we can make so many people happy."
Chill Spot Ice Cream & Seafood Restaurant is
located at 800 Pulaski Blvd. in Bellingham, MA. Tel. 508-348-9478.
Web site: https://www.sandysicecream.com/ (includes placing
orders online options)
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sandys.Ice.Cream.Bellingham/
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/sandyschillspot/
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