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Alterations Are Coming to Main Street

Lighthouse restaurant

WELLFLEET — The Lighthouse Restaurant, a bright spot for 40 years on this town’s dimming Main Street, is gone. What was a restaurant is now being renovated to become a new location for the women’s clothing store Ragg Time.

Concern about the future of what had been one of the few year-round eating places here mounted last spring when the restaurant failed to open for the season. With a future for the space finally coming into view, many townspeople say they long for an opportunity to reminisce.

For years, Wellfleet’s Moe Barocas and Brent Harold met at the Lighthouse with friends on Monday nights to catch up.

“It was such an important place for town,” Barocas said. “and it was sad to see it end.”

Everyone knew the Lighthouse for its blueberry muffins. “There would always be a line outside in the morning,” Barocas said. “It was the place to go for breakfast.”

The restaurant’s menu and atmosphere appealed to a wide swath of locals, especially during the off season. That’s when Barocas, the longtime former owner of the children’s toy and clothing store Abiyoyo, most enjoyed the place. “You’d see this wonderful array of people,” he said. “You’d see what made Wellfleet Wellfleet — old ladies with blue hair talking with fishermen who looked like pirates.”

Harold, a columnist for the Cape Cod Times, said that Main Street is “missing a tooth in its smile. You really notice it’s not there.”

The Lighthouse’s owner, Joe Wanco, died on Aug. 27, at age No obituary was published following his death. Wanco is survived by his wife, Laura, and children, Michelle and Jodie.

The family did not respond to the Independent’s repeated requests for comment.

Ragg Time owner Jeanie Bessette confirmed on Saturday that her clothing store will move into the Lighthouse’s space at Main Street.

Bessette said that the Wanco family had grown tired of having a restaurant. After trying to sell the business — Bessette said that the high cost of renovation dissuaded potential buyers — “the best solution for the family was to have rental income coming in.”

Bessette has signed a lease to rent the space, although she’s still unsure when Ragg Time will move in. “They put up paper in the windows,” she said. “Even I don’t know what’s going on inside yet.” The bar will be removed, she said, and the kitchen will be converted to office space.

Lynn McDermott, owner of V.I.P. Real Estate, had listed the restaurant for the family. She told the Independent that the second floor of the building will remain an apartment, and the basement will continue to house BOL, a café with acai bowls.

The Lighthouse’s alcohol license will return to the pool to be awarded by the select board to another business, said Wellfleet principal clerk Jeanne Maclauchlan.

The Lighthouse’s closing continues a trend in which fewer stores are staying open year-round, and locals are feeling it. “So much of the entrepreneurial energy in town is focused on summer,” Harold said, recalling a time when it seemed the town was “here more for itself.” The Lighthouse, he said, “was part of that.”

The restaurant’s meals were welcome for their affordability if not always for their quality.“They were kind of known for having bad food,” said Harold, “but for five bucks, you could get a really good pot roast or half a chicken.”

The Lighthouse began when two college friends — Joe Wanco and Robert Derow — moved to the Cape with their young families in the mids, Harold said. Derow retired from the business in the early s, leaving Wanco in charge.

In recent years, the Lighthouse was closed in the dead of winter. According to town documents, Wanco asked to change his annual liquor license to a seasonal license in In early April the Wanco family announced the restaurant would be closing but were reticent about saying what might happen next.

Bessette, who has lived in Wellfleet for 52 years and run Ragg Time for 35 years, told the Independent she has always dreamed of moving to Main Street. As renovations are moving slowly, she does not yet know when she will be moving in. “There are some loose ends that need to be tied up before we can get in there,” she said.

Though happy about the opportunity, Bessette understands that the closing of the Lighthouse comes with some sadness. “I know a lot of people are upset that it’s not going to remain a restaurant,” Bessette said. “But I’m feeling good that someone local, who’s been in business here for years, is moving in.”

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The Lighthouse Restaurant

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The following information is available for The Lighthouse Restaurant:

Located at the center of Wellfleet Ma, we are a family owned restaurant hosting excellent parties, great food. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner

friendly neighborhood eatery welcoming local community and Wellfleet visitors. Offering homemade, New England fare, pub comforts foods and fine dinners. Plus a full bar, and 20 draft beers with many Cape made products. Kid's menu and daily specials. Come alone, bring a friend or your whole family.

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The Lighthouse Restaurant can be found at the following address:

Main St


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The following food styles are available at The Lighthouse Restaurant:

American, Seafood

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Lot, Street

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With that Red Sox win, that’s also a wrap in our season. Thank you to both loyal customers and hard working staff. See you in April.


The plan is to stay open thru the World Series. If there’s a game 7, that would be Oct


Oyster fest weekend. Breakfast starts at 8 am. Bar closes at 1am. Tons of fun in the middle.


Tonight’s Live Music is our pals, The Sacred Mounds. Their bringing an extra friend, too. See you at 10


Plan your weekend now: Friday Night: Funktapuss Saturday: 3rd place World Cup game 10am Prime Rib Dinner 5 pm Sunday: World Cup final Croatia v. France 11 am


Open for Breakfast every day at 8 am.




Tomorrow, Friday June 8 Sacred Mounds First show of the year


BREAKFAST MENU is ready. Door opens 8 am tomorrow.


Memorial Day weekend


Game 6. tonight. pm Breakfast. Tomorrow. 8am

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Another typical 60 seconds at the old LH. Cape Harmony. All chicks A Cappella.


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Lighthouse Restaurant

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Lighthouse Restaurant

If you're craving some American food in Wellfleet, then you've come to the right place! Lighthouse Restaurant is known for being an outstanding American restaurant. They offer multiple other cuisines including Seafood, American, and Family Style.

In comparison to other American restaurants, Lighthouse Restaurant is reasonably priced.

Looking for other top American restaurants in Wellfleet? More popular places to try are P J's Family Restaurant, Pearl Restaurant, or Moby Dick's Restaurant. If you don't mind traveling a bit, we can also recommend more great places to eat American food in nearby cities. Just give Kevin's Seafood and Spirits in South Yarmouth, Osterville Fish Too in Barnstable or Oyster Co in Dennis Port a try. Make sure to come back and leave a review at about what you liked and any recommendations for other users in our community!

After your meal at Lighthouse Restaurant, don't forget that Wellfleet has a ton of amazing restaurants to try. Come back to and find tons of great American restaurants in Wellfleet, pizza in Wellfleet, or family style restaurants in Wellfleet.

Don't forget to tell your friends how your experience went at Lighthouse Restaurant in Wellfleet by leaving a review here at!


Wellfleet menu lighthouse

Golfers walk across a green golf course against the backdrop of a tall lighthouse with scaffolding around it.

Due to impacts from COVID, lighthouses within Cape Cod National Seashore are closed to the public during summer Visitors are welcome to visit the grounds and view the buildings from outside.

There are several lighthouses within Cape Cod National Seashore, reminding us of the Outer Cape's strong connection to the sea. Some of the lighthouses are maintained by partners, such as the Nauset Light Preservation Society and Eastern National. These organizations open the lighthouses to the public seasonally, and also provide the necessary maintenance to ensure that the lights shine brightly and are open to the public long into the future.

Highland Light, Truro:The Highland Light tower will be closed for major structural repairs until Work includes masonry restoration; drainage system improvements; and repairs to windows, stairs, and decks. The grounds will remain open during construction, providing outstanding views of the Atlantic and the opportunity to see historic preservation work in action. Operated by Eastern National.

Nauset Light, Eastham: Open several times a week from spring through fall. Operated by Nauset Light Preservation Society.

Three Sisters Lights, Eastham: Open for tours periodically from spring through fall.

Pick up a copy of the seasonal activity guide at a visitor center for tour days and times.

Race Point, Wood End, and Long Point lights in Provincetown are accessed by walking over sand. The Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation operates Race Point Light, and occasionally hosts open houses with free transportation to the light. Wood End and Long Point lights are not open to the public.

Wednesday Service - 10/20 @ 7PM Lighthouse Christian Church

Lighthouse Restaurant


Cuisine: Seafood, American, Breakfast, Brunch
Neighborhood: Wellfleet
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By Ed Staskus

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got, ‘till it’s gone.”  Joni Mitchell

Starting early in April, lights start coming back on in stores inns restaurants and businesses of all kinds on the Outer Cape. Hiring ramps up for cooks, waiters, waitresses, cashiers, retail associates, merchandisers, front desk agents, landscaping, cleaning services, and even at local airports parking and fueling aircraft.

Even though snowfall is uncommon on Cape Cod, whatever there is of it melts as the weather suddenly gets warmer. Purple-blue hyacinths and bright yellow daffodils start to open. In Wellfleet, where almost everything closes down for the winter, almost everything opens up again in the spring.

Except when it doesn’t.

Early in April Joe Wanco and his family, wife Laura and daughters Michelle and Jodie, made it known that their iconic Lighthouse Restaurant in a midth century building in the middle of town on Main Street would not be opening for the season spring summer and fall.

“After many years, many employees, many building renovations, many blueberry muffins, pints of beer, and Boston sports championships, it has been decided it is in the best interest of the family that we no longer operate as a business. This is not a decision made overnight or without extensive consideration. Forty years is a long time and even longer in restaurant years.”

“Oh, man, this is sad,” said Molly MacGregor.

“This is worse than closing down Town Hall,” said Steve Curley.

“I want to scream, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” screamed Heidi Gertsen-Scheck.

Forty years in the dining room trade is like four hundred in dog years. It’s a challenge. If you like falling pushing jumping off the deep end, watering holes are for you.

Even if your menu is coherent and priced appropriately, and the tables are set nice and neat, and the ambience is what your customers like, if the customer service goes sour, customers will remember. Even if management is on top of orders, sales goals, and labor costs, if they don’t notice nobody is asking for slimehead fillets, and don’t take it off the menu, they’re stuck with a freezer full of slimehead. Even if the grub is outstanding, the staff trained and ready to go, if you’re slow marketing your restaurant, you end up with a half-empty restaurant.

“You’ve had a great run,” said Jim Clarke, who owned the Lighthouse from to “I still have memories and nightmares from those years. I wish I had a nickel for all the muffins I made.”

The Lighthouse was a local seafood eatery, with arguably the best oyster stew between Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, a local sports bar and grill where the Patriots Red Sox Celtics ruled the roost on the flat screens, and a local dive bar with two dollar cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Cape Cod bands livening up the joint year after year.

“Main Street won’t be the same,” said Donna Adams McCaffery.

“You guys have been a bedrock of this community,” said Sam Greene.

“We started almost every vacation in Wellfleet at the Lighthouse, starting in when my now husband met my family there for our vacation-starting breakfast,” said Laura Kaspar Wardwell.

Six American presidents came and went, while another has been out to lunch, in the time since the Wanco’s landed on Main Street. Townspeople and tourists grew up with the Lighthouse. Some were born and had to find out for themselves.

“I grew up with stories about the Lighthouse before I even knew what it was,” said Amy St. John Ramsdell.

“Our five children grew up having breakfast at the Lighthouse every Sunday after mass,” said Jodi Lyn Deitsch-Malcynsky. “Your family was always inviting and gracious and fun! Our summers in Wellfleet will be forever changed.”

“I remember parking my bicycle out front and coming in for a Cherry Coke or hot chocolate,” said Matt Frazier, years before he became their trash hauler and recycler. “An extra special thank-you for always treating our crew with snacks and beverages during and after Oyster Festival.”

The menu wasn’t the biggest buffet catalogue in the world, and the prices weren’t an arm and a leg, even though the plates were chock-full, but the always hot food was more than good, often very good.

“The best scallops in the world, as good as Digby, Nova Scotia,” said a man from Boston. “What’s more to say?”

“I can’t say enough about the Cod Ruben,” said a man from Westfield. “They have a great selection of beer. The service is awesome.”

“They happened to have lobster dinners on a special, super fresh and tender,” said a woman from Worthington. “They were the best lobster dinners we had all summer.”

The Lighthouse was the only restaurant on the Outer Cape without a front door, two side doors, and plenty of windows to sit at and watch the world go by. “Here’s to missing the big picture,” one man said to another, sitting at the bar one September morning, over hearty breakfasts and Bloody Mary’s, their backs to the window. The bar sat about a dozen and the front room and side room tables sat forty or fifty. The floors are hardwood. There is a large skylight in the beamed tilted ceiling of the side dining room. It isn’t a small place, but it isn’t a big place, either.  It was always lively and got even more lively at night.

“When I was younger it was our breakfast place,” said John Denninger. “As I grew older it was my place to get a drink. When I decided to move here you made it feel like home. I could not have found a better place to hang out.”

A red and white replica of the red and white Nauset lighthouse sits straight and true on the flat roof of the front room. “The lighthouse does great service, yet it is the slave of those who trim the lamps,” observed the writer Alice Rollins. It doesn’t go looking for passing ships in the night. It just stands there with the big bright light on. Lighthouses are always lighthouses in somebody’s storm.

The Wanco’s came from northern New Jersey in the late s. They partnered with a friend of theirs in the restaurant “to have their hand at a small business in a seaside town in an expression of their own American dream.”  Their partner retired ten years ago, but the Wanco’s kept the lights on, carrying on. “It left just our family to provide a watering hole, meeting place, warm meal, cold beer, loud music, local gossip, friendly banter, and a smiling face.”

Besides everything else, who wants to lose a smiling face?

“Ah, Jaysus,” said Jenifer Good. “It’s too much!”

Owning and operating a restaurant isn’t the same as going to work. It’s more like work. Many people start work by checking their e-mails. So do many restaurateurs. Many people check their e-mails all day. Most restaurateurs don’t. They don’t have time. There are too many other things to do.

After they’ve turned on the lights and checked their mail in the morning they do a walk-through of the restaurant, note what needs to be cleaned repaired replaced, start receiving orders, start food production, say hello to arriving cooks and staff, last minute scrambles because someone is sick hungover missing, breakfast service, take a break, lunch pre-shift, lunch service, move on to more food production, staff meal, dinner pre-shift, dinner service, clean up, wipe down, go over the day’s receipts, stay on top of staffing for tomorrow, and fit in balancing the checkbook, making payroll, checking inventory against reality, making a list of purveyors to talk to, and finally, turning off the lights.

All of this without swearing overly much at staff customers passersby loved ones.

Not that working at the Lighthouse wasn’t a happening, an exploit. “Working there was always an adventure,” said John Dwyer.

“My first waitressing job 40 years ago,” said Gina Menza. “I was terrible, but you kept me on. Some crazy memories living upstairs, sitting on the roof to watch the parade, and sneaking into the drive-in rolled up in a carpet in the back of the van.”

“Living in the upstairs apartment to working at the Lighthouse for my first job, smashing my head into the tables while running from the kitchen to the dining room, creamy dill salad and the best pickles on the planet, working down in the bakery, and years later to many post-shift beers,“ said Jacqueline Stagg.

“My most fun job,” said Kelly Moore. “Endless pre-games and endgames, situations, life lessons with Pill Bill, meltdowns, bike stealings and returnings, hurricane parties, skinny dipping team meetings, Wall of Shame, family breakfasts, jam sessions, chats with Thomas, high society, beer pong tournaments, roof top nights, off-season regulars, Mexican meltdowns with Slammo, and mista sista kissa.”

Communities are built around their city halls, schools, and businesses. Even though the Outer Cape is known for its guidebook attractions, sun and sand whale watching galleries seafood summer theater, Provincetown, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and the National Seashore, its essence is in its smaller neighborhoods and places.

“They were the center beacon of our town,” said Chris Eize of the Sacred Mounds. “When we became the house band, we became part of the Lighthouse.”

Most bands that ever played at the Lighthouse played in a place where the music making was consistently better than it should have sounded, resonating better than the written notes, and from Funktapuss to the Sacred Mounds they always lit up the venue.

“The Super Scenics always had a blast playing there with our gracious hosts the Mounds and the Lighthouse” said Jeff Jahnke, “Thanks and cheers!”

“We got to know Michelle and Jodie on an intimate level of trust, honest communication, and friendship,” said Chris, the frontman of the Mounds. “I loved how Jodie didn’t really have a filter, and you knew exactly what she was thinking, because she would tell you, whether you liked it or not. We enjoyed the after-show drinks and reflections with Michelle, and that openness will live on with appreciation and fondness.”

There is always a lot of camaraderie in restaurants, everyone working closely together, all around the chuck wagon.

“The restaurant business, even in the most stable of markets is, frankly, exhausting,” said Joe Wanco. “It’s an ever-consuming extra member of the family. There are no restful nights, even with the help of your favorite tequila.”

It is a consuming undertaking because of the long hours and hard work, most of it on your feet, and the competition inherent in the undertaking. The restaurant business is massive, with more than one million restaurants coast to coast. The chances of making it even one year are slim. Most eateries close in their first twelve months. Three of four close in the next three to five years. Making it four decades is Bunyanesque.

“The Wanco family put their heart and soul into their work,” said Chris Eize. Staying the course means staying steadfast. “Wow, 40 years, that’s awesome,” said Katie Edmond.

“You and your oyster stew are going to be greatly missed,” said Rob Cushing.

“Joe and Laura, enjoy your well-deserved retirement,” said Virginia Paine Davis. “You have served the town well.”

It works both ways, coming and going, since Main Street in Wellfleet is not a one-way street.

“We are eternally grateful for the many years of support from our loyal clientele, especially our year-round community,” said the Wanco family, signing off.

“Good luck, cuz,” said Joyce Buccino Fabiano to the leave-taking.

“We sure are going to miss you all,” said Mike Deltano.

“But how will I ever find my children now when I get to Wellfleet?” asked Judy Sherlock. &#;Look for them at the library?”

The Wanco’s were the Lighthouse keepers for a long time. The lights of our favorite places go on and off over time. Every now and then they need a new minder. What Main Street needs now is a new barkeep to fire up the lanterns again at the local public house, like the Garden State transplants did forty-some enterprising years ago.

Ed Staskus posts feature stories on Paperback Yoga  Stanley Street and Lithuanian Journal To get the site’s monthly feature in your in-box click on “Follow.”

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