By Kristi Runyan
After getting through some growing pains in a summer marred by the Covid-19 pandemic, the operators of Solé at Woodlawn Beach State Park say they're excited about this summer. One reason, they have a lineup of live entertainment for summer 2021 so those near and far can come enjoy one of Western New York's regional attractions, according to Dennis DiPaolo of Ilio DiPaolo's and Jonathan Palmer of Lardon Construction Corporation.
Located at 3580 Lake Shore Road in Blasdell, Woodlawn Beach was a state park until the Town of Hamburg took it over for about a decade. It became a state park once again in 2020, and DiPaolo and Palmer took over as the owners and operators of what is now known as Solé at Woodlawn Beach State Park.
Solé teamed up with local promoter, Ross Catalino of Back to Back Entertainment Group, and announced their summer music schedule with 97 Rock. "Rock into the Weekend" will take place every Friday and feature local bands. DJ Jickster from 97 Rock will also host company happy hour on Wednesdays. Additionally, every Tuesday will be Country Music night in partnership with WYRK.
"We want to make Woodlawn Beach to Hamburg what Holiday Valley is to Ellicottville," DiPaolo said. "You can come up for a weekend, get a hotel, go to Canalside and do something downtown, stroll the Village of Hamburg and spend a day at the beach. It's a little jewel in our own community."
The solé team's vision for the beach at Woodlawn Beach State Park is to create a must-attend destination that will bring people from all over the northeast and Canada to enjoy the Buffalo community.
DiPaolo expects many people will continue to stay local as opposed to traveling as the pandemic persits, and he said coming to Solé, ordering some takeout from the Sandbar and making a day of it at the beach is a nice way to get away without going far away.
With more than two dozen weddings already booked for this year at Solé and the jam-packed live music summer schedule, DiPaolo is excited, even though Covid-19 is still a concern. But, after making it through last year, he is confident, particularly thanks to his team, which includes Lardon, as well as Chris Stone, food and beverage manager, and Leanne Royce, event host.
DiPaolo had been catering events at the Lodge at Woodlawn Beach for 10 years with the Town of Hamburg, and when the beach was to become a state park last year, he wanted to keep it going as he had established a reputation there, he said.
"I thought, 'this might be too big of a project just for myself,' so I asked Jonathan," he said. "Jonathan said, 'I'm with you, this is in our backyard, our community, and we can't let it go away.' It's a big project to make that thing go."
So, they remodeled the Tiki Bar, which is now the Sandbar where you can grab food and drinks; brought in a lot more sand to expand the beach area and made other updates and changes. The Lodge is still available to be rented for parties, weddings and graduations; and the Beach Bar is still on site, too.
DiPaolo said opening in May 2020 at the height of the pandemic craziness and uncertainty actually worked out in a way.
"We made it through last year, and Covid was pretty good to us in a way," he said. "We got our growing pains out by limiting it to only so many people, so it all worked out for the best."
This summer, there will be live music most weekdays throughout the summer, and there will be music on the weekends, just not necessarily live bands, DiPaolo said. On the weekends, things will be more beach recreational, featuring various sports leagues and clinics.
Safety guidelines will continue to be observed at the beach and venue to ensure a safe experience for employees and customers. Social distancing and face masks are required, and countertops will be sanitized on a regular basis. There will also be hand sanitizer stations available for all guests.
Visit soleatwoodlawnbeach.com to see the event schedule or view rental spaces or call 716-824-3500 to speak with the even coordinator. Follow Sole at Woodlawn Beach on Facebook and Instagram for updates.