Coniglio Nation

In this day of reality television and Insta-celebrities, the Coniglio family could easily be an overnight sensation. Frank and Gail’s six children (five daughters and a son) have distinct personalities but share the same beach-kissed good looks and outgoing nature destined to build a fan following.

Around Palm Beach, the Coniglio name is synonymous with great food and laid-back revelry, having opened some of the county’s most beloved bars and eateries, including E.R. Bradley’s, Cucina dell’ Arte, Nick & Johnny’s, the Island Bee, and the new 123 Datura. Gail is currently serving her fourth term as mayor of Palm Beach while her kids build the family business and pursue their own passions.

Despite their local celebrity status, the Coniglios are not interested in the limelight; in fact, old-school simplicity suits them just fine. They’re content gathering at Frank and Gail’s Palm Beach home every Sunday for dinner, an endless reel of home movies playing in the background and an audience of relatives to laugh with—and at.

“We are a lively family,” says Gail, who credits their close bond to these meals. “With school and other obligations, I feel it’s important they have fun together and share their weekly adventures.”

Cara McClure, whom Gail describes as the peacemaker of the bunch, agrees with her mother. “As you become adults and don’t live in the same house, you actually have to choose to have a relationship with your family,” she says. “It’s such a blessing we all choose to be so close. It’s a testament to how my parents raised us.”

For the most part, the Coniglio kids live in and around Palm Beach. Even those who don’t—like fashion designer Christina, who’s in New York—find ways to make an appearance at Sunday dinner. “I am always looped in with Facetime calls so I can participate in whatever celebration is at hand,” she says.

Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio (right) with four of her five daughters, from left: Jan-Marie Cook, Gabrielle Coniglio, Francesca Fink, and Cara McClure

Budding chef and youngest child Gabrielle drives up from Miami every Sunday to work alongside her mom in the kitchen. “My family has always been above and beyond supportive with all of my culinary pursuits,” she says. “I feel very thankful to have the Coniglio nation behind me in every move I make.”

Coniglio nation in its current form began in 1982, when Frank and Gail came down from Maryland for a two-month Christmas vacation—and never left. They opened E.R. Bradley’s and purchased a house on the North End, where the road curves to run alongside the ocean. The kids remember Casa de Coniglio as a center of activity, one that’s only gotten crazier as grandkids—11 so far—have come into the mix. Often, celebrations and Sunday dinners spill out of the home and onto the adjacent beach.

“We all love being outside and on the water,” says Jan-Marie Cook, a mother of four. “There’s really nothing better than having the opportunity to congregate in a place we love with the people we love.”

“Nothing keeps us more grounded than my parents’ house and the ocean,” says Nick, Gail and Frank’s only son. “I know it will bring our growing family the same joy and cleansing that it did for our older crew.”

Gail touts Nick as a great older brother and her right-hand man getting the girls ready for school when they were younger. “He was in charge of hair every morning,” she says. “He was very adept as a hairdresser and was my alarm clock going around and telling everyone it was time to get up.”

Today, Nick thanks his sisters for giving him the brothers he never had. “All the spouses have brought something awesome to the clan,” he says.

“We virtually cannot be without one another,” adds Francesca Fink, who notes that her husband and Cara’s husband meet Nick at 5 a.m. multiple times a week to work out and get in “bro time.” The girls frequently catch up over manicures and pedicures, and no one ever dares schedule a conflict on Sundays.

Coniglio Grandchildren from left: Cricket Cook, Elle and Selah McClure

“All we want to do on a Sunday is be with each other,” Francesca says. “If the sun is out and waves are up, we are on the beach playing and surfing with the grandkids, who always keep us laughing. They’re built-in entertainment.”

All of the Coniglio grandchildren are around the same age and love to be together for cousin time. “They’ll certainly be a tribe to be reckoned with on this island in the future,” Nick jokes.

Seeing this next generation together brings back memories of their own childhood. Of riding down the bike trail, singing the Marine Corps’ hymn as they followed their fearless leaders, Gail and Frank. Of early morning birthday serenades, completed after chores but before school. These vocal traditions continue today, Gabrielle explains, but have evolved into a six-person attempt to harmonize “Oh, Happy Day” after a few glasses of wine.

For all their fun-loving tendencies, the Coniglios have never been known to hog the spotlight, a trait that can be traced back to Gail’s motherly advice.

“From a young age, I would tell my children to please not be a ‘do you see me?’ person,” Gail explains. “You don’t need to tell people if you’ve done well in school or on the tennis court or as an athlete or that you can dance or be creative. What you have done will show people who you are.”

While this established family tenet might mean a no-go on The Coniglio Show, it has led to many selfless acts of community giving and an entrenched desire to bond with one another.

“My family members are my best friends,” says Cara. “I have always felt so safe in my family knowing that if anything went sideways, I have a tribe to back me up.”

Makeup:Deborah Koepper
Hair: Jerome Obry
Deborah Koepper Beauty, Palm Beach
Photography by Ben Fink Shapiro

Facebook Comments