Archive | Retail Updates

Providence’s own Koreatown

Teriyaki House

Photo © AndyMrrs

Los Angeles has their Koreatown neighborhood, a 2.7 square mile area of 124,000 people where 23% of the population is Korean. Of course, being Rhode Island, our burgeoning Korean district is a little more diminutive.

Sura recently opened on Westminster Street and opening soon across the street in the space where Bowl & Board used to be is Teriyaki & Korean House by the owners of Formerly Solomon’s on Benefit.

OK, so two restaurants perhaps do not a Koreatown make, but I’d settle for half as many ice cream stores in Icecreamtown.


Jake’s 2.0?

I used to love Jake’s in the Jewelry District and was so sad when it closed. So I was very happy today to see lots of work taking place in at the building today, inside and out. Anyone know the scoop? Is Jake’s coming back? Will there be cheesy fries and Prince on the jukebox?


Retail Update: Pop Up

Photo from Calico Blog

A retail trend that has been around for a while in bigger cities has been making its way to Providence recently, the Pop Up shop. Waste Not Want Not popped up for a while over the summer on Westminster, and from what I understand they are continuing with some other non-traditional retailing. And coming soon to the space next to Oop! we have Calico. Calico is a successful vintage clothing store located in New Bedford that will be popping up on Westminster on November 27th and plans to hang around through New Years.

We’ve secured the most amazing space in the heart of the city, and we can’t wait to stock it with our most covetable vintage boots, bags, coats, and accessories! We’ll also be offering the best selection of show-stopping, jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind vintage party dresses around! Just in time for the holidays!

Do we need to say it again, in these economic times, blah blah blah… Well, anyway, it is a cool concept to see make it’s way to Providence, if it can keep going we’ll maintain vitality and interest on Westminster. And there is always the possiblity that a Pop Up shop will gain traction and stick around.


Hail Seitan at AS220, Friday the 13th

Photo by Jef Nickerson

Remember all that hoo ha about eating at AS220? Neither do I.

This Friday, AS220 unveils their new Empire Street dining experience on Empire Street with a $6.66 buffet.

From AS220:

We are pleased to announce the official return of food to AS220 beginning Friday, November 6th and our grand opening celebration, featuring a $6.66 buffet, on Friday, November 13th. Please come by, welcome our new restaurant manager, Guy Michaud, and sample the restaurant’s opening menu, featuring such delicious offerings as spinach, roasted sweet potato, and walnut empanadas and chili prima pasta, pulled pork, parsnips, local rapini and Atwells Gold cheese. Our menu is sensitive to all food allergies and dietary restrictions; vegans and vegetarians can take comfort that almost all of the items can be easily adjusted to meet their needs by our full time vegan chef, Justin Earsing. Notably, the menu is also highly affordable from top to bottom, with offerings ranging from a mere dollar to just eight dollars.

AS220’s new food offerings, like all of its programs, is highly mission driven and reflects the founding principles of the non-profit organization. First and foremost, we want everyone who walks through the doors of AS220 to feel welcome and have access to the programs and benefits therein, regardless of financial constraints or other limitations, and a healthy meal and comfortable gathering place is among these. For this reason we aimed to create a restaurant that always has affordable options on the menu to further our food & drink space as the meeting place, the social “melting pot” and the forum for new ideas and collaboration we have always sought to provide.

In light of our mission to support local artists and entrepreneurs, we look to our local New England farms and food artisans to provide the quality ingredients for our cuisine. All of our menu items are created using the freshest local ingredients available and as the seasons change our daily specials and menu also change to reflect what is in season. Constant creativity in the kitchen means you can always be excited about what we are offering even if you make AS220 your source for both lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, enjoying nearly a half dozen daily specials. The restaurant will also provide occasions for local food artisans to get the word out about what they do, represent their creations in person and retail their products in our restaurant and bar area. We hope the lively food culture of our great state will take root at Empire Street and that Rhode Island “foodies” will take an active role in helping to develop the direction and future programming around food at AS220.

AS220’s restaurant also provides three six month positions at a time for youth involved in the Broad Street Studio program and/or the RI Training School’s culinary arts program. Broad Street provides free arts instruction and professional development to youth aged 14-21 with a focus on those in or recently released from state care. Our hope is that these kitchen training positions will allow youth to gain economic independence and also allow them to gain valuable work experience that will increase their opportunities in the larger community.

We are confident that you will come for the food and also return for the food, but we also hope your experience will be enriched by the knowledge that in addition to supporting local farms, food artisans, and our youth program, every purchase in the restaurant financially supports AS220’s not-for-profit work in Rhode Island. All earnings from our food offerings directly support the organization’s ability to offer unjuried, uncensored, all ages exhibitions and performances, stay true to our open booking policies, offer accessible arts education and much more. Please visit us at AS220 to learn more.

The Restaurant at AS220
115 Empire St., Providence, RI 02903
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11-10, Fri-Sat 11-11
Phone: 401-831-FOOD (3663)


Retail Update: Bowl & Board closing

In an email today, Bowl & Board announced that they are closing their last two mainland locations, including the store at 217 Westminster Street.


All mainland Bowl & Board stores are out of business after a 43 year run. Lots of stories, lots of hard work, many good times and laughs.

We’ve done business with well over 500 vendors and Craftspeople from all over the world. We’ve employed over 250 people from all walks of life. We’ve opened and closed stores all over New England, and weathered several recessions, but cannot lick this one. There’s just too much retail out there, and the costs of doing business these days makes it impossible to keep the doors open.

We’ll miss the experience, the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the people that all came together to make Bowl & Board what it was.

If you need to contact us for any reason please send an email to:

All special orders will be honored. Shoot us an email so that we can get in touch and schedule a time for you to pick up your order.

Thanks so much for all the support over this loooong run.

And Thank You Vendors! We wish you the best.

The closings in Providence and Somerville leave Bowl & Board with just one location in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts.


Retail Update: Hudson Street Deli grand opening (10/03)

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There was much sadness on the West Side when Hudson Street Market closed shop and moved to new digs in the Nightclub District*. But then the sadness abated when Hudson Street Deli was announced. The Deli has been open since mid-September, but they are having their grand opening celebration this Saturday (10/03). The grand opening will also feature gluten free baked goods from our friends at FreeFlour Bakery.

The festivities run from 12 to 2pm at 68 Hudson Street.

*Did I invent Nightclub District? Do we like it? It is shorter than Johnson & Wales Hootchies Heading to The Club District.


Gourmet Heaven Opens!

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Proprietor, Mr. Cho, welcomes us to his new store

Gourmet Heaven opened today on Weybosset Street Downcity with many dignitaries, Downcity residents, press, and passersby in attendance. After Buff Chase said a few words and thanked everyone who made it possible, the ribbon was cut and we headed inside.

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Inside the store is very nice with wooden cabinets, glass coolers, a large deli counter, and a prepared food section (the interior work was done by Site Specific, LLC and the architect was Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects both of Providence).

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Prices seem quite reasonable, surprisingly so for it’s Downcity location. I’m planning to head back at lunchtime to grab a sandwich.

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Photos by Jef Nickerson

Mr. Cho promises more ice cream is on it’s way. 🙂


Retail Update: Mall CVS Open

As I’m sure many walking or driving by have noticed, the sidewalk fronting mall CVS has opened at the Francis St/Memorial Blvd intersection. All of the J&W students who will be living at Capitol Cove will now have all of their pharmaceutical needs met.

Also, while not directly Providence related, I thought I’d mention that we’re far from the only place having significant retail turnover and, in fact, we may be having less than some other places. My wife and friends in the Boston metro report lots of changes in Brookline and Cambridge. In fact, my wife was in Brookline last night and found that two of her favorite establishments there have closed in the last few weeks alone…


Retail Update: Plus one, minus one


Due to open Saturday is an ice cream store on Atwells Avenue, in the location in the photo above at Dean and Atwells. The last tenant in here was Al & Betty’s which was a pretty good greasy spoon (good enough to get me out of bed on the weekends for french toast). After a death in the family, Al & Betty’s closed down, that was a couple (few?) years ago. At one point someone was renovating the storefront with the idea of placing a fish mongers in there. They never completed the renovations and never opened. So while the rest of Atwells has been filling out quite nicely in recent years, even during the current economic downturn, this prime corner location has been empty.

I’m very much looking forward to an ice cream store steps from my house.

The minus one sadly is Benders Caffe which we Cheered a few months back for their green practices (and yummy panini). I’ve noticed they’ve been intermittently open in recent weeks, and walking by today I saw the For Sale sign in the window. Sorry to see you go Benders.

In the almost plus one category is Gourmet Heaven. Stock is being loaded in and I read somewhere (I forget where now) that we should expect a soft opening on June 7th.


Retail Update: Snookers & More…

Snookers: I’m not sure how “old news” this is, but Snookers sports bar is listed to be “coming soon” at about 44 Ashburton Street on the other side of the 95 overpass from Kelly’s Car Wash. It’ll be right next to the, um, antique store and near the, um, Subway, and the, um, Marriott hotel and the, um, Mathematics Society, making for one interesting group of neighbors coexisting there.

Smith Hill Laundromat: Many people have fantasized (well, at least a few people have) about how cool a business could go into the former auto repair space that defines the corner of the retail square at the intersection of Smith St. and Chalkstone Ave. across from NY System Hotdogs. Well, in the category of “better than nothing,” a laundromat is replacing the closed mattress store. To its credit, it’s always good when neighborhoods get new service businesses and they’re nicely redoing the facade with floor to ceiling windows that I’m sure will be well lit, giving a much better sense of life to that normally sleepy corner.

Butterfield: Having finished their move from downtown, Butterfield has opened in Wayland Square.

East Side Creamery: This ice cream shop has opened in the closed Knight Art Gallery space in the newly vibrant Ives Street retail area on the East Side and was packed when my wife and I were recently there. Of note, this is the second art gallery to close on the East Side this year (the Ruggieri space also closed in Wayland Square).

Beadworks: They are, interestingly enough, moving from Thayer Street (previously announced) to 16 Bassett Street in the Jewelry District.


Retail Update: Asian Palace Opens on North Main

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Speaking of the “Retail to Restaurant” trend we were all debating, the newest example is located nearby on North Main Street (1184, across from East Side Urgent Care). This is where the long closed (and cutely named) Off Track Bedding outlet (whose empty storefront was captured by Google Streetview above) has been replaced by Asian Palace, which opened this past Friday. Should the photo above scare you, I’ll add that they’ve substantially gutted and updated the building.

Their menu is what I personally refer to “RI Pan-Asian 2.0.” What seems to distinguish Asian Palace, as far as I can see, is their hours. They’re open to 11 PM Mon-Thurs, and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday, much later than almost every other ethnic dining option I can think of, Asian or otherwise, in the entire metro. This will likely work well for them given their close location to Miriam Hospital and its continuous stream of workers around the clock.

So, a question: Does anyone know if this pan-Asian default for restaurants is a RI only trend? If so, why? When I go home to NY, I don’t find this… The restaurants there, both in the city and suburbs, are solo-cuisine for the most part. Same thing in my recent travels around the US. Why only here?

To read more about the menu type and my very brief review, click below:

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Thayer Transformed?

Thayer Street

Photo by Bret Ancowitz,

The Brown Daily Herald has a great article charting the recent and upcoming changes to Thayer Street. The take home message is that it’s not hard to imagine a time when almost the entire street may be home to dining establishments with little retail save for the Bookstore (whose redo is awesome) and a national chain here or there (CVS, Urban Outfitters). It could essentially be the Brown University Food Court.

Does this herald the future of all neighborhood “Main Streets?” That no retail can survive, only restaurants and bank ATM’s?

Here’s the rundown of the Thayer revolving door:

Already closed in the last year or two:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • La Femme Boutique
  • Spike’s Hotdogs
  • Geoff’s
  • Yang’s Fabrics
  • Roba Dolce
  • Blaze

Closing Soon:

  • Morrison Office Supply
  • Beadworks (they are moving to a yet to be publicized location away from Thayer)

Recently Opened:

  • Marley’s (in Blaze space)

Opening Soon:

  • Shark Sushi Bar and Grill (in the DD, La Femme space, sadly with real shark in a tank… Ugh…)
  • Baja’s (in the Spike’s space, Tex Mex by the Shanghi/Xtreme folks)
  • Better Burger Company (by the Paragon folks, in the Yangs and office supply space combined)
  • Geoff’s Space (unannounced occupant soon)
  • Roba Dolce Space (unannounced occupant soon)

I strongly recommend reading the article, which is chocked full of great and telling quotes. The scariest one, in reference to the unannounced upcoming occupant of the Roba Dolce space, is the following:

“People are saying that the concept that’s going there is something that doesn’t really belong on Thayer Street,” DeMartino said, adding that he could not be more specific. “The only thing that we know for sure is that it’s a national company.”

Any guesses?


Retail Updates: Almost Heaven


Future home of Gourmet Heaven at Weybosset and Union Streets.

The plywood veil has come down from what any day now should be the home of Downcity’s new market, Gourmet Heaven. The market will be located in the ground floor of RISD’s Fletcher Building at Weybosset and Union Streets.

Gourmet Heaven has two locations in New Haven, Connecticut and this is what they have to say about themselves on their website:

We have all the gourmet foods you are looking for with specialty products from around the world. We carry organic snacks and meals, imported candies and nuts, as well as all of your everyday grocery essentials. Gourmet Heaven brings to market the finest food items available… whether it be from our always fresh hot/cold buffet tables, our deli, or the many different groceries we offer!

I’ve been describing it as the 7-Eleven version of Whole Foods. It is not a full size full service grocery store, but it does have a lot of what one would need from a grocery store. Good news for the people who live Downcity, and the people like me, looking for a place to stop on the walk home to pick a few things up.

I don’t know the exact date they plan to open, but it looks like not too long now. The exterior looks terrific, hats off to the architects, Durkee Brown, and the contractor, Site Specific of Providence.


Retail Update: Whoa! Cold Stone Creamery Downtown

1csI was walking on Westminster last night and noticed a Cold Stone Creamery sign up at the Tim Horton’s coffee location at the intersection with Dorrance. A quick Google search confirmed that the two companies recently announced that they are expanding their co-branding initiative after trials were successful.

Given that an ice cream store has been high on most people’s wish lists for downtown, this is a positive development of sorts. I had hoped it would be a local (or at least RI) effort and hoped it would take up its own storefront (rather than shacking up with Tim Horton’s), but given our current economy, it’s better than nothing. Now people will be able to pop over from the recently opened Boston Sports Club down the street directly to Cold Stone to balance out exercise and, ah, ice cream…


Retail Update: Seven Stars expanding eastward

06030 - Site Plan - 2008-06-11

Providence Business News reports today that Seven Stars Bakery is planning a new locations at Rumford Center in East Providence.

Seven Stars currently has location at Hope Street on the East Side, Broadway on the West Side, and a bakery facilities at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket.

In this economic climate, it is good to see that a local business is able to expand and thrive.

Above site plan from Rumford Center


Local Whole Foods Close Earlier

The closing of the Warwick Mall one hour earlier on some nights was recently reported with a grave tone suggesting that this was the long-awaited proof that the economic apocalypse had finally arrived.

In my opinion, the far more newsworthy and lifestyle altering early closure (if you’re like me and do your food shopping hyper-efficiently from 9:30 to 10 PM) was the move to quietly shutter the Cranston and Wayland Square Whole Foods markets at 9 PM rather than their previous 10 PM. Interestingly, the North Main Street Providence location is unaffected and still closes at 10 for now.

The Cranston location was recently opened and the Wayland Square location was recently renovated. Nearby competitors so far are maintaining their hours, with East Side Market still closing at 10 PM and Super Stop and Shop on Branch Avenue still being open 24 hours most evenings.


Retail Update: CVS at the Mall moving


In the windows of the large, street corner, sidewalk-fronting retail space that wraps around where Memorial Boulevard meets Francis Street are large “coming soon” CVS/Pharmacy signs. The pharmacy-less CVS on the third floor of the mall will be closing and moving to this new street level location with a pharmacy.

There is also a CVS in Kennedy Plaza without a pharmacy. Word is that this CVS will remain. Last year there were reports that the CVS in Kennedy Plaza was planning to expand into the neighboring retail space on Westminster Street (formerly occupied by the Christian Science Reading Room, now the home of the Boston Sports Club retail office and ArtTix). It is unclear what the status of those plans are now.

Certainly one of the things that is missing from Downcity being a fully functioning all inclusive neighborhood is a pharmacy. A strong urban neighborhood should have what it’s residents need within a short walking distance. Downcity’s residence now have to travel to North Main Street or Atwells Avenue to find a full service pharmacy.

One concern about this mall location is that the specific site has walkability issues.

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