By EMMA BARTLETT
If there’s a well-known place in Cranston to get your fish and chips, clam cakes or scallops, Stadium Fish and Chips is likely the first name to slip off the local tongue. …
By EMMA BARTLETT
If there’s a well-known place in Cranston to get your fish and chips, clam cakes or scallops, Stadium Fish and Chips is likely the first name to slip off the local tongue. Gary Wood is a third generation owner of the family business and has worked there for almost 49 years. He and his wife, Monique, have decided to retire and are selling the business; Stadium Fish and Chips will, however, remain open until a sale goes through.
Stadium Fish and Chips has a rich history which Gary shared with the Herald. The business goes back to Gary’s great aunt and uncle – Clement and Margaret Wood – who opened it in 1937 on Park Avenue and Rolfe Square and named the business Auburn Fish and Chips.
After five years, Clement and Margaret relocated the business to 1079 Park Avenue and constructed today’s building. In 1965, Gary’s mother and father – Albert and Mabel Wood – purchased the business from Albert’s sister and ran the place themselves until 1969. Gary said his parents renamed the shop, changing it to Stadium Fish and Chips since they were by Cranston Stadium.
Gary became a business partner in 1973 – taking over his parents’ share of the company and running Stadium Fish and Chips with his brother; the siblings worked together until 1986. Gary said he didn’t intend to work at the restaurant – mentioning he went to the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he played the tenor saxophone and his interest lay in big band music. However, music wasn’t necessarily a reliable career and Gary chose the restaurant which would allow him to provide for a family.
On the average work day, Gary leaves for work at 5 a.m. and returns home around 9 p.m. – though it’s even later when he’s open on Fridays. Monday and Tuesdays are prep days while Gary and Monique open Wednesday through Friday.
Gary said he met Monique at Stadium Fish and Chips when he was 33 and she was 32. Monique said she would come into the restaurant with her son and order food to go.
“He would throw the fries up, so all I would see was this arm throwing fries up, and I thought ‘hmm, I wonder what the other side of that arm looks like’.”
Gary said they dated for six weeks and only had one date by themselves because they either had her son or his two kids from his first marriage with them; they have been married for 36 years and live in Scituate.
Stadium Fish and Chips has also seen generations of lifelong customers come into the shop.
“We’ve seen people come in here from the time they were little kids and now they’re adults with kids of their own,” said Gary.
Gary and Monique know many of the customers on a first name basis – mentioning that they’ve exchanged phone numbers with some and been out to dinner with others. Gary said the shop is cozier than the typical big restaurant and a lot of people walk in seeing individuals they know.
Monique said Stadium Fish and Chips is one of the last fish and chips shops in the area.
One of the reasons they’ve lasted so long, is their ability to evolve.
“Like any place, you go through different stages of the economy and you have to reinvent yourself,” Gary said.
Gary said that in the 70s, there were only three things on the shop’s menu: fish and chips, red chowder and fish cakes. Gary said they received business from Narraganset Brewery and Cranston Print Works, but one by one as the places started closing and people moved away, Stadium Fish and Chips needed to reinvent itself. Over time, they needed to diversify their menu to cater to more of their customers' needs and added clams, bay scallops, sea scallops, shrimp and lobster rolls which have been popular sellers over the years. Gary recalled one Saturday after the restaurant started selling clam cakes to the menu there was a line out the door with people ready to order, individuals dining in and more people ordering through the phone.
Today, it’s Gary and Monique running the business. Fridays are their busier days, though the couple usually gets a couple hundred people coming through the store on a given day.
Stadium Fish and Chips will remain open until the sale goes through. Realtor Lisa Harrison said there has been some interest in the building. Along with the business comes Stadium Fish and Chips’ recipes. The restaurant continues to be open Wednesday through Friday (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday) and (10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday).
The owners are looking to give the younger generation the opportunity to a turnkey business. There are 24 to 30 indoor seats and the space is fully equipped with three door and two door coolers, freezer, updated fire suppression and 200 amp electrical system both five years old. There is a 12-car parking lot that enters on two streets and storage in a dry clean basement. The sale includes an additional 3,200 square foot plat 6/3 lot 2364 [0 Flint Street] abutting the Cranston Stadium which creates walk-in business during seasonal games.
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