Ray Verrocchio has been at the center of Pawtuxet for the past five years. As the proprietor of Bagel Express and Deli, he gets the morning crowd and fills up on village chatter. On the other side of …
Ray Verrocchio has been at the center of Pawtuxet for the past five years. As the proprietor of Bagel Express and Deli, he gets the morning crowd and fills up on village chatter. On the other side of the bridge, Amy Chaffee gets ready for the lunch crowd at O’Rourke’s Bar and Grill. She knows many of the clientele by first name and if she doesn’t she’s sure to know it by the time they leave.
Amy and Ray have the village pulse and they love the beat at this time of year.
Ray paused to share his thoughts Sunday morning as customers enjoyed their coffee and scones, or whatever they had selected from the glass cases, over the newspaper or watching the commentary leading up to the World Cub playoff between Argentina and France. People weren’t buried in their cell phones, but rather engaged in conversation.
Don Foster, who was by himself in a corner table, could have been dubbed the referee. He seemed to be in tune with all the conversations simultaneously. He chimed in when Gerry Quaranto described how his brother, Kenny, is doing in the wake of operations to his leg. And Foster nodded as Ray talked about Christmas in Pawtuxet.
“It actually gets a little slower,” Ray said of the business. That doesn’t bother him.
“Everyone comes out here. Everyone is involved and they have the holiday spirit.”
He points to the lighting of the village Christmas tree in Pawtuxet Park and how the Pawtuxet Rangers led off the event, marching to the park. There has been caroling and the lighting of the Menorah. The park has also featured luminaria with the names of deceased family and friends.
Last year Ray had Santa visit the shop to share stories and the Christmas spirit. This year he set up collections for Toys for Tots and for food donations. And to share the holiday spirit with his employees, Ray and a friend and operator of a couple of shops, held dinner on Sunday in a tent erected in the parking lot for upwards of 30 people.
Steps away in what is still thought of as Lindsay’s Market, although that closed years ago, Shawna Gierhart had just opened Lucy Juicy, the business she started barely over ago. She has holiday smoothies and a vegan nog made with almond milk in place of eggs. She has gift boxes and also sells candles.
She said she dreamed of opening a business but as fate would have it the opportunity didn’t arise until the pandemic hit. “Things became available,” she said.
She found the space for Lucy Juicy so named for her dog, Susie Lucy, who unfortunately is no longer of this world. She has expanded the venture making space for a record shop and rotating the works of local artists that are displayed on a back wall. The works are for sale.
“I have always loved the village,” she says, apologizing as she leaves to make avocado toast for the first customer of the morning, a young couple with a stroller. Shawna hopes to partner with village businesses and has thoughts of opening more Lucy Juicys possibly in East Greenwich, Providence and Wickford. She also talked of the Christmas spirit and how it has pervaded the village.
Back at O’Rourke’s the luncheon crowd has started to arrive.
“I’m Mrs. Rhode Island, they should give me an award,” Amy said loud enough for patrons gathered around the bar to hear. They laugh and then lowering her voice, she says why she loves the village to the point that she’s thinking of selling her house in Smithfield and moving to Pawtuxet once her daughter graduates high school.
“They’re like family, they care for one another. They know you by your first name.”
She’s acknowledges all the work that Friends of Pawtuxet Village, The Pawtuxet Village Association, the Gaspee Days Committee and the Pawtuxet Rangers do to make for the village.
It’s unlikely that Ray, Shawna or Amy would disagree that Pawtuxet Village has a perpetual case of Christmas spirit.
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