Meet Kritika and Kiera, our Learning Fellows

This summer, Local Return is thrilled to have on our team two Learning Fellows through the Swearer Center at Brown University. Kiera Walsh and Kritika Shrivastava are working with us to mine research and data around community wealth, investment ecosystems, and economic self-reliance. They’re enthusiastic and diligent scholars, passionate about our future. Please welcome Kritika and Kiera!  

Meet the East Providence Planning Department, Neighborhood Champions

Neighborhood Champion East Providence Planning Department

Please enjoy this contribution from the East Providence Planning Department, true Neighborhood Champions!

Our Planning Department put together a list of what we think makes for a perfect day in East Providence. We wanted to share our small-town Townie favorites alongside some of the new and exciting additions to East Providence—because we love them all. We hope folks get to know and love EP—there’s a lot to love!

We start with what we think is one of the best-kept-secret breakfast nooks in the East Bay: the Broadway Diner. Go–and get the Eggs Benedict with the Red Bliss home fries and a side of fresh fruit. The bagel sandwiches are also amazing. This place is a Townie favorite—good food and people with zero pretense.

After breakfast, take a walk down Broadway and visit Jackie on Broadway—a boutique with an eclectic collection of vintage and curated modern clothing. Jackie studied jewelry and metalworking at RISD and her artistic flair shows in every detail of her beautiful shop. 

For lunch, head over to Riverside and one of our favorite new eateries: Taconeando and order the tacos—we think they’re some of the best tacos you’ll find in the state. Come back for the tortas, though! Enjoy your tacos with some of their incredible house-made, perfectly sweetened Jamaica drink.  

After you are good and full, you’ll need to walk off those tacos a bit. Cross the street and head over to Willett Pond. Willett Pond is currently being restored into a healthier habitat with a pair of beautiful aerating water fountains that light-up at night.  Sit under the new cherry tree saplings and watch the osprey catch their lunch and then take a stroll on the walking trail that surrounds the pond. Look for the beautiful Swamp Marigolds on your walk.  

When dinner time rolls around, head over to Skeff’s — a great new pub that just opened in central East Providence. The owners are Townies come home and we love having them here in EP. Have a Guinness, enjoy some live music, and order the steak and cheese eggrolls and maybe some of the chicken wings in Guinness sauce. (You’re welcome.) Try to go on a Friday so that you can play music bingo!  

If you’ve managed to save any room, head over to Sacred Cow and have a maple creemee—yes, a real maple creemee south of Vermont. Get a pup cup for your four-legged friends, too! Try to time it so that you catch one of those amazing East Providence sunsets while you enjoy your maple creemee–and that will be the perfect capstone to your day in EP.  

Meet Carmen Diaz-Jusino and Luis Jusino, Neighborhood Champions

Neighborhood Champions Carmen Diaz-Jusino & Luis Jusino

Carmen and Luis share with us some of their favorite local businesses along Hartford Avenue in Providence.

Guatelinda Restaurant storefront

First up on Carmen and Luis’s list is GuateLinda Restaurant-Cevicheria, a Latino-owned restaurant, at 553 Hartford Avenue.

“Este restaurante es uno de mis preferidos, porque nos ofrece auténtica cocina Guatemalteca, recetas clásicas y exquisitas que nos permiten conocer de la gastronomía de este precioso país. Sus dueños son locales y parte de la comunidad que sirven manteniendo alrededor de 60 años de tradición familiar. En Guatelinda podemos elegir entre una variedad de platos guatemaltecos clásicos preparados al momento.”

Much to choose from at La Gran Via Meat Market

Next is another Latino-owned business, La Gran Via Meat Market, located at 421 Hartford Avenue.

“Esta tienda es una delicia para las familias de esta comunidad, porque nos ofrece la oportunidad de encontrar los alimentos y productos étnicos que consumimos y que nos permiten mantenernos conectados a nuestras diversas gastronomías. Sus dueños son unos hermanos dominicanos que se complacen en servir la comunidad en la que viven.”

Buono's Bakery storefront

Luis and Carmen also recommend Buono’s Bakery at 559 Hartford Avenue.

“This family owned and operated bakery had been serving Rhode Island communities for more than 90 years. It was first the Monda Italian Bakery, and in 1989, with startup help from the Mondas, the Buono family took over. In just a short time using the old world methods and recipes handed down to them, Buonos Bakery established a great name for themselves. From then on, Buono’s has become known as “The Best Italian Bread in New England!” Buono’s Bakery is committed to the community it serves. For every dollar you spend at the bakery, they dedicate a portion to local charities and caring organizations.”

Friendly greeting at Sienna & Co.

Lastly, Carmen and Luis suggests a visit to Sienna & Co. at 100 Midway Place, Suite 13, just down the road in Garden City.

“Sienna & Co. is a peaceful “skin-body-soul” studio offering a wide variety of results-driven facials, hair removal, tinting, massages, an infrared sauna, and reiki treatments. They say, “Radiating positive energy and good vibes is our priority!” A big shout out to a woman-owned and -operated space. Thank you, Sienna, Erin, Cheryl, Beka and Chrissy!”

Meet Josh and Adrienne Daly, Neighborhood Champions

Peace Dale Neighborhood Champions Adrienne and Josh Daly, on a bike trip to Green Line Apothecary for ice cream and shakes

Please enjoy this contribution from Neighborhood Champions Josh and Adrienne Daly, pictured above on a family bike trip to Green Line Apothecary for ice cream.

We love so many great businesses and organizations in our Peace Dale neighborhood, just a short walk from our home!

Jayd Bun: Awesome folks making the best, most creative authentic Chinese food around! Everything is amazingly delicious, but of course, the buns are a must!

Rock Spot Climbing: Located in the Pallisades Mill (right by Whalers Brewing, another awesome local business!) Rock Spot is such an awesome place for the whole family. Lots of birthday parties, camps, and drop-in opportunities to climb. Awesome, friendly staff.

FLATTS Smokehouse: A great neighborhood bar and restaurant. The meat eaters among our family love the pulled pork and brisket and the veg folks love the roasted Brussels salad! It’s also a favorite spot to meet up with a friend for a beer and see neighbors.

Jonnycake Center For Hope: They provide such valuable and vital services in our community and are based right here and know the particular needs of the community. They also did an amazing job renovating the old Peace Dale schoolhouse building into a beautiful and functional home for their services. 

Pump House Music Works: A local music venue that has reinvented itself several times and cemented its place in the community. (As its name suggests, its historic building and  location was once the pump house for the neighboring tri-pond area). They’ve created a really warm atmosphere and, as a musician, they have the best sound!

Meet Tuni Schartner, Neighborhood Champion

Wickford Village Neighborhood Champion Tuni Schartner

Please enjoy this contribution from Neighborhood Champion Tuni Schartner.

Wickford is a welcoming seaside village tucked in along Narragansett Bay in Southern Rhode Island with picturesque tree-lined streets filled with lovingly preserved historic houses and many unique owner-operated small businesses, with many owners also living in the village. The large harbor is an outdoor playground for many boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders, and even mermaids and witches! The merchant’s association, historic organization, and others work hard to bring fun family events all year long, such as Harbor Lights, the Horribles Parade, and Festival of Lights. Wickford is truly a village and my favorite place to live, play, eat and shop! Follow I Love Wickford Village on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.

Wickford Village recently won USA Today’s annual Reader’s Choice ‘Best Historic Small Town’!

We even have a Town Historian, Tim Cranston, that has written multiple books covering the history of Wickford.

Julie and Jack Kliever (who also live in the village) operate New Deal Horse & Carriage. They offer carriage rides from small intimate tours to larger group history tours — Eddie & Lenny are the best mascots!

Green Ink Boutique (background) has been in business for over 40 years and remains one of the many women owned/operated foundational businesses in town. 

There is so much ‘Local Love’ at JW Graham/YES! Gallery. Julie and Palmer Beebe are the heart of our village, and this family-owned business featuring so many amazing gifts by local artists is a MUST when shopping and visiting Wickford Village. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram!

Beauty and the Bath, purveyor of fine soaps and toiletries as well as many very fun gifts, has been making people happy in Wickford Village for over 35 years. Owner and Wickford resident Lori Lyons is a true community champion offering many locally-crafted products from soaps and lotions to honey. Her annual Pajama Party, the first week in December, kicks off our holiday season in town. She has been collecting pajamas for children in need for over 20 years, and this night is full of fun, food, and shopping while also focusing on the true meaning of the holidays and community.  From annual pictures with the Easter Bunny to just daily shopping, Beauty and the Bath is a beloved destination for so many. Shop online, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

PLEASE come visit Wickford Village soon. I didn’t mention food but we do have some great spots like Alma’s, Shayna’s Place, Wickford on the Water, Tavern by the Sea, and Gardner’s Seafood!  

Much love from Wickford Village,

Tuni

Meet Jenn Steinfeld, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Jenn Steinfeld

Please enjoy this contribution from Neighborhood Champion and great friend of Local Return Jenn Steinfeld.

Nestled between Route 10 and Mount Pleasant is the Valley Arts District, a corridor of relatively new (re)development along Providence’s Woonasquatucket River. Long an area for industrial production, the mill buildings and working history of this area made it a natural fit for artists. But while the former informal artist spaces like Fort Thunder have been displaced, there are still many working artists living and working in the area, and a crop of businesses that cater to them. Here are some of my favorites.

60 Valley Street is the mixed use development called The Plant, which is home to the bookstore/bar Riffraff. Their small space is packed with an incredible selection, they host writers talks and book clubs, and if they don’t have the book you want in stock, they can get it quickly! You can take your new books (or even one you’re considering, carefully!) to the bar and enjoy it with a cocktail or coffee. 

And if you find yourself peckish, Troop is located in the same building; I recommend the Street Noods! 

Down the river a bit at 1 Sims Ave is The Steel Yard, a community industrial arts studio that is also home to many arts businesses. Here you will find the Industrious Spirits Company, or ISCo, Providence’s first distillery since prohibition. In addition to their very fine tasting room, where you can sample their gins and vodkas, they have a lovely covered patio set up for year round enjoyment no matter the weather! Live music, pop-up food vendors, or bring your own treats to enjoy this gem. 

Right across the street you will find New Harvest Coffee (also with a very fine patio) and next door at 50 Sims, Revival Brewing and Lost Valley Pizza if you want a snack. Lost Valley delivers to the ISCo patio.

One of my favorite local businesses is K-Zao Studio, newly relocated to 49 Rathbone St. This full service bespoke tailoring studio caters primarily to the queer community and those who can’t find affirming clothing that fits. I got my first suit from them last year and it was a life changing experience; I immediately started planning for the next one. When I stopped by the studio to visit Bao and Atlas, they surprised me with the beginnings of the jacket for the 3 piece flannel suit I’ve commissioned for fall. If you’ve ever struggled to find tailored garments that fit your style, or to feel seen in your vision, I recommend checking them out. 

Our next Local Social

Local Social is August 24 at 5:30 p.m. at Hope & Main

Interested in local economies and investing? Come on out to our next Local Social at the Schoolyard Market at Hope & Main on Wednesday, August 24, at 5:30 p.m. The market features live music, vendors, and food and beverage trucks. You’ll meet some fun people, experience beautiful Warren, AND support a whole bunch of locally-owned businesses at once.

Hope & Main is located at 691 Main Street in Warren. It’s accessible by RIPTA #60 and just off the East Bay Bike Path. There is ample parking across the street in the Franklin Street parking lot.

Email jessica@localreturn.org for more information. See you then!

Meet Kate McGovern, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Kate McGovern

Kate McGovern is a champion for her neighborhood of Mount Pleasant. “In the center of this vibrant neighborhood at the corner of Academy and Chalkstone Avenues, you’ll find a beautiful new mural by AGonza on one side of the street and La Poblanita Market on the other,” she muses enthusiastically. “Our neighborhood businesses are a wonderful mix of old and new.”

Kate highlighted five Mount Pleasant businesses for Independents Month:

New garden gloves from Mount Pleasant Hardware
On Kate’s most recent visit to Mount Pleasant Hardware, she bought some new garden gloves.

Mount Pleasant Hardware has been “the Nuts and Bolts of the Community” for 99 years! Kate describes it as “a wonderful family business with the fourth generation now serving the community.”

Entry to Nubian Beauty Supply

Nubian Beauty Supply is the neighborhood’s newest small business, opened by Tanida and Tom West in February 2022. According to Kate, “Nubian has a terrific selection of hair care and beauty products.”

Awning sign of La Bella Boutique, Ropa Colombiana

“La Bella Boutique esta para servirle a usted y complacer su gustos tenemos estilo de ropas para todos.”

Cifuentes Upholstery sign

Cifuentes Upholstery, “a skilled neighborhood business,” has been in Mount Pleasant for five years. It is the place for all your upholstery needs: chairs, couches, car, boat seats, even pool covers.

Podmaska Insurance building

Podmaska Insurance is a family-owned business with more than 40 years of experience. “They can help you select the right insurance product for auto, home, rental, or business,” says Kate.

Meet Polaris, Neighborhood Champion

Polaris and Katrinkles

You might not have heard of Polaris MEP, but chances are good that you know a company they’ve helped. They’re a nonprofit organization that provides competitive business improvement programs to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry.

“Our team got so excited about your plan to spotlight local businesses for Independents Month,” Marketing Manager Erin Read described. “Naturally, we have dozens of clients we think make their communities special.” Here’s one of Polaris MEP’s suggestions: Katrinkles, which makes buttons and tools for fiber artists.

Katrinkles team
That’s Polaris MEP Project Manager Nathan Bonds holding the sign in this photo with the Katrinkles team.

Katrinkles is an independent, female-owned business that provides crafters with high quality buttons and tools for their projects. The team at Polaris MEP loves working with Katrinkles “because they are a true community of creative employees whose creative products reach makers of all kinds.”

As true Neighborhood Champions, the Katrinkles team makes monthly donations to groups that are committed to social change, such as Color of Change and the NAACP. They source materials locally whenever possible, seek out and promote BIPOC-owned businesses, and welcome interns from The Met School.

So many good reasons to buy #MadeInRI!