When I initially thought about locations for this walk, I naturally began with places that would have a lot to offer in the way of entertainment, food and shopping. Hope Street on the East Side of Providence fit that description perfectly. Indeed, their motto is “Eat. Shop. Play”.
My wife and I began the morning at Three Sisters, located at the end of Hope Street, where Blackstone Boulevard and Hope come together, next to India Restaurant. We normally go there for the amazing ice cream (if you like cardamom, try the kulfi). We’re not alone in our love for Three Sisters frozen treats, as it turns out. Just ask Rhode Island Food Fights - Three Sisters won the “People’s Choice” award at the Ice Cream Throwdown last weekend! But today it was breakfast we were after, so we stepped up to the counter area to place our orders. His and hers breakfast burritos and coffee! We took full advantage of another beautiful weekend morning and sat at one of the comfortable sidewalk cafe tables. It’s a perfect vantage point to people and dog-watch. Over breakfast, we talked about where we wanted to visit next.
Realizing that it was Sunday morning and most shops don’t open until 11 or noon, we decided to take a leisurely walk down the Blackstone walking path. Although it’s not part of the Hope Street experience, Blackstone Boulevard is an area that’s not to be missed if you enjoy nature and beautiful homes. It’s an area very well-known for having some of the highest property values on the East Side of Providence, if not the entire city. We strolled along with the joggers, walkers, and those walking dogs, while the occasional sprinter flew by in a blur.
Our walk left us thirsty and seeking refreshment as the temperature continued to rise. Wildflour provided us with an amazingly delicious organic fruit smoothie to replenish our energy and a place to relax; after all, it IS Sunday. Wildflour Vegan Bakery and Juice Bar isn’t technically part of the Hope Street collection of shops, given its spot at the end of Hope and the beginning of East Street. However, with its location just a block away from Three Sisters, Blackstone Boulevard, and India Restaurant - and its delicious and creative concoctions - we had to include it in our day. I recouped with a Sweet Heat smoothie comprised of pineapple, blueberry, and mango with carrot and ginger juice and a little cayenne. Melissa enjoyed the Yellow Submarine; a combination of mango, pineapple, and banana blended with fresh squeezed orange juice. After eyeing the case of fresh vegan baked treats, we chose some coconut date granola to take home.
As the 12 o’clock hour approached, we headed back to Hope Street to continue our journey. The very popular Frog and Toad was just opening their doors as we approached, and we were pleasantly greeted by Henry as he placed some very cool art on the sidewalk. Melissa has been a few times, and purchased some great holiday gifts last year. It was my first time, and when I was talking with friends about places to visit for this Neighborhood Walk, Frog and Toad was the one place that kept coming up. I can see why; friendly and helpful staff compliment the very East Side vibe of the shop and its wares. It was my impression that the majority of the pieces being sold were sourced from local artisans either in Rhode Island or New England, with only a few exceptions. Always happy to support small business, we left with our fair share!
Our last stop was Olive del Mondo, an olive oil and vinegar-tasting bar owned by Salvatore and Jennifer Fuccillo, which opened in June 2012. The newly-opened shop felt inviting and comfortable - mainly due to the kindness of Salvatore and Jennifer - but also because of the outstanding layout and attention to quality and detail that has gone into its opening. Jennifer invited us to sample the olive oils and vinegars and we moved around the room tasting expertly blended and infused liquid gold. I was particularly impressed with her knowledge of their purveyors, and the stories she and Salvatore told us about the passion and quality that goes into making such delicious products. Of course, we couldn’t leave without bottling up a few varieties. The cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar and organic Persian lime olive oil will be featured on our salads tonight!
Melissa and I bid farewell to Hope Street and its many fantastic shops and restaurants. I really enjoyed this walk; it held everything that I look for in a unique neighborhood. There are so many other great spots to check out here, as well as a farmers market on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Next time!
On this visit, we met new people just starting their journey, and we came across folks who’ve been doing it for a while. The message was the same from place to place - passion for what you do, quality products, and respect for your customers continue to be keys to success for small business. The shops that we visited on Hope Street get it right.