Thayer Street changes include nightlife expansion, liquor license rejection

By
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thayer Street is crawling with first-years eager to furnish dorm rooms, seek out new haunts and enjoy one last restaurant meal before commencing to fend for themselves at dining halls once the semester begins. The busy thoroughfare – once widely touted as the most eclectic shopping district in Providence but more recently panned for becoming a veritable food court – is much the same as it was at the end of the spring semester. But returning students might notice a few changes.

Liquor license deniedThayer Street Wings and Things, a restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern food, tapas and chicken wings, will open at 272 Thayer St. this fall. A Sovereign Bank satellite previously occupied the space.

The owner, Alisha Sarkisian, applied over the summer for a Class B liquor license, which would allow her to serve wine and beer. In July, her request was denied automatically by the Providence Board of Licenses after it sparked opposition from nearby property owners. According to city regulations, a liquor license request is denied if the owners of over 50 percent of property within a 200-foot radius of the establishment object.

The University owns several properties within that radius, including the Brown Office Building, which houses the bookstore, according to Michael Chapman, vice president for public affairs and University relations.

“The University doesn’t want to see an increase on Thayer of establishments that are primarily liquor bars. (Thayer Street Wings and Things) was obviously going to be a bar,” Chapman said.

“We don’t want to micromanage everything on Thayer Street – we look at them on a case-by-case basis, and in this instance, we felt that granting a license … would lead to an increase in the amount of alcohol consumption, especially in the late evening and early morning hours, and contribute to disorderly conduct – that’s why we opposed,” he added.

There are more than 10 establishments with liquor licenses on Thayer Street. The Board of Licenses most recently granted a license to Spats, a sports bar and grill that opened last spring on Angell Street, though property owners near Thayer Street, including the University, are currently appealing that license.

Late-night loungingKartabar, a restaurant located at 284 Thayer St., will expand this fall in an attempt to provide more of a “private, loungy” atmosphere for late-night revelers, said owner Phillipe Maatouk. Until recently, Maatouk operated Phillipe’s, a sandwich shop, out of the space next door to Kartabar. He will soon unveil Phillipe’s Room, which will be accessible through the main restaurant and feature a second bar and space for private parties.

The new space will cater to a clientele similar to Paragon and Viva – which are located at 234 Thayer St. and 230 Thayer St., respectively – but Maatouk said the bars will not compete directly for customers.

“I don’t compete with anybody. It’s all friendly,” said Maatouk, whose wife and father-in-law happen to own Viva and Paragon.

The establishments are all open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, in compliance with city curfew laws.

In brief: New openings, closings and name changesOnly In Rhode Island, a specialty shop that strictly sells products made by local artists or manufactured in the Ocean State, opened its second location (the first is in Newport, R.I.) at 297 Thayer St. in May. The store replaced Oop!, also a specialty merchant, which closed in January to focus on other locations.

Sovereign Bank, which previously occupied space at 272 Thayer St., moved down the block to 212 Thayer St. and is now the most visible bank near campus, with 18 ATMs located within 1.5 miles of Thayer Street.

The @ Ease Café, located at 110 Waterman St., retained the same owners but goes by two new names as of Monday: Spice, an “authentic Thai Bistro,” and East Side Perks, a continuation of the café-type establishments that have long inhabited the space.

“We did a lot of remodeling to have two separate things in one place,” said Alan MacIntosh, the manager at East Side Perks. Spice, which now features an expanded, full-service Thai menu, will close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. East Side Perks, which serves a condensed breakfast menu and new sandwiches in addition to its traditional café fare, will stay open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and at least midnight on weekends, MacIntosh said.

EG Photo and Studio, previously located at 300 Thayer St., moved over the summer to 34 Governor St.

Asian Paradise, located at 165 Angell St., is temporarily closed for remodeling, though ownership has not changed. It will reopen this fall as Phonatic, a Chinese restaurant. Liquid Lounge, located in the space below Asian Paradise, will continue regular hours of operation.

Angell Street Curiosities, a knick-knack shop located at 183 Angell St., closed its doors for good last spring. Planned Parenthood Express, a satellite of the larger Planned Parenthood location downtown, replaced the store in April.