24-hour grocer coming to downtown

By
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Students will have another option for late-night snacks when a 24-hour grocery store opens in downtown Providence in late April. Gourmet Heaven, which has two other stores in New Haven, is slated to open in a vacant building at Weybosset and Union streets owned by the Rhode Island School of Design.

“We’ve been working for years to get a grocery store,” said Joanna Levitt ’02, a representative of Cornish Associates, the development company behind the project. Most Providence residents cite a grocery store as downtown’s greatest need, perhaps second only to a gym, Levitt said.

Previous attempts to get a grocer like Trader Joe’s to open a location in the city have failed due to parking concerns. But this problem will be ameliorated for Gourmet Heaven, which hopes to cater to university students who rely on walking or public transportation, Levitt said. Trader Joe’s opened its first Rhode Island location in Warwick last year.

Both New Haven locations are on Yale-owned property, so “being in a RISD-owned building is nothing new” to (Gourmet Heaven), whose model is built around universities, Levitt said.

With free Wi-Fi, a seating area and a New York City-style hot-and-cold bar, the store will be a “real city market,” Levitt said. They will also serve unique foods, like Korean candies.

Gourmet Heaven will be affordable and “not too high-end,” she said.

The store was originally supposed to open in March, but “there are always setbacks” with building projects, said Levitt, adding that the recent snowstorms have delayed progress.

A menu of Gourmet Heaven’s planned offerings is available on its Web site.