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Sharks, sneakers headline Thayer summer openings

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

As a new fall semester begins, new restaurants and stores have begun to pop up on Thayer Street, though some shuttered windows remain.

Shark Sushi Bar and Grill, at 275 Thayer, opened about two months ago and has enjoyed “excellent” business, said owner Ray Hugh. The restaurant, which prominently houses a tank with a five-foot shark, sees customers from “all walks of life,” including many students, Hugh said.

Next door, Baja’s, serving Tex-Mex cuisine as well as Philly cheesesteaks, opened recently next door. Owner David Douros, who has four other restaurants near the University of Rhode Island’s campus, said he is accustomed to serving a student population.

“I want cater to everybody,” Douros said. “People come in with their friends … and one person will say they want a healthy vegetarian burrito and the other will say, ‘I want something with meat.'”

Baja’s unusual combination of cuisines was inspired by the economy, Douros said. Having two operations under one roof reduces overhead and expands the client base, he said.
Baja’s also offers soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt — for post-dinner snacks, according to Douros.

Meanwhile, at 290 Thayer, Beadworks has relocated and been replaced by Sneaker Junkies, which opened Aug. 1.

The shoe store, which also has a downtown location, chose to expand to Thayer because of its “good traffic,” said owner Maher Najjar.

Sneaker Junkies brings a “different look to Thayer Street … adding a little variety for the average shopper,” Najjar said.

Down the road at 215 and 217 Thayer, workers will soon begin constructing the interior of the Better Burger Company, said owner Andy Mitrelis. The sandwich shop should open in a couple of months, he said.

Not all Thayer businesses have fared so well. The storefront on the corner of Thayer and Angell Street that formerly housed Roba Dolce remains boarded up, after the Italian cafe was evicted last spring for apparently getting behind on its rent.

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