“Taste of Thayer Street” returned for its second year Wednesday evening, featuring 17 restaurants and seven retail stores, including the Brown Bookstore.
In contrast to last year’s $30 ticket, this year's tickets were $23 for adults, $15 for students and $7 for children. “We wanted the tickets to be a little more inclusive,” said Donna Personeus, executive director of Thayer Street District Management Authority, which hosted this year’s event.
All tickets allowed attendees to try free samples at participating restaurants and claim discounts at participating retail stores. Adult and student tickets included two free drink vouchers, while a children’s ticket included one.
Thayer Street was shut down from Bowen Street to Angell Street, allowing people to walk freely between vendors without worrying about traffic. Parking was provided at two University lots: No. 11 and No. 44.
Last year, Chinatown was crowned “King/Queen of Thayer Street,” Personeus said, which came with a monetary prize. This year’s event had sponsors, the largest being the University, which allowed TSDMA to award all participating businesses with a stipend.
“We took that sponsorship money and we gave it back to the businesses that wished to participate,” Personeus said. “We really wanted to make it as easy for them to participate as possible.”
Attendees were given a “Taste of Thayer Street” badge to wear while at the event. Some participating vendors had booths in the street, while others advertised their participation in the event with “Taste of Thayer Street” posters on their storefront windows. Tables were set along the street so people could sit and enjoy their food and beverages. Chalk drawings lined the street, and a cornhole board sat on the street ready for use.
“It’s great advertisement,” said Sadie Hector, a manager at La Creperie. “There has been lots of interest (in our booth), especially with a lot of people that are from out of town.”
Tanzeel Rehman, owner of Tribos Peri Peri, said that this year’s event was a lot “crazier” than last year’s. “It’s a great way for our business to get more visibility,” Rehman said. “Because we’re not directly on Thayer Street, it gives a lot of people the opportunity to try our food. … We’re the only Portuguese South African peri peri chicken restaurant in New England.”
“I think that Thayer Street is a really diverse place for food,” Rehman said. “We’re really happy to be a part of it.”
Ella Hochstadt ’26 said she hadn’t had the chance yet to explore the area since starting at Brown. The event was a good introduction to Thayer’s offerings.
“It’s a really good bang for your buck,” Hochstadt said. “I tried so many different places and now I know which ones I’d go back to.”
Megan Lewis, assistant director of real estate at the University, and Tina Thompson, assistant director of auxiliary housing at the University, were both in attendance at the event.
“Brown University owns a couple of properties on Thayer Street,” Lewis said. “Anything we can do as far as being a part of a community for Thayer Street is something we’re really interested in. We want to be a good neighbor.”
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for (vendors) to let us know what they offer and an opportunity for you to try different cuisines you wouldn’t normally try,” Thompson said.
Sean Reaves, a bartender at Andrea’s, roughly estimated that well over 100 people had been at their booth by 7 p.m.. Reaves guessed that last year’s turnout was about 40 people. “Now, there are 40 people right here,” he said, gesturing to the crowd in front of him.
“It's really good to see people coming out and being like, ‘Oh, I used to come in Andrea’s all the time,’” Reaves said. “We used to be closed for a long time, and now we’re back, so it’s kind of really good to see the community aspect of what Thayer Street is to Providence.”
Nicole Arrecis, an attendee from Pawtucket, heard about the event from Channel 10. “I think (Thayer Street) has improved a lot since I was a teenager. … Now you can actually walk around and there are tons of awesome restaurants,” she said. Arrecis added that she hopes the event continues in the coming years.
Thayer Street “is constantly evolving and changing,” Personeus said. “It’s always going to represent the neighborhood and the Brown student body, … and so it’s kind of fun to bring people to the street once a year to experience that change and to try a little something that they normally wouldn’t.”