SECOND ACT: Former nightclub owner Barry Blair is trying his hand at a new gig, utensil entrepreneur. The owner of now-closed Barry’s Nightclub in Warwick is selling the Prep N’ Pop, the sole product being sold under the Doodads LLC brand.
PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
One-time nightclub owner and Coventry native Barry Blair has long been a man about town who ran his business with a focus on going above and beyond for any customer.
Blair’s newest entrepreneurial venture is selling his Prep N’ Pop vegetable helper on QVC, the popular home-shopping network, since March 2010.
“[A product like this] comes around once in a lifetime because it is born out of necessity,” Blair said. “What happened with this tool is that when you try to go back to peel a potato by hand, it doesn’t make any sense anymore.”
Prep N’ Pop is, so far, the sole product being sold under the Doodads LLC brand that Blair began in 2007. It is a kitchen utensil that peels a potato hands-free and then pops the potato out of its cylinder.
The company was incorporated six years ago, but the idea came to light about 2004 and the story of how it came about goes back much further.
Blair grew up as the grandson of the owner of the locally famous Kid Blair’s Showboat, a popular Rhode Island wedding venue until it was destroyed by a 1976 fire.
“If you didn’t get married at the Showboat, you probably didn’t get married if you were from Rhode Island or southeastern Massachusetts from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s,” Blair said. “It was very, very popular and it was a real devastating loss.”
The Blair family business moved to Warwick and Barry’s father, Norman, suggested they open a restaurant that, unfortunately, did not do well. It was then, in 1979, that Barry suggested opening Barry’s Nightclub.
“Through my experience and my tenacity, we came up with some ideas that worked. It was a really special place,” Blair said. “There are a lot of great singers and then there’s a Michael Jackson. They have a special quality and gift. Barry’s was one of those things that happened in any field once every 50 years.”
Blair said the nightclub remained a success for more than two decades because it provided a great social experience for his customers, to whom staff regularly would offer rides home. Names were always remembered.