PROVIDENCE – The owner of a Massachusetts-based specialty organic market chain will be welcoming customers to its first Rhode Island location Friday, providing a much-needed grocery option to downtown residents and visitors.
Rory’s Market and Kitchen will occupy more than 6,000 square feet on the ground floor of the six-story Nightingale Building at 113 Washington St., between Mathewson and Clemence streets. Founded in 1978 by Darby Ziruk, its first location opened in 1978 in Dennisport, Mass. The second store launched in Mashpee, Mass., in 2014. Ziruk’s daughter Rory Eames took ownership of the company in 2019.
In addition to “grocery staples,” Rory’s offerings will include a wide selection of organic produce, specialty items and a juice bar. An all-day café menu of breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and hot bowls will also be available. The store will also have a selection of prepared foods for takeout and provide a catering service, said Eames.
While there are many plentiful restaurant and dining options downtown, Eames said recent growth in residential apartments in the area spurred the need for more food shopping alternatives. Many downtown residents currently have to drive or take public transportation to do their grocery shopping.
Construction of the $55 million Nightingale Building was completed last year on land that was formerly a parking lot. It was developed by a team of project partners including the owner, Cornish Associates, the Nordblom management company and real estate investment firm Boston Andes Capital. The six-story building has 12,000 total square feet of ground-level retail space and 143 residential apartment units on the top floors.
Eames said the store will open at 9 a.m. Friday, with regular operating hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. thereafter. They hope to bring a combination of “fast casual” and convenience to downtown customers. Rory’s entire menu will be served all day along with “rapid” online ordering options as well.
“We are super excited to be in a downtown community among the many local business owners,” she said. “We will have something for everyone.”
Eames said the company already had a longstanding relationship with Cornish, who also owns the Mashpee Commons, the site of their second store in Massachusetts.
“It was sort of a natural step,” she said of the decision to open in Providence.
The company conducted a feasibility study of various locales before deciding on downtown Providence, a neighborhood which has traditionally lacked grocery options and has seen an increase of apartment residents.
And while many business owners in Rhode Island have struggled to hire and retain adequate staffing, Eames said her experience in Providence was a breeze. They expect to open their doors fully staffed with both upper management employees that have made the trek from the Cape Cod and new hires from the local workforce.
“I don’t know how it was not [more difficult to find employees],” said Eames. “We had an enormous number of applicants.”
Although opening a new business remains “a long and stressful process,” Eames said their experience through the permitting process with city officials went smoothly.
“The city has been amazing. We’ve had such a seamless experience with everyone,” she said. “All of the agencies have been very helpful.”
Rory’s Massachusetts locations have licenses to serve retail beer and wine. However, Rhode Island state law prohibits alcohol from being sold in grocery stores.
“We are not able to [sell alcohol] within the footprint of this store,” she said. “But we haven’t fully explored that yet.”
Eames hired Providence-based artist and interior designer Alex Corriera to assist with the aesthetic. She hopes the new store will be both a destination and a stop for busy locals to grab a bite while on the move.
“Hopefully, this will draw more people downtown,” she said.
Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may reach him at Allen@PBN.com.
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