Not everyone who sees an abandoned gas station thinks, “This will be the perfect spot for my restaurant!” but Jared Melei, one of the owners of Huck’s Filling Station, says, “I drove by and instantly fell in love.”
On the corner of Division and Post Road in Warwick, Jared was most excited to join a community. “We want regulars, a sense of belonging with the people in the neighborhood.”
The restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling glass garage doors – “can you imagine how pretty it’ll be in winter?” he says – offers elevated comfort food. Take, for example, the Gruyere Grits. Decadent and savory, they’re made with local wild mushrooms and hazelnut gremolata: Italian flair mixed with a southern classic. And you must try their cocktails. Bartender extraordinaire Ryan Draine created a “NSFW” that will shatter your expectations of mezcal and tequila.
“We want customers to try something new,” Jared says. This filling station is the perfect place to fill up on food and drinks this winter. Now offering brunch Friday-Sunday and dinner seven days a week. -Jenny Currier
New Englanders love their seltzer water. Now, a Rhode Island distiller has turned this carbonated staple into something party-worthy: KEEL Sparkling, a “vodka soda.” Released in handy little cans, KEEL Sparkling is ready to consume, without the extra step of mixing clear liquor with bubbly soda.
Headquartered in Newport, KEEL Vodka has been a breakout success since its first batch was bottled in 2013. Along with its slick label and crisp finish, KEEL specializes in low-carb, gluten-free spirits; a standard serving of vodka contains zero grams of sugar and only 58 calories. The company’s slogan is “Stay Balanced,” and its holistic mission has won over consumers across the northeast and as far as Texas and Colorado.
KEEL’s new hard seltzer is also attractive to health-conscious drinkers, with only 80 calories per can. The new soda comes in two varieties, grapefruit and lemon lime. And with only 4 percent alcohol per volume, the new cans make it easy to sip responsibly. -Robert Isenberg
And just like that, Dave’s Fresh Marketplace turned 50 years old. It was in 1969 that Dave Cesario opened his fruit stand by the side of West Shore Road, calling it “Dave’s Fruitland.” Only half a century later, that microscopic business grew to become the largest independent supermarket chain in Rhode Island.
Dave’s boasts locations across the state, and they are heavily clustered here in South County – in Wickford, Quonset, and East Greenwich. That original location, in nearby Warwick, has been in the process of moving into a former Benny’s on the same road. The company has overseen a lot of moving and shaking, but it still heavily showcases local growers, especially in its produce aisles.
At press time, public celebrations were pretty modest. Dave’s solicited videos on social media, with participants raising money for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Whether or not Dave’s throws a bigger party, as you stock up on Confreda Farms’ veggies and Catanzaro’s Pasta Sauce, think a little “thank you” for five great decades. -Robert Isenberg