2014-01-09 / News

Restaurants report solid sales in 2013

By Ken Shane

Jamestown restaurateurs reported positive results for 2013, a year marked by two new restaurants, favorable summer weather and record sales for one establishment.

Mike Ridge has owned Spinnakers for nine years and said 2013 was his best yet. Spinnakers opened in April, a month earlier than in the past. For the second year in a row, Ridge kept his cafe open until the first Saturday in December. The new schedule worked out so well, Ridge said he will continue the extended season.

“It was our most successful year ever,” said Ridge, who usually closed on Columbus Day. “We’re very happy and proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2013.”

According to Ridge, the expansion of the restaurant last year, with a new dining room added, allowed him to stay open because he was able to make customers more comfortable during the less desirable weather. People are particular about where they spend their dollars these days, he said, and look for a place where they can get good value and high-quality service. Ridge believes his restaurant offers both. The cafe’s setting on the dock doesn’t hurt either, he says.

Ridge is in the process of securing a wine and beer license for Spinnakers, and hopes to have it when the restaurant opens in the spring.

“We’re always looking for ways that we can improve the experience, whether that’s from a facilities point of view, our menu or our service,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of things that we’re hoping to be able to put in place after the New Year and I think everybody will be receptive once we have that in place.”

John Recca, owner of the Narragansett Café and Jamestown Fish, said year-end figures are not yet set in stone, but he is confident both restaurants had excellent years. Recca said the ’Ganny set a new top-line revenue record, and Fish was well ahead of its 2012 earnings.

Fish celebrated its second anniversary on Dec. 21.

“I think we really got our act together on our outdoor patio and pizza bar,” Recca said. “We had a great summer season with a full patio most weekends. Also, I think our Bridge Bar has found its own identity with a more casual smallplate menu. Both of those revenue centers, as well as the main dining room, all contributed nicely to the bottom line.”

Jamestown Fish will be closed through Feb. 11. The Narragansett Café is open 365 days a year.

After months of extensive renovation, Simpatico Jamestown opened on May 20, 2013. According to general manager Amy Barclay, the season started strong for the new endeavor. She said the success came despite the fact some of the clients who frequented the restaurant under the old ownership were confused and unaware of the changes.

The good summer weather played an important part in Simpatico’s early success, especially with much of the restaurant’s seating in open air. Good results continued into the off-season with some changes to the existing staff. Barclay moved into the management role, while former GM Cliff Dimon returned to the position of co-executive chef, which he held some years ago. Cliff Farrell continues as the other executive chef.

“There have been a lot of large parties in the fall, but it’s been easier in comparison to the summer,” Barclay said.

Simpatico is now closed until mid-March.

Plantation at the Bay in the Bay Voyage Hotel also opened its doors this year. Although it opened in October and hasn’t had a full season, manager Chris Hyder said the early results have been positive.

“We were very well received by the community,” he said. “A lot of our regulars know each other, and I think they are generally happy to be here. We often have the same guests three or more times a week.”

Hyder says Plantation has attracted diners by offering a special on Monday nights. For $30, guests can choose two of the three entrees offered and a bottle of wine. The promotion was so successful it was extended to Thursday nights, with three different menu items for $35. Hyder says the three surf-and-turf options offered on Sunday nights, ranging in price from $24 to $32, are also popular. Plantation includes a tavern menu served at the bar for customers looking for lighter fare.

The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the winter, but Hyder said he looks forward to the warmer weather when diners can sit on the restaurant’s deck.

“In a few more months, they’ll be able to sit outside and dine with that beautiful view of the bay and the bridge,” Hyder said. “People are really looking forward to that.”

On the other end of the time scale, Chopmist Charlie’s has been a Jamestown institution and a favorite among locals and visitors for 22 years. Owner Chuck Masso said it was another good year for his restaurant.

“We had a great year,” Masso said. “Due to all the activity in town and the tourism, we were up about 2 percent over the previous year in terms of business. It was really a great summer.”

According to Masso, business remains consistent throughout the year at Chopmist Charlie’s due to the reputation it has built among local clientele. Customers enjoy the off-season special that allows them to get two entries and a bottle of wine for $29.95 on weeknights.

“It really keeps the restaurant full during the winter because it’s a great value,” Masso said. “The locals really look forward to the winter when we run that special.”

Masso said the opening of the two new restaurants on the island didn’t impact Chopmist Charlie’s in any negative way. He said the added activity brings more people onto the island, and that’s good for all of the local businesses.

Masso is currently gearing up for off-premises catering jobs in 2014.

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