PAWTUCKET — Despite the recent closing of one downtown restaurant and some less-than-rosy assessments by other Main Street business owners, the proprietor of Plouffe's Cup N' Saucer says he has been open for three years now at his location and is optimistic about the future.
Robert Plouffe said that when he first looked at the vacant restaurant site, which is located in a small strip of retail stores at 271 Main St., “there was nothing here.” He credits the city's Planning and Redevelopment Department with assisting him in renovating the leased space, which had been the original Cup N' Saucer restaurant, but had sat empty and in a state of disrepair for many years.
While then-Mayor James Doyle, former Planning Director Michael Cassidy, Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer Herb Weiss and others involved in Planning and Redevelopment attended his grand opening, Plouffe says the involvement with city officials pretty much ended there. He maintains that current city officials, from the mayor on down, “should be involved. They should come in, say 'hi.' Have a cup of coffee to support the local businesses. ”
Yet, despite feeling largely ignored by city officials, Plouffe said the Cup N' Saucer is “here plugging along. I employ seven people,” he added. While business isn't as brisk as he would like, he said the eatery has managed to stay in business serving breakfast and lunch to those living and working in and around the downtown. He maintains that having the right price points, desirable menu items, and attentive service are key to a successful restaurant operation, and these are things that the city cannot provide.
“The city is the city,” Plouffe stated. “I'm not looking for money from the city, but I would like more support from the people in the city. “The mayor doesn't come in. The firemen, police...Come in and have a cup of coffee.” He said he thinks he actually gets more customers from Providence than he does from Pawtucket and questions why this is.
Plouffe said he has taken many matters involving his business, such as fixing leaks and other minor repairs, and maintaining the exterior and sidewalk area, into his own hands and thinks others should do likewise. He added that there are numerous people with a vested interest in the downtown who are doing their share and more. “There is a lot of positive,” he said.
Plouffe noted that the nearby Anchor Recovery Community Center, cited by some business owners as have a negative impact on the downtown's redevelopment, “is one of our best neighbors.” He said the Anchor Recovery Center's Director, Jim Gillen, has taken an active and hands-on approach in keeping order not only at the center but in the downtown as a whole. The Pawtucket Foundation has also been helpful in trying to encourage revitalization, he said.
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