CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ After strong wind gusts overnight dealt a lasting blow to their outdoor dining setups, three Pawtuxet Village restaurants joined together Wednesday morning to help one another pick up the pieces.
Bagel Express Co-Owner Ray Verrochio was the first to arrive and assess the damage.
“‘What’s happening in the village?’ That’s the first thing I could think of,” Verrochio recalled.
Cranston was one of the hardest hit communities by the fast-moving storm, which knocked out power to thousands across the state.
Not only did the storm damage Verrochio’s outdoor dining area, it also toppled the seating arrangements outside both Revolution American Bistro and Fellini Pizzeria.
He contacted the owners of Fellini and Revolution to alert them to the damage. The three of them then banded together to clean up and make necessary repairs.
Fellini Pizzeria was hit the hardest. The overnight wind gusts sent chairs, tables and umbrellas flying, ripped apart several of her outdoor tents and destroyed her outdoor heaters.
Verrochio said they, like many restaurants across the state, have relied on their outdoor seating arrangements to keep their businesses afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This parking lot has turned into a saving grace for all three of us here,” Verrochio said.
The damage, owner Kristy Knoedler tells 12 News, is enough to set her business back for awhile.
“You get momentum … then something like this, it pushes you back and it’s frustrating,” she said.
Knoelder said despite the damage, she is powering through with the support of her fellow Pawtuxet Village restaurant owners and the community.
“There was a woman out here earlier … She wants to pay for some of the damage,” she said. “That’s how this community is.”