Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
By Brian Barrett
PR Team member
Michelle Hughes is one of the most caring, unique, intelligent individuals I have had the pleasure to meet since relocating to the beautiful East Bay of Rhode Island. She has been an active member of the community for years and many of you probably already know her from her successful work as a Certified Public Accountant or because she is the Founder and an active member of the highly popular organization W.E.B.O.N.D. I’ve only known Michelle for a couple of months now and can’t speak highly enough of her character and personable professionalism. When speaking with Michelle you get a feeling that she genuinely cares about what you’re saying.
As a member of the PR Committee I jumped at the opportunity to write this article about Michelle. We had lunch at a local restaurant and I had the privilege of learning more about what makes her so special. She is highly family oriented and glows when talking about her husband and sons.
At one point in her life she was not exactly where she wanted to be and found an escape through education. While raising her first son she put herself through school and the rigorous testing to become a CPA. Although I can’t personally relate to raising a child or becoming a CPA, by all accounts they very difficult tasks to undertake. She successfully does both and so much more!
She’s had multiple successful jobs on her career path and started her own accounting firm in April 2014. Her firm recently merged with RichardsTimko, P.C. where she is the Senior Tax Manager. The merge has allowed her to expand the area in which she helps small businesses, condominium associations, non-profits, and individuals with their tax/accounting needs.
She was dubbed The Gardening CPA because of her love of horticulture at the beauty she creates with nature. I saw her creative mind at work first hand when coming back from lunch that afternoon. We pulled into the parking lot of her office on Metacom Ave in Warren and there was construction debris hanging out of the dumpster. Where some people might have seen an old junk door, Michelle saw the opportunity to create something beautiful. I fished the old door out of the dumpster for her and placed it in her car so she could take it home and use it in one of her art projects.
Michelle Hughes is an excellent choice for all of your business/personal accounting needs and an excellent resource for opportunities to become a more active and informed member of our community.
Paper, Packaging and Panache has been a staple of downtown Bristol for over 20 years! Co-owners Linda Arruda and Susan Curtis met in a small business class during the winter of 1996 and the rest is history. With some encouragement from their professor, Susan’s love of creating greeting cards and a mutual need for a new adventure; Paper, Packaging and Panache was born.
Since they first opened their doors the stationary industry has changed greatly. Influenced by advancing technology and more locations to buy greeting cards, from supermarkets to gas stations and seemingly everywhere in between, Susan and Linda knew they had to differentiate themselves. Inspired by her early years selling handmade greeting cards all over New England, Susan makes it a point to showcase local artists. They take pride in supporting local talent and providing aspiring artists the exposure many larger stores would deny.
In addition to the changing stationary industry they have watched Bristol grow through the years. They’ve noticed a steady increase in tourist traffic especially in the warmer months. They note a lot of college students and their families come in and are amazed by the natural beauty found in Bristol and throughout the east bay of Rhode Island.
Paper, Packaging and Panache is the local go to place for greeting cards and invitations for all holidays, events, and occasions. They have also expanded their offerings over the years and specialize in children’s toys and clothing. So next time you find yourself strolling around beautiful downtown Bristol, stop in, check out their impressive inventory, and do your part to support your local businesses. Tell them that the East Bay Chamber of Commerce sent you!
By Beth Russell
PR Team Member
If you’re looking for a gift, daisy dig’ins is the place to go. Unique items can be found throughout the store. There are bath & body products, clothing, jewelry, home décor and of course beautiful flowers. It’s easy to lose yourself while admiring all the beautiful items on the shelves & on the walls. Lois Coppolino, a life-long resident of Barrington, opened the store in 1977. It started as a floral design store. In 1986 Lois and her husband, Lou built their own store. Lois prides herself on always listening to her customer’s needs. She offers quality products and each customer is greeted with a smile. In addition to the beautiful gift items, the store still operates the floral business, providing flowers for weddings or special occasions.
In an effort to keep the inventory fresh and the sale items from taking up space, daisy dig’ins Off the Rack opened in Waseca Plaza last year. It began on a trial basis, but due to its overwhelming success, the store is now permanent. The store is stocked with All Sale items and like the main store, there’s a wide variety of items. After being in business for almost 40 years, Lois still loves what she does. The business has allowed her to use her creative skills and spend time with her customers, which she loves!
By Beth Carter
PR Team Member
You may not think of Warren as a resort town but when you step into this store you feel like you are in the tropics. Owner Artiss Akarra has such breathtaking displays of color with his swimsuits and sunglasses that you almost feel the sand between your toes.
Artiss is a 2000 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and started his business five years ago designing sunglasses. At first he only had three different styles but now has over 150 SKUs. All have the proper UV protection and come in a variety of colors and styles. In June 2016, he opened his store on Water Street which made the most sense being by the water. He also has a mobile boutique that he brings to events (usually in downtown Providence) to sell his items; it even has a dressing room!
All the swimwear is produced in Brazil and it is very well constructed. Artiss creates themes for each collection and is currently showcasing his Miami Vice line. The fabric is high quality and includes bikinis, retro swimwear, and his very popular swim dress. Women of all ages will feel confident and beautiful no matter what design they choose. He also has recently introduced beach bags.
Artiss wanted to create an experience for anyone who walks in his store. It goes beyond purchasing a swimsuit, bag or sunglasses. He also hosts a monthly "affair" which has been very successful. People come to meet new people but he also has had massage therapists and others to make a customer feel good even on the inside. Like the name implies, you will feel like part of a community.
At this time of year you may yearn to be in warmer climate so come visit United Republic Affair. You will definitely get that beach feel and beyond.
By Beth Carter
PR Team Member
Once you walk into the Bristol office, you get the feeling that you are in good hands. From the friendly receptionists, Lauren and Lorraine, to the other members of the team, it is an environment that focuses on your well-being.
OPT was founded in 2000 by two owners and has grown significantly since then. In 2002, the Tiverton office was opened and Amy Simmons was a student conducting her first clinical. Since then several offices have been opened in Rhode Island and one had been started in Westport, MA but has since merged with a RI one.
As Clinical Director for the Warren and Bristol offices and Director - Development for the whole company, Amy manages a team of 15 dedicated people who work collaboratively so each patient feels that the whole team is ensuring the best care possible. They not only offer physical therapy but also strength and conditioning services and a six-week summer camp for athletes. In addition, they have athletic trainers that they are under contract to work at certain high schools with the student athletes.
Come in and meet with one of their staff. They will conduct an initial evaluation in a private room to evaluate your issues and hear your concerns. They will develop a plan and then work with you in an airy and welcoming room on various stretches and other means to get you back to feeling your best.
When a local restaurant is getting a lot of traction among the younger population, and you start to hear about it as a “favorite hangout” it is time to check it out. Head down Maple Avenue in Barrington to experience what could be the most delicious thing you do this fall.
Opening in January, 2015, Crepelicious is owned and operated by a local husband/wife team who have somehow found a creative way to fuse their Thai heritage with their love for travel (to France, in particular) and a skill for baking. The result is something very special.
Crepelicious offers so much more than just crepes. Yes, there is a wide variety of both sweet and savory but they also offer special desserts to order. Their signature cake the CREPE CAKE, is quite possibly the most delicious thing anyone has ever indulged in. (Think 10+ layers of thin crepe separated by fresh whipped cream.) Previously, you would have to travel to New York City to enjoy the Crepe Cake, but the owners worked hard to master this unique creation and Crepelicious is the only place in Rhode Island where you can get it.
Sticking to the Parisian ambiance, Crepelicious is open till 9:00 pm, making it a great destination for a late evening stroll for dessert – you won’t be disappointed.
You may be surprised to know that Crepelicious hosts birthday parties and can cater your special event! This place is gaining in popularity though, so book in advance! Crepelicious was awarded the BEST OF RHODE ISLAND editor’s pick for best crepes.
Bagels Etc., is a place where friends meet and everyone is made to feel like family. Sounds like a commercial for "Cheers" and it's true. Opening its doors in 1989, Tim Gordon worked for his parents in this family owned and run business. In 2000, Tim bought the business and has continued to run Bagels Etc. as a family.
As the times changed Tim realized that the business needed change to attain sustainability. And so that was what he did. Along with bagels still being "made fresh everyday with love and not preservatives" on the premises, he has introduced more choices on the menu. Breakfast includes egg sandwiches, and for lunch there are now sandwiches and wraps made from a full line of Boars Head meats and cheeses. If you are in the mood for a salad, they have them. How about a cup of soup? The choices don't stop there. Having a party, call and order a party platter.
The one thing that has not changed is excellence in customer service and smiling friendly employee attention to customers. Tim a big proponent of hiring local students; he talks of their smiling faces and great attitudes. He spoke of them going off to college and returning to their jobs when home for the summer. Commitment to the community is a "must" on Tim's list. They sponsor local teams in football and baseball. But it does not stop at sports; there is Stage Masters, Arts Alive and The Education Foundation to name a few.
It is a place "where friends meet and everyone is family."
By Brian Barrett
Trafford Restaurant opened in June 2011 by William Kane, Margauerite Kane, and RussellGoyette. In November 2012 Russell Goyette took full control of restaurant operations and things have been soaring ever since. Russell was nice enough to meet with me for this write up and provide an inside look at his pride and joy beautifully located on waterfront in Warren’s historic district. From our conversation it was clear to see his passion for the restaurant and the people who work there.
When I mentioned I’ve heard good things about the restaurant Russell replied “a company is only as good as the people it employs.” Most of the employees at Trafford have been there for several years. There is a family like atmosphere among staff and he has a very hands-on approach to running the business. Throughout our discussion multiple employees stopped by to check in and comfortably ask him questions. Many of his workers will be heading back to college soon and although he’s not thrilled about being short staffed he’s proud of how smart they are. Many of his workers have been there since they were in high school and he’s enjoyed watching them grow into young adults with promising futures.
I asked how he’d classify the style of food they make and he replied simply “fresh”. From the quality cuts of meat to the produce to the fish right off the docks; Trafford puts an emphasis on using only fresh, mainly locally sourced, ingredient’s. In addition to the exceptional food the location of this venue is top notch.
Trafford has a large sunset facing deck on the water in the back with a bar and plenty of dining tables, a spacious inside dining area with large windows and an upstairs with addition seating and another bar. The upstairs can be rented for private functions (seats 60 comfortably for sit down dining and 100 for buffet style eating). It’s a popular location for baby showers, birthdays, work functions, engagement parties and other such festivities. While we were talking in his office I heard a surprise party unfold in the background, everyone sounded to be enjoying themselves very much.
This restaurant is absolutely worth checking out for a nice meal with loved ones or a drink on the deck with a beautiful panoramic view of the water. There is plenty of parking, valet provided during the busy season, and a dock slip available to customers with boats, make sure you call in advance for dock availability.
So stop by Trafford Restaurant at 285 Water St, Warren, RI and let Russell know the East Bay Chamber of Commerce sent you!
Located at 1 State Street in Bristol, the Judge Roy Bean Saloon offers casual dining with beautiful views of the bay. It’s understandable that co-owners, Zack Rivers and Randy Ross fell in love with the location. On a nice summer day, the windows come out so that you can enjoy the summer breeze and view. The beautiful woodwork and inviting ambience make Judge Roy Bean Saloon, a great place to meet friends while enjoying exceptional food and drinks. The food is made from scratch using local ingredients. Chef Randy Ross has created an interesting menu with items such as the Truffled Wellington Burger, the JR Burger complete with bacon jam, fried egg & cheddar cheese and the Grilled Atlantic Salmon.
There’s live music offered 3 or 4 nights a week. There’s also an event room on the second floor. It’s great for rehearsal dinners or surprise parties and can accommodate 45 people for a sit down meal or up to a 100 people for a buffet. There are many different meal and buffet options offered.
So, if you haven’t been to the Judge Roy Bean Saloon recently, check it out. It’s a great location and the food is wonderful.
By Beth Russell
The Children’s Workshop prides itself on providing children and their families with high quality care and learning. The Warren location is just one of their 19 early learning centers. Their main objective is to ensure excellent programs, dedicated caregivers and classrooms that are warm and inviting.
The Warren location is very proud to be a NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited center. Their experienced team of early childhood professionals is committed to the unique and individual development of every child in their care. Each of their teachers is a professional in the field of early childhood education and has been carefully selected through an extensive interview and orientation process. In addition, all of the teachers receive ongoing classroom support, supervision, continuing education, and extensive opportunities for professional development. A research and evidence based curriculum created by their bright and talented education team, provides enough flexibility to be tailored to each child’s interests and the needs of the families. Their mission is based on the belief that ‘family always comes first’.
The Children’s Workshop is actively engaged in the community. They have partnered with RI Mentoring Partnership to form their own Mentoring Program. Mentors spend 1 hour a week mentoring children on-on-one in the local schools. They have also partnered with Head Start to provide additional resources to children and their families. The Children’s Workshop has also collaborated with other local organizations to help those in need in the community.
In addition to their many year-round program, the Warren location offers an exciting summer camp program that includes weekly themes, multiple field trips and a variety of activities for every child. Did you know that they have a swimming pool? They have a certified lifeguard on duty every day and they offer weekly swim lessons to the campers, which are also open to the public.
Local Bristol resident, Abbie-Jo Francis is the Director of the Warren Center. She has an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is a RI certified teacher and has 20 years of experience teaching and working with children. She has been with The Children’s Workshop since 2002. Abbie invites you to “stop by and visit, so we can show you the newly renovated school and introduce you to their fantastic teachers”.