After Benny’s announcement, other RI institutions confident about future

Photos: Kim Kalunian/WPRI-TV

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The announcement late last week that Benny’s would be closing all 31 of it stores by the end of the year was met with shock and sadness, but many on social media also expressed concern about other beloved Rhode Island institutions.

So Eyewitness News decided to pay some of them a visit and ask: how’s business?

Del’s Lemonade Executive Vice President Joseph Padula said he was surprised to hear the news about Benny’s.

“The small, little companies need to stay in Rhode Island and we need to keep the state of Rhode Island going,” Padula said Tuesday. “I hope that we don’t see more of them starting to falter.”

Padula suggested that another Rhode Island-based retailer – Ocean State Job Lot – could slide into some of the Benny’s locations. A spokesperson for Benny’s on Monday said there could be an announcement in the coming weeks about the storefronts it currently occupies. (There was no comment from Job Lot.)

Del’s is set to celebrate 70 years in business next year. Its owners say it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon – and the owners of Newport Creamery say the same.

Photos: Kim Kalunian/WPRI-TV

“We’ve had to continually evolve the brand to the changing marketplace of the restaurant business and Rhode Island economics,” Newport Creamery President William Janikies said.

Janikies said the ice cream parlor was saved from bankruptcy by his family back in 2001.

“It was a great brand, and it was a part of the fabric of Rhode Island,” he said. “We couldn’t see a great brand like Newport Creamery go away.”

The home of the Awful Awful is set to celebrate 90 years in business in 2018.

Both Padula and Janikies agreed it’s locally owned businesses like theirs that give people a sense of place.

“It’s a brand that I grew up with up as a kid,” Janikies said. “I went here with my siblings and my parents and had an Awful Awful and a Big Beef.”

“We love it,” he added. “It’s here to stay for today, tomorrow and generations to come.”