June 7, 2023


Be Inspired By Food

Searching back at RI’s culinary giants and the initially wave of floor-breaking dining places

Elizabeth "Amara" Holmes in 1984 at her  Amara's Restaurant  on Wickenden Street in Providence. She ran the restaurant from 1978 til 1987 when she became ill.

The roots of the culinary revolution that has introduced Providence notoriety go back again to the 1970s and ’80s.  

The legendary Leo’s, a downtown cafe and bar on Chestnut Road, was opened by John Rector in 1974. People nonetheless discuss about their hummus and chili. But it was also a accumulating spot for artists and musicians, wrote David Norton Stone in “Lost Restaurants of Providence.” He termed it a “dialogue bar.”  Other individuals reported it was like absolutely nothing that came prior to it.

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Not extensive soon after Leo’s opened, a young RISD sculptor named George Germon was assisting Dewey Dufresne (who opened Joe’s sandwich shop in 1969) with the layout and setting up of a new restaurant on Mathewson Avenue, Joe’s Upstairs. Germon would grow to be head chef there in 1975 and work with his foreseeable future spouse and spouse, Johanne Killeen.

John Elkhay and chef Jules Ramos at XO Cafe.

“Joe’s Upstairs was way forward of its time Dewey utilized outstanding substances,” Germon, advised The Journal in 2000. “At an early age, we realized the relevance of top quality from Dewey.” 

Joe’s Upstairs shut in 1977 and Dufresne went on to have a thriving occupation in New York Metropolis, which includes doing work with son Wylie at the heralded wd-50.

Germon and Killeen went on to famously open up Al Forno in a cozy specialized niche of a house at 7 Steeple St. in 1980 prior to transferring to South Principal Street in 1989. 

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In this 2003 photo, George Germon and Johanne Killeen take a moment as the tables of the upstairs dining room are being prepared for the evening.

But in advance of Al Forno opened, three other restaurants, all of which opened in 1978, aided transform the dining scene. 

Bluepoint Oyster Bar and Restaurant, at 99 North Principal St., was wildly popular and experienced an 18-yr run until finally the building was to be demolished. Owners Paul Inveen and Maureen Pothier chose not to relocate.

There was Amara’s, wherever Elizabeth “Amara” Holmes served vegetarian dishes and natural meals in an antique household in Fox Place. The cafe operated from 1978 to 1987 and its spots included East Providence and Newport. It closed after Holmes became ill. She died a couple of months afterwards.