When I was a kid growing up in Seekonk, Mass., my mom would take me to The Arcade in nearby Providence, an imposing old three-story structure with open core and stores scattered around the perimeter. Looking over the ornate railings to the ground far, far below was enough to scare me back into the comparatively pleasant chore of shopping for shoes.
The Westminster Arcade, as it is formally known, is a National Historic Landmark, and is being renovated with new retail shops, restaurants and 48 micro-lofts designed for simplified, very cozy living (the loft designs were featured in an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York this year, called “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers” ) The Arcade has picked restaurants with Rhode Island ties to be featured in a structure built in 1828, the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States, built with imposing columns in front in the Greek rectilinear temple style.
The restaurants, which are scheduled to open this month, include Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar, a new restaurant specializing in local foods and beers, sourced mainly from within 40 miles of the city. Another is New Harvest Coffee & Spirits, which will serve – and teach about – the craft of brewing coffee, and also have small-batch bourbons and whiskeys, coffee cocktails and pastries. Livi’s Pockets is a Mediterranean sandwich shop which will feature pita pockets and a salad bar.
The Arcade will also have a variety of retail outlets, including Luniac Glamour, Jessica Ricci Jewelry, Royal Male and others, which now that I'm grown up, shouldn't be as acrophobic as it used to be. They're all on the first floor. For more information, visit www.arcadeprovidence.com