New Arigna will open in former Classic Restaurant

New Arigna will open in former Classic Restaurant

Gordon Hyde, owner of Arigna and Murphy’s Law in Pawtucket, is building out his new Arigna location on Charles Street in North Providence, the former home of the Classic Restaurant. (Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A successful Pawtucket restaurateur is set to try his luck just over the line in North Providence, planning a second location for Arigna Irish Pub & Coal Fire Kitchen in the former Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Restaurant & Lounge on Charles Street.

Gordon Hyde, who owns both the Arigna location on Armistice Boulevard in Pawtucket and Murphy’s Law Irish Pub on George Street in Pawtucket, told The Breeze he’s planning to open a new Arigna at the former Classic Restaurant at 1052 Charles St.

Hyde said Arigna should be open by February or March of 2018. Town officials have already granted all approvals for the project, said Building Inspector Mike Carnevale, and the liquor license comes with the property.

Hyde is also purchasing two lots across Charles Street for parking, part of a pending acquisition he and Jimmy Burchfield Sr. say will help transform the evolving Marieville neighborhood.

Everyone knew the Classic Restaurant, Burchfield said in his Charles Street office Monday, and more than three years after the last restaurant operated there, he wasn’t going to settle for just any operator.

Arigna will join other new stores, including Cumberland Farms diagonally across the street, in helping to reshape the village, said Burchfield.

“This was one of the most vibrant areas of the town, and it’s going to be one of the most vibrant areas of the town again,” he said.

Burchfield said he can’t bring himself to go into the restaurant during the ongoing demolition phase. He said there are too many memories there and he doesn’t want to see it until Hyde is finished with his work.

“Anyone who was anyone came to the Classic Restaurant,” he said, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, and Rick Pitino. The old restaurant raised some $3 million annually for charity, he said.

The Classic Restaurant had its time, said Burchfield, but it wasn’t coming back.

“Gordon has the name, and everyone knows where the building is, now it’s up to him,” he said. “He has no excuses.”

Burchfield said he made the mistake of bringing in a couple of restaurants that didn’t have what it took to succeed on this corner, and he learned his lesson. He said he decided around the beginning of this year to either reopen the restaurant or get someone else to do it.

“I wanted to make sure that this was the person, and that we were going to go to the moon with this,” he said, adding that he expects Hyde to save him a table.

Hyde said he and Burchfield, a famed local boxing promoter, have long been friends, and Burchfield was convincing in luring him to North Providence. He said he hopes to expand his reach farther into Providence and North Providence.

The new restaurant will have a capacity for about 200 people, up from 160 at the existing Arigna, and will feature 36 seats at the bar.

The new restaurant is located 2 1/2 miles from Murphy’s Law and 2 miles from Arigna, making it easier to expand his footprint, said Hyde. The restaurants can share staff and other key aspects if needed, he said.

Hyde said the pizza at Arigna has been its biggest draw, with an oven located behind the bar. The new restaurant will feature an elevated chef’s table with a pizza oven and rotisserie for chicken behind it.

Draft beer tables will feature some 35 beers on tap, including many craft beers. Some 25 high-definition TVs will be incorporated, he said.

Joe Braga, kitchen manager at the Pawtucket Arigna, is consulting on the new North Providence restaurant.

Burchfield said the quality of Hyde’s food and his low prices help set him apart. As someone who travels a lot, and sees many restaurants, he said he’s also impressed with Hyde’s plans for the exterior of the building.

Burchfield said he’s fine with an Irish restaurant replacing a classic Italian one. Murphy’s Law and Arigna draw all kinds of ethnic groups, he said, and their food is made for the 21st century.

Hyde noted with a smile that he’ll only have to change one color on the painted Italian flags on the telephone poles outside. Also a plus, said Burchfield, is that Hyde’s wife is Italian.

Burchfield fondly recalls when he transformed “Classic from a little checkerboard Italian restaurant to Las Vegas,” all in a little more than four days. Seeing Hyde’s plans for his latest venture, he said he has no doubt patrons are in for “a major beautiful surprise here in North Providence.”

Mayor Charles Lombardi said he’s happy to see the Classic Restaurant, a former “destination not only for Rhode Island, but all of New England,” see new life, especially having spent many evenings there. He welcomed Hyde to the town and said the restaurateur will benefit from the enormous popularity of the old restaurant.

Jimmy Burchfield Sr., pictured in his Charles Street office, explains why he decided to sell the former Classic Restaurant to Pawtucket restaurateur Gordon Hyde.