Pizza meets politics
Olly's Pizzeria on South Main Street in Woonsocket celebrated their 36th birthday this month.
"So what?" you ask. As my editor was quick to point out after hearing I'd attended the event, an odd birthday of a small, local pizza joint isn't exactly front page news.
And yet, a crowd of around 50 locals crammed into the shop for the afternoon weekday celebration including Supt. Giovanna Donoyan, Police Chief Thomas Carey, City Councilor Robert Moreau, Zoning Board member Norman Frechette, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce President John Gregory and Mayor-elect Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. The crew from NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley was there, including Executive Director Joseph Garlick, along with a handful of uniformed police officers, some City Hall workers and a few banking professionals. Not to mention the families of co-owners Peter Vosdagalis and Emanuel Koukos, and a few groups of diehard regular customers.
You may be wondering what would prompt such a turnout at a relatively low profile party. I know I was.
"They're all customers," Vosdagalis said.
The statement had a ring of truth. As Vosdagalis pointed out to this writer's great embarrassment, the Olly's delivery man had been to my home just the evening before.
But there had to be more to the story.
"When they heard the mayor was going to be here, they all wanted to come," Vosdagalis added.
Looking around, it was clear that while, yes, Olly's food is some of the best in town, many in the room weren't there just for a slice of pie. They were there because right now, everyone wants to be part of Baldelli-Hunt's crowd. More than 500 people showed up at the Stadium Theatre for the mayor's election after party, an event normally reserved for family members and perhaps up to a few dozen committed supporters.
The energy and excitement surrounding the new mayor, who unseated incumbent Leo Fontaine just a few weeks ago by a 2-1 margin, is palpable. Whether or not the new administration delivers all that residents hope, it is indeed a new day in Woonsocket.
"We've been waiting for this day for a long. long time," said Vosdagalis, as Baldelli-Hunt sliced the cake.