T.O.’s Bar and Grill, Miss Lorraine Diner win licenses

T.O.’s Bar and Grill, Miss Lorraine Diner win licenses

The future T.O.’s Bar and Grill on Newport Avenue, above, and the new Miss Lorraine Diner at 560 Mineral Spring Ave., below. (Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET – Construction of two eateries on opposite sides of the city has residents buzzing, say city officials, and now the restaurants have the licenses they need to serve the public.

The Miss Lorraine Diner, 560 Mineral Spring Ave., and T.O.’s Bar and Grill, 562 Newport Ave. in the former Queenie’s Deck building, both received licenses to sell food and alcohol at last week’s meeting of the City Council sitting as the Board of License Commissioners.

Both owners, each receiving Class BV victualer and victualling house licenses, have poured significant dollars into their projects, committing to Pawtucket for the long haul. Both restaurants are expected to open in December.

Tim O’Riley, of Pawtucket, said he’s been in the restaurant industry for 15 years in Providence and wants to open a well-run place with fresh food and a safe environment in his hometown.

“Providence was great to me, but I’m excited to be in Pawtucket,” he said.

He said as a courtesy he approached a number of the restaurant owners in the area of 562 Newport Ave. to inform them that he plans to open soon as a neighborhood bar and grill, but noted that he expects T.O.’s to offer something different from other establishments.

Councilor Terry Mercer told O’Riley and business partner Jay Amin, of Cumberland, that a number of people have complimented them on the work they’re doing on the building. There’s clearly been a lot of money and effort put in, said Mercer, “and I think the neighborhood is catching on and appreciative.”

O’Riley said they’ve put hundreds of thousands of dollars into the project. When you buy a building, everything has to be done new to bring it back to its past luster, he said. No expense is being spared in bringing it up to code, he said.

O’Riley said his restaurant will incorporate aspects of two of his favorite out-of-state establishments, including Primanti Brothers in Pennsylvania with its huge sandwiches, but at “Pawtucket pricing,” and Katz’s Deli of New York. He promises consistency and quality levels of food. The deck will be opened seasonally.

O’Riley hopes to open by mid-December, but if it’s by the NFL playoffs and the Patriots are in, “that will be great.”

Councilors commended O’Riley, with Mark Wildenhain saying it’s been good to see improvement at the property. Councilor Albert Vitali Jr. said it’s great to see another dining establishment come into a city that could use more such destinations. He joked that when the owners of the previous Queenie’s Deck took the deck off the building, “I knew the writing was on the wall.”

For the Miss Lorraine license, restaurateur Michael Arena spoke of how he’s been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years and sees the soon-to-be-opened dining car as a “great opportunity for the city,” not only for those who live and work in Jon Savage’s Lorraine Mills but those in the area who want to stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The hours aren’t set in stone yet, but Arena said he expects the diner to open at 6 a.m. and close probably around 9 p.m., maybe 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. This will be diner food with a little twist, he said, with a dining room just behind the dining car helping to upscale the eatery for dinner time.

Arena said he expects about 20 employees to work at the Miss Lorraine, telling council members that the restaurant has a capacity of 112 people. Arena as also been the owner of Amanda’s Kitchen in Pawtucket for many years.

Vitali said it was pretty cool to finally see the plastic come off the diner this month after years of driving past it and wondering what would end up emerging. Residents have long waited for the day when the diner would open, he said, and now the time has come.

Councilor Michael Araujo said the Miss Lorraine has generated a lot of buzz in town. “A lot of people are talking about it,” he said.

Arena said Savage did a wonderful job restoring the old dining car.

“It’s something that we really all can be very proud of,” said Savage, noting that this 1941 Worcester Streamliner Diner was one of the deluxe diners of its day, and is one of only seven such diners left in the world.

Savage said he spent a long time trying to find just the right person to operate the restaurant.