Len’s is a haven during pandemic

Len’s is a haven during pandemic

Owner Len Rounds stands in front of his Seafood Haven, which is located at the right after his Hot Dog and Ice Cream Havens. All three operations are open seven days a week, weather pending, April through September. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)

PAWTUCKET – Located in Slater Park near Daggett Farm and owned by Len Rounds, Len’s Seafood Ice Cream & Hot Dog Haven has been a popular spot during the pandemic.

Rounds, now 54, has been doing hot dogs for decades, and has become well-known throughout Pawtucket. Originally from Central Falls, he now lives in Rumford.

In the building he is in now, in Slater Park, owners have come and gone while Rounds has stayed on and eventually became the owner of all three businesses, the hot dog window on the left, the ice cream window in the middle, and the seafood one on the right.

The Haven is usually open for the season starting in April and runs throughout the summer, seven days a week.

This year with COVID-19, it’s been a little different, said Rounds, but in a good way. Because of the coronavirus, he was not able to open until May 16.

“And we’ve been busy every day since then,” he said. “It was a big gamble because I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was like a whole new experience. I didn’t know if I opened up if people were going to come out because it was so scary. Knock on wood. It’s been very busy, busier than my normal season.”

He added, “I’m just thankful that this operation is outside. I don’t need reservations. All I had to do was put my tables apart. I put up barriers on the windows and painted my lines. I didn’t have to do a lot to open. I was lucky.”

Rounds has never had indoor dining so he was never included in the state’s restaurant phasing. His regular customers, such as David Brunetti, a lifelong Darlington resident, have returned.

“This is a wonderful venue and a great escape,” Brunetti said. “It just has a different type of atmosphere. That place is a haven and fantastic place to go.”

Once stay-at-home orders were lifted and the weather got warmer, Rounds said people were finding his seafood place online and that’s how he got a lot of new customers, especially as he was open when outdoor dining wasn’t even a thing yet.

He said his phone has been ringing more than it has in 10 years, and he’s getting customers he may never have seen without the pandemic.

At 21 years old, Rounds worked and bought a diner on Exchange Street and then decided to stay in the food business but take a new path. He got a hot dog cart and was on the corner of Goff Avenue and Exchange Street for about 18 years.

“I started off with a hot dog cart for two years and then I bought the truck,” Rounds said. “Back then, food trucks were few and far between. Not too many people had them.”

From there he was offered a place at Slater Park. There were three spaces as part of the building and he had his choice, so he chose the one all the way to the left. He said he had to renovate as the place was where the old zoo and original concession area was. He turned it into Len’s Hot Dog Haven and spent 10 years managing that starting in 2001. There were two other businesses, an ice cream place and Horton’s Seafood. The ice cream owner eventually took over the seafood business and then eventually decided to offer both spaces to Rounds. Rounds took over. Next year it will be his 20th at the park.

He has about 15 employees that work all three places, two shifts a day and he said he basically lives there during the summer. They always have Fourth of July off. The place operates seven days a week, sometimes closing during heavy rain.

The plan as always is to close Sept. 30 after a weekend schedule throughout September. Rounds said he enjoys Pawtucket and loves what he does.


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“I’ve been here 20 years. I like it here,” he said. “I plan to stay here a long time. I’ve got a lot invested.”

Owner Len Rounds stands in front of his Ice Cream Haven, located in the middle of his Seafood and Hot Dog Havens.