Thursday, April 11, 2013


Benjamin and Heidi Sukle will open Birch in the teeny Tini space (downtown at 200 Washington St) sometime this summer. A Johnson & Wales alum, Ben Sukle worked at La Laiterie ( before becoming chef at Dorrance ( where he's worked since its 2011 opening. The plan is to keep the space as is - i.e., dining will be at the u-shaped bar.

This is good news. The Sukles have likely figured out that big spaces like Dorrance are tricky (impossible?) in downtown Providence. Think about it as Downtown A and Downtown B. Downtown A is the old business district where apartment living is minimal. So if you run a restaurant there you may be able to get an early and/or late-night bar business going but finding enough diners from 7:00 to 10:00 is a problem. Getting people to cross the bridges from the East Side or over 95 from the West hasn't been easy. Downtown B, home to the convention center, the Omni hotel and apartments and the apartments surrounding Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is another world (a world with a lot of chain restaurants) and its effect on the real downtown is lousy. So far anyway.

Thinking small, as in the Tini space, may be the safest way to go.

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