Mayor Joseph Solomon’s ribbon cutting scissors got a good workout Tuesday, as two businesses on West Shore Road were recognized in official grand opening ceremonies by the city – one a veteran-run locksmithing shop and the other a nautical-themed, craft beer packing coffee shop.
“It's a great positive feeling, not just for me but for what people think of the community overall,” Solomon said after the second ribbon had been snipped at West Shore Coffee Bar. “Warwick is open for business and we will continue to expand our businesses, especially small businesses within the community.”
Solomon didn’t have to travel far to get to West Shore Coffee Bar following the first ribbon cutting at Jon’s Locks – the two stores are next door neighbors in the same small plaza.
Already once featured in the Beacon, Jonathan Issa opened up Jon’s Locks Inc. from his home and slowly expanded it through his own determination and hard work. The storefront is his first store and he has already recruited his first employee – his son, Zachary, a recent graduate from Lincoln High School.
Dan Saffer, owner of West Shore Coffee Bar, got into the coffee business as a side venture with his main breadwinning profession being real estate development. As a broker, he purchased the property on which the coffee shop stands and felt the area needed a local, unique place to get coffee.
He has filled the interior with a breezy nautical theme – Solomon pointed to a surf board hanging on the wall, inquiring if he could get one for his office – and features art from local artists, which is available for purchase with all proceeds going to the artists and rotates monthly. Saffer dons flip flops, water shorts and has a water shirt on underneath his polo, ready to jump in to the ocean and surf at a moment’s notice.
As a man who has traveled the world to visit the globe’s best surf spots and claims to have once physically pushed a shark out of the way that was getting too close for comfort, Saffer is not your traditional businessman, but he undoubtedly knows how to live. Saffer also mentioned how a majority of the products he sells are sourced from Rhode Island businesses.
“I think the pendulum is swinging back from the big box stores to what makes up the majority of the businesses in this state, and that's the small businessman,” observed Solomon following the ceremonies.
Karen Jedson, Director of the city’s Tourism Culture and Development office, agreed that local businesses like Saffer’s and Issa’s are part of what contribute to a community’s marketability for those visiting and potentially looking for a place to live.
“Everyone has gone places where they look for a local spot to try something local, and this would be one of them for sure,” she said. “Local is a draw.”