The holiday season brought no tidings of joy for three Warwick restaurants, as all three announced via their Facebook pages over the weekend that they would be closing their doors soon or effective as of this week.
The Remington House Inn in Apponaug, Christopher’s Landing in Oakland Beach and Shoreline Pizza in Conimicut all announced over the weekend of their impending closures.
“The Remington House Inn will be closing its doors on Friday Nov. 30,” read the message posted on their Facebook page on Saturday, Nov. 24. “Please come and join us here in this final week for food, fun and crafted cocktails. We want to thank you all for 18 wonderful years. It’s been an amazing journey and we wish all of you the best in your future endeavors and again thank you for help making The Remington House Inn the warm welcoming place it is.”
As of press time on Monday, nearly 500 people had reacted to the post. The restaurant had amassed 2,778 likes and had a 4.5 out of 5 rating based on 379 reviews on Facebook and a 4.1 out of 5 rating on Google based on 130 reviews. Comments ranged from saddened disbelief and well wishes towards the ownership to those wondering if gift certificates would still be accepted until the 30th – they will be accepted, in case you were wondering.
Many openly asked what happened that would cause the popular restaurant to close down. A call to owner Mike Berek went un-returned, as did a Facebook message. However, within the comments the Remington Inn page responded to a sad patron, saying simply that, “The owners are moving on to different endeavors.”
In the case of Christopher’s Landing, owner John Xynellis was much more candid in a phone interview on Monday following a post that went out on Facebook, also on Nov. 24, that simply said, “As of tonight Christopher’s will close its doors for the last time. Thank you to all our great friends who supported us.”
“This is a beautiful restaurant. It was a dream to own a place like this. But ultimately, I think this [building] shouldn't be a restaurant,” Xynellis said, saying that the building would be better off being developed into condos or some other non-restaurant use. “Four or five other guys tried to do this here, and I don’t think any of them made it more than two years.”
Opening last May, Xynellis said the restaurant enjoyed a prosperous first summer thanks to the massive amount of boating traffic and summer crowds that frequent the Oakland Beach area. However, that interest dwindled in the fall and fell mostly dead in the winter time. Even when the hot season came around again this year, the interest was just a fraction of the first summer.
“This place has so much going against it, it's crazy,” he said, pointing out the difficulties in the restaurant’s location, in addition to the popularity of neighboring business, Iggy’s. “It got to the point where I owe so much money, I couldn't pay my bills.”
All told Xynellis – who owned the former Norwood Grill on Post Road for about 10 years before deciding to leave that venture to open up Christopher’s – said he would be facing a loss of about $175,000 from the time he opened until making the decision to close. “It's not something that I wanted to do. But it's something you can only fight for so long,” he said.
Xynellis expressed disappointment, not blame, towards the city for what he perceived to be an ultimately futile attempt to get a small sign advertising the restaurant’s whereabouts erected at the intersection of Oakland Beach Avenue and Suburban Parkway. The effort lasted more than a year and included working with both the Scott Avedisian and Joseph Solomon administrations.
At first Xynellis was told the spot – near a RIPTA bus stop – was city property, and he lobbied city officials for the sign to no avail. Then he was told it was RIPTA property. Through RIPTA, Xynellis seemed to be gaining progress towards getting his sign, until he was once again told after three months of communications with the state that the property did indeed belong to the city.
“It was like running into a brick wall. It wasn't going anywhere,” he said.
Xynellis said he and his staff would put up flyers and temporary signs in public spaces around the area to drum up interest, but that those signs would be torn down or mysteriously missing shortly after being put up. He didn’t wager any assumptions as to what happened to them.
Despite kids eat free deals, budget-priced alcohol and weekly specials for Patriots games, the business ran deep into the red, ultimately forcing the closure.
“Ultimately it is my mistake, but the city could have helped me out a lot more than they did,” Xynellis said.
The city Department of Tourism, Culture and Economic Development did not have a response to inquiries about Xynellis’s difficulties acquiring a sign, but they sent a statement regarding the business climate in Warwick.
“Warwick has welcomed many new restaurants over the past several months including Vanda, BJ’s, Apponaug Brew Pub, and soon Sonic on Bald Hill Road, to name a few,” the statement read. “This is all part of the cycle that we have seen before. We have vibrant attractive places for retail and eateries, and the real estate here in Warwick is highly valued.”
Shoreline Pizza did not respond to a Facebook message request for comment on their closure, which they posted on Nov. 23, thanking patrons for the last five years of business.