An upbeat crowd of 70-plus professional people enjoyed some magic moments last Wednesday evening, courtesy of the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce (CRIC) and hosts Annette and Ken Stockley, owners of Pool & Patio Center, Inc. at 475 Tiogue Avenue in Coventry.
Perhaps Doug Bradley, a mixologist at Boucher’s Wood River Inn in Wyoming, best described the fun-filled Business After Hours (BAH) event.
“These people really went all out,” Bradley began while sampling a scallops-wrapped-in-bacon appetizer. “They’ve got a nationally acclaimed magician, great food … and a setting that gives us hope that spring is right around the corner.”
The Stockleys have sponsored a myriad of events and youth sports teams during their longstanding 28-year tenure as owners of the Pool & Patio Center, Inc. When it came to refreshments for the night’s events, they enlisted the services of their next-door neighbors, the Pilderian family, who are owners of the Cozy Grille Family Restaurant, which for years was known as Appetites.
Co-owner Jay Pilderian and his staff prepared a menu that featured scallops wrapped in bacon, baked stuffed mushrooms, garden salad, veggie platter with dip, pigs in a blanket, chicken and tuna salad finger sandwiches, pulled pork sliders, pasta with marinara sauce and pasta with pink vodka sauce, biscotti, chocolate chip bars, grape nut pudding and apple crisp, which drew rave reviews from attendees.
And the night’s special entertainment, Mat Franco, lived up to his billing throughout a personality-filled yet short appearance held between Pool & Patio’s hot tub and swimming pool accessories sections.
“You can see why Mat the Magician – Mat Franco – was awarded America’s 2013 Male Performer of the Year,” said Rick Medeiros, the Pawtucket Red Sox director of security. “No wonder he’s in such high demand all around the country.”
Franco performed a number of magic tricks that kept people in their seats – and standing inside a crowded section of Pool & Patio Center – with his quick wit and humor.
“It seems as though the Central Chamber is raising the bar for its Business After Hours,” said Medeiros, who in his capacity visits various Chambers of Commerce throughout the state. “They seemed to have stacked the deck for his one.”
Medeiros said he enjoyed the “amazing playing card tricks” that Franco performed while being assisted by two of the night’s attendees.
“This was a productive evening for business filled with fun and excitement,” said Lauren Slocum, the CRIC’s president/CEO. “People from all over the state came together to share ideas and network; what a huge advantage Rhode Island has being small and what great benefits.”
Slocum, along with Steven H. Kitchin, who doubles as CRIC board chairman and vice president of corporate education and training at New England Tech, conducted their traditional BAH raffle that included such prizes as a one-person swimming pool floating chair valued at $150 donated by the Stockleys.
“On behalf of the Chamber and our Board of Directors, I want to give special thanks to Pool & Patio owners Annette and Ken Stockley,” Slocum said. “They certainly rolled out the welcome mat tonight.”
The event was an example of how the Stockleys have always done business since they opened the Pool & Patio Center, Inc. in 1984.
“They’ve sponsored girls’ softball and soccer teams ever since I can remember,” said Deborah Gibbs, a one-time standout athlete at West Warwick High who was part of Avon representative Cheryl Keller’s group. “They’re generous people for sure.”
Slocum thanked CRIC staffers Denise Drouin, Sarah Stoves, Yvette Mellin and Chris Allen for the roles they played in helping make the night a success.
The next Business After Hours will be a statewide event featuring all Chambers of Commerce in Rhode Island. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, March 25 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet. For more information, call the CRIC at 732-1100.