Rhode Island’s newest Fat Belly’s Irish Pub officially opened yesterday with the mayor and officials from the Warwick Mall present for the ribbon cutting.
That was a good turnout, but nothing like the mob that showed up when the word got out that Fat Belly’s was looking to fill 45 new jobs.
Owner Scott Parker said 500 application forms quickly disappeared and they had to have more printed. A total of 1,100 applied for the positions.
Now that they are aboard and Parker has completed renovations to the freestanding pub across Route 5 from the NYLO Hotel, he is hopeful people will also flock to Fat Belly’s. A certified executive chef, Parker once taught at Johnson & Wales University and is of the belief that good food defines a good pub. It has worked for him. He said Fat Belly’s has won recognition for the best pub food and the best hamburger, among other titles.
The second ingredient, he says, is creating the ambience of a pub. He’s achieved that at the Route 5 location with dark paneling, stone-faced columns and small paned windows.
“It’s a great environment and they know they’re going to get a really good meal,” he said.
But Fat Belly’s doesn’t seem like an enticing name, especially to those watching their waistlines.
“It’s a long story,” says Parker of the name.
It starts in 1994 when Parker was in Sweden and had dreams of owning a chain of Irish pubs. He weaves in how he owned and operated Sophia’s on Warwick Avenue before selling it that is named for his daughter.
With plans to open his first dream pub, Parker was on a ski trip with a group of friends when he tossed out the question of a name. They came up with countless names, but nothing clicked. After almost six hours of mulling options, Parker’s father-in-law, who is rotund, complained and told the group to stop talking. The fat man had spoken and somehow from there emerged the name.
Parker’s friends thought he was nuts to even consider Fat Belly’s. He couldn’t get it out of his mind, however. He bounced the name off more friends with an email. All he got was positive feedback.
The name is now a registered trademark and the business has grown since the first restaurant opened six years ago. Parker has partners on some of the restaurants, and others, like the one on Route 5, he owns solely. He is working on opening a sixth on Tiogue Avenue in Coventry.
And what then?
Parker plans to take some time to sort out his next move. He’s had offers to open restaurants out of state and he’s considered a larger franchise.
“I’m going to hire someone and do it right,” he said.