September 1, 2014
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HAVEN BROTHERS: LEGACY OF THE AMERICAN DINER
Joyce and Don Fowler

* * * *

(Down to earth

documentary)

Rhode Island is fortunate to have a talented group of filmmakers who are documenting our local treasures, past and present.

The past is represented by nostalgic films about the Warwick Musical Theatre and Rocky Point, the present by Waterfire, and the latest, Jeff Toste’s gem about Haven Brothers Diner.

The Columbus Theatre was sold out last week for the premiere of the documentary, which covered the history of the unique food truck, through Mayor Paolino’s admitted error of moving the truck out of downtown Providence, to the many characters that work and frequent the diner today.

There’s just enough history to let you appreciate the role that the food truck played in growth and change of Providence. The main appeal is the long list of characters who frequent the establishment, from its 5 p.m. arrival alongside City Hall to its departure at 3 a.m. (4 a.m. on weekends).

 Stay for the credits and read the endless list of people interviewed for the movie, ranging from politicians to college kids, tourists, motorcyclists, the homeless, the local characters, and the many John and Jane Does.

Toste effectively uses time-lapse photography to capture owner Sal Giusti as he prepares the diner for the night and cooks pounds of bacon, dozens of eggs, buckets of fries and, of course, his signature hamburgers and hot dogs.

From the early days, when Providence was a ghost town, to the present, when theatre and convention-goers fill the small truck and form long lines at the take-out window, Toste has captured the lure and attraction of one of Rhode Island’s true icons.

Former Mayor Joe Paolino talks about his decision to move Haven Brothers from Downcity and the backlash it caused. He humbly and humorously admits his mistake (“I folded like an accordion.”).

While the diner is the star of the movie, the multitude of characters who sing its praises while chomping down on a dog with the works are the supporting stars. This is a movie not to be missed. Hopefully, Toste will find many outlets to show the film.


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