Clam shack a marriage of fresh seafood, renowned chef
There’s a lot of history at Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack.
The once-popular Lyon’s Den nightclub and watering hole was once located there at 2275 Warwick Avenue.
Chef Stephen Delory, who has roots in Warwick, East Greenwich and Newport’s culinary scene, brings more than 30 years of cooking creativity to Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack.
Delory takes diners back to when he was the chef at Joseph’s Restaurant that was located where Walgreens Pharmacy now sits at the busy intersection of Sandy Lane and Warwick Avenue.
Delory has won numerous honors and awards during his successful culinary cruise and was well known from Montauk to Miami as an accomplished chef. He once won the Long Island Chowder Cook-Off and previously owned thriving eateries like Al Dente in Newport, Ma’s Restaurant in Pawtuxet Village, Cherry Stones and the Blue Parrott, just to name a few.
Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack is owned and operated by Tommy Patrick.
While Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack is a new venture for Patrick, the longtime Warwick businessman is no stranger to the food industry.
Patrick has owned and operated the popular Dockside Seafood and Marketplace since 1982. And while most people who’ve been in the business that long would probably consider retirement, Patrick has been re-energized and recently completed construction of his newest concept, Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack.
Why, though, after all these years take such a huge step and make such an investment?
“I often ask myself that question,” Patrick said the other morning while getting ready for a filming of Joe Zito’s popular “TV Maitre d’” that will soon air on local stations. “I’ve been here since 1982; I’ve sold to just about every clam shack on the eastern seaboard for 30 years … So, I decided to put my knowledge, and 30 years of experience of selling seafood from Connecticut to Maine, into this place.”
Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack, sandwiched between Patrick’s Dockside Seafood and Marketplace and a pizza chain store, is no ordinary seafood eatery. Even the building is unique to Warwick’s restaurant scene.
Officially, Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack, which is managed by Doreen Parente, is a mobile, full-service concession trailer that Patrick said “was built right here on site [2275 Warwick Avenue].”
The 8.5-foot wide and 30-foot long shack is also 14 feet high and features a colorful royal blue and white striped awning with nighttime lighting.
It’s the shack’s inner workings, though, that Patrick proudly boasts about and affords Delory an opportunity to create everything from calamari and stuffed quahogs to steamed mussels and even lobsters in the rough with French fries and corn on the cob, and of course, the chef’s famous chowder.
“All the equipment in this shack is brand new,” Patrick said. “It’s all high-tech equipment that is especially designed to do high volume service.”
And everything at Tommy’s, Patrick emphasized, “is done with our customers in mind.”
The shack sits on a 20,000-square-foot parcel that has been fully landscaped, replete with a paved and lined parking lot as well as shrubs, plants, trees and flowers. There are many picnic tables covered by special product umbrellas that have red, blue and white starred mini-pales that contain citronella candles.
Patrick’s place also has long, wooden benches painted gray where people can sit while waiting for their orders. There’s also a huge menu board affixed to the shack, which features three service windows, and a daily menu board that offers Delory’s specials.
As yet further proof of Patrick’s business savvy and wanting to make people happy, he built a wooden fence at the back of his property so his adjacent neighbors would not be bothered.
There’s yet another side of Patrick’s place that perhaps best describes why Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack has been so well received in just three short weeks.
“We give our customers nothing but the highest quality product at a very affordable price,” Patrick said. “I’m proud to have a great source of suppliers … all our fish comes right off the boats. That’s a special relationship I’ve developed in 30-plus years of this business. I will only use the highest quality products; I only want to serve the best seafood possible to our customers.”
Patrick also said, “All our customers are very knowledgeable about our product. They can tell there’s no frozen seafood here.”
And that’s another reason why Patrick, Parente and Delory have received countless “thank yous” since the shack opened.
“It’s absolutely about quality here,” Patrick said. “There was a need for this. We’ve been very, very well received so far and for that, I’m grateful. I personally want to thank each and every customer. They tell us they really enjoy the freshness and quality of our products.”
Patrick paused before adding, “We’re going through 100 gallons of chowder per day.”
Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack, which has created an instant buzz throughout the city and serves a myriad of seafood and soft drinks, is open from noon to 8 p.m. daily.