During the mid-20th century, the Holland House restaurant, located at 1473 Warwick Avenue, was the scene of memories for hundreds of Rhode Islanders. During the 1930s, the establishment had been …
During the mid-20th century, the Holland House restaurant, located at 1473 Warwick Avenue, was the scene of memories for hundreds of Rhode Islanders. During the 1930s, the establishment had been owned by Edmund Dreyfus and was known as Dreyfus Frog Farm Restaurant. Dreyfus advertised that his place offered “no music, no dancing”, just a “quiet atmosphere.” Lunch was priced at 75 cents and dinner at $1 and up. The business was later sold to Tom Trulis, who maintained the name, and then reopened by Leo Holland in 1953 as Holland House.
During the 1950s, Holland House was advertised as being an outstanding dining establishment which was devoted to carrying on the traditions of Dreyfus. Holland had a long history in the profession of preparing and serving food and was determined to maintain the restaurant’s reputation for fine dining. Special parties of any size were encouraged to make reservations and were promised “the full cooperation of the management to make your party a success.”
In 1956, the Warwick branch of the Sunshine Society celebrated its 25th anniversary with a luncheon at Holland House. Joann Merigold enjoyed her bridal shower there that year and it was the site of Catherine Finley and Sylvester Rose’s wedding reception.
The Mr. & Mrs. Club held their banquet there in 1958 while a series of retirement dinners and private parties took center stage as the 50s came to a close.
In 1962, the establishment hosted a luncheon for the Warwick Rotary Club and, in 1964, another for the Chafee for Governor Committee. The Rotary Club met at the Holland House weekly for years as well as held their May Breakfast at the restaurant.
A luncheon reunion of East Greenwich Academy teachers who had taught at the school from 1912 to 1914 took place at the restaurant in 1965, as did the annual meeting of the Pembroke College Club of Kent County.
The annual Christmas party of the Kent County Medical Assistants was held at Holland House in 1966, as well as the 50th anniversary party for Mr. and Mrs. Clement Potts. In 1968, the annual dinner of the Weed & Water Club was enjoyed at the establishment.
Many people worked at the restaurant over the years. During the 50s and 60s, Walter Mello was employed as a chef, Delia Hunt as a waitress, Armand Improta as a waiter, and Sarah Williams as a hostess.
Holland House closed its doors during the 1970s and a Washington Trust now stands at the site. However, thanks to a recipe book published by the Providence Gas Company many decades ago, at least one example of Holland House “fine dining” may be recreated in 21st-century kitchens. The restaurant’s recipe for its famous “Chicken Sauté” follows:
Bone and wash three pounds of chicken. Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Heat butter or oil in a heavy skillet and, when hot, add the chicken, skin-side down. Sauté until golden brown and then turn over and lightly brown the other side. Add one cup of sliced mushrooms, a chopped quarter clove of garlic and one-half cup of white wine. Cover and simmer slowly, occasionally turning the chicken.
Kelly Sullivan is a Rhode Island columnist, lecturer and author.
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