So let’s say you wanted to have an outstanding day from morning till night with your best bros in downtown Westerly. Where would you start?
Of course there are your standard locations for a quick shot of hot bean water – Dunkin, Bess Eaton, and Honeydew, to name a few – but what if you wanted something a little more unique, and you wanted to enjoy it in the comfort of leather armchairs, surrounded by classic literature and the latest best sellers? Then you’d definitely want to head to the cafe portion of the Savoy Bookstore and Cafe, where they offer Dave’s Coffee in special blends made just for their customers.
The Savoy blend is their house roast while Wakin’ Up Waggin’ is their dark roast, named in honor of their late dog Max’s ever-positive spirit. Both blends were crafted with oversight from Tim, co-owner of the coffee shop along with his wife Erika.
Need something a little stronger? Blind Pig is their espresso and they offer a variety of espresso-based drinks (plus chocolate covered espresso beans, for a kick on the go!), not to mention the fact that they’ll be serving nitro coffee starting soon, which is a very special offering for the area.
For those who don’t know, nitro coffee is cold coffee infused with nitrogen and it pours like a Guinness, rich and creamy. Or, for a truly Rhode Island way to start your day, try out their Dave’s Coffee Milk Latte! Once you’ve selected a drink, your next step is choosing from their variety of freshly baked pastries made right behind the counter, or scones and biscotti from Zest Bakery, right over the border in the Velvet Mill in Stonington, CT.
Next, settle down with your breakfast and your bros in one of their soft leather armchairs and pick up a copy of that book you’ve been meaning to read. You might even find yourself there on a day when they’re offering one of their many author events, which are always free and open to the public.
Now that your needs for caffeine, food, and intellectual pursuits have been temporarily satiated, maybe you’ll want to put your best face forward as you step back in time at Modern Barber for a shave and a haircut, leaving you and your crew ready to take on the rest of the day looking fresh to death.
Walk-ins are welcome, and if you find yourself having to wait for one of their four open chairs, chances are you won’t mind. Owner Cat Thibodeau will give you a free Gansett while you chill in their comfortable lounge, plus they offer free wifi and a variety of video games to play as well.
Modern Barber, right over the bridge in Pawcatuck, CT, next to Chelsea Groton, opened in May 2014 and Cat believes that what she offers is a “unique slice of the past.” Barbershops, once ubiquitous and even synonymous with surgeons and dentistry due to their surplus of razor-sharp instruments, are now one of the rarer self-care entities.
“A lot of barbers started to retire and didn’t pass down their expertise, and if you don’t pass it on, it doesn’t come back,” Cat shared, adding that her grandfather was a barber for over 40 years and taught her the ropes (or the razors, as the case may be). “This is my place,” said customer Brian while wrapping up his visit. “I moved here in October from California, and we have nothing like this there, nothing this old school.”
Show off your fresh buzz and keep your beer buzz going by heading over to the Malted Barley next, which offers 38 craft beers on tap, including local favorite Captain’s Daughter Double IPA by Grey Sail. Owner Colin Bennette says besides the variety of beer, he believes what sets them apart is their commitment to clean their draft lines every two weeks, ensuring that they always get the beer to the customer the way that the brewer intended.
If you’re hungry by now, they’ve got you covered – their gourmet soft pretzels, like the stuffed jalapeno cheddar, served with apricot butter, are infamously delicious. They also offer a selection of classic sandwiches, from BLTs to meatballs, to roast beef.
“Everything is freshly baked daily,” Colin said, adding “it’s a simple thing, but it makes everything so tasty, and you can do so many different things with fresh bead.”
Upstairs is a 102″ projector screen for enjoying The Big Game (whatever game that might be), and downstairs you can challenge your buds to a friendly game of pool or foosball on one of their two tables.
If you want to make things interesting, maybe have the stakes for your pool game be that the loser has to buy a round of cigars across the street at Vintage Cigar Lounge. Fast approaching their one-year anniversary of opening, Vintage offers over 400 faces (that’s 400 boxes, for those of you not in the know) of cigars, possesses a full liquor license and boasts one of the largest selection of bourbons, whiskeys, and ryes in the state. They also offer functions and monthly events, sponsored by different cigar vendors.
The lounge is open to both men and women and not just for private members, which is a common misconception. However, membership will definitely get you even more perks, including access to one of their four private rooms in the back, and group trips to exotic locations.
One group recently came back from Nicaragua, where they stayed at a cigar factory and “lived the life of a cigar, from the ground all the way through packaging,” co-owner Greg shared.
All four owners of Vintage grew up and graduated from high school together, and while none had a background in cigars prior to opening up Vintage, they learned quickly in order to keep up with the fast pace of the growing market of cigar lounges.
In recent years, Greg reports that the number of cigar lounges has more than doubled, especially in this area. After considering all of the towns in South County, they chose to open their establishment in Westerly because they felt the downtown area was quickly becoming a bar and restaurant destination.
“It’s a walking district,” Greg added, “and there are not a lot of other walking districts in Rhode Island, let alone south county.” He feels that both Main Streets in Newport and East Greenwich have become too spread out to comfortably enjoy by foot, so they wanted to take advantage of the uncommon layout of the town while also offering the town a new way to unwind, seven days a week.
Perhaps the last stop on your Best Guys Day Ever Tour could be The Brazen Hen. For the past four years, the self-proclaimed Public House has been serving up delicious meals with some Irish flare and a little nightlife. General Manager Alan Sheehan recommends the fish and chips, steak, or the owner’s recipe for shepherd’s pie from Ireland.
“Our chef has been around the block a few times,” he laughed. “So our food is really amazing.” Fill up on meat and potatoes and then kick back on the outdoor patio complete with fire pits, corn hole, life sized and Jenga. Inside they host karaoke and trivia nights and live music performances. “The people here are great,” Alan shared. “There’s such a good sense of family and community.”
So bro forth and bro out, dudes, while enjoying some of the finer things that downtown Westerly has to offer. It’s your day – make it a good one, from start to finish!