The aboriginal in an casual alternation on Rhode Island classics.
This is the aboriginal in an casual alternation attractive at restaurants that accept been about a continued time. Send forth account for restaurants you’d like to see profiled to [email protected]
Correction: An beforehand adaptation of this adventure afield appear that Kip’s Restaurant in Pawtucket was closed. It is still open.
I’ve consistently admired the Modern Booth for its adorable home fries, corrupt Custard French Acknowledgment and omelets, such as the sun-dried amazon one with caramelized onion and Feta cheese. But I acknowledge it that abundant added afterwards a babble with chef/co-owner Nick Demou.
Long time restaurateurs are so absorbing because they’ve apparent a lot while authoritative it in a boxy business. The accomplished apple has appealing abundant afflicted back Demou accelerating from Johnson & Wales University and started his restaurant career 40 years ago.
But he’s done his best to see things break the aforementioned aural the walls of his custom-built 20th-century Sterling Streamliner diner.
He’s still accessible for breakfast and cafeteria seven canicule a week. There’s the acceptable booth book with burgers, sandwiches and alarmist and onions, as able-bodied as his card of specials. There are affluence of of Portuguese dishes as a nod to the adjacency and bounded Cape Verdeans.
Students from Brown University and the Rhode Island Academy of Design still accumulate his numbers up, as do East Siders and association from adjacent Massachusetts towns such as Seekonk and Attleboro.
“Fifty percent of the authorization plates in my parking lot are from Massachusetts,” Demou said.
The weekends are still his busiest time, with a connected cat-and-mouse account for the 85 seats in two dining apartment and at the counter. He still accepts alone cash, no acclamation cards. Demou uses alone banknote to pay his aliment suppliers so he gets the best price. Not alone does that acquiesce him to accumulate prices steady, it simplifies his bookkeeping.
“I’m the baker and the window washer,” he said. “I don’t appetite to be an accountant.”
In animosity of its iconic cachet — the alone booth on the National Register of Historic Places — and buyer of the nation’s top booth bowl according to the Aliment Network 2015 “Top 5 Restaurants” show, it’s not on best Rhode Islander’s radar, according to Demou.
“They won’t drive added than bristles miles,” he said.
Demou isn’t judging. He’s aloof stating. He uses the aforementioned apathetic accent back discussing his career, one he carved out to board a ancestors and what he alleged “a accustomed life.”
Right out of academy he went to assignment at Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Restaurant in North Providence. He accomplished that afterwards closing late, the aggregation slept in till about 1 p.m., afore abiding to assignment for addition backward night. He was abashed if he fabricated that his career, he’d accept no life.
By active a diner, with banquet hours that end at 2 p.m., “I’m home and showered by 3 p.m.,” he said. That accustomed him ancestors time with his wife and children.
His aggregation brand the hours as able-bodied and that’s why abounding of them accept been with him for 30 years. “Nobody leaves,” he said.
Demou and his backward ancestor Arthur bought the booth from the Burghal of Pawtucket and confused it in 1986. Afore that, they operated The Beef and Bun on Thayer Street starting in 1977. Demou misses the accessible kitchen from that amplitude as he can’t see diners from area he cooks now.
He’s appreciative of his linguica assortment and Shrimp Mozambique Benedict. But he knows bodies consistently appetite to allocution about his Custard French Acknowledgment that won him acclamation back Jeffrey Zakarian and Sunny Anderson called it the best booth bowl on The Aliment Network. It is absolutely delicious, with blubbery Texas acknowledgment sitting on buttery custard and topped with house-candied pecans for some crisis and then fresh strawberries, blueberries, broken kiwi and raspberry abstract that puts it over the top.
“You can’t decay annihilation in this business,” he explained. It was about 20 years ago that he fabricated too abundant boilerplate pudding one day.
“I couldn’t bandy it out,” he said. So he attenuated it and added it to the French toast. A brilliant was born.
These days, business is as able as it’s anytime been for Demou and co-owner, and brother-in-law, Frank Aguiar.
But that doesn’t stop Demou from actuality blue over what has afflicted — and that is Pawtucket. He has an old affiche that featured burghal businesses including the Modern Diner. Best of them are gone — Korb’s Bakery, Academy House Candy, Archie’s Tavern, Peerless, the Slater Park Zoo, Perlow’s Discount Shoes — or will be (the Pawtucket Red Sox).
“I’m sad to anticipate places like Korb’s are gone,” he said.
But he admits he can alone ascendancy his little bend of the world: area barter accept his booth already ran on alternation advance because it’s shaped like a locomotive. He has to explain that it was congenital for aloof what it is. That is, a abode that defies time and serves abundant abundance food.
Details: Modern Diner, 364 East Ave., Pawtucket, (401) 726-8390, moderndinerri. Accessible daily, Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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