2016-10-06 / Opinion


Newport Institutions

When we think of Newport institutions, places like the mansions, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Touro Synagogue are first to come to mind. They are all historic.

However, when you speak to longtime residents, commercial establishments also can fall into this category. Newport has lost commercial institutions over the years due to growth and development, including Christie’s Landing and Salas’s restaurant on lower Thames, which were transcendent in their appeal to both locals and tourists.

In reality, only one or two such institutions remain. One is Gary’s Handy Lunch on lower Thames. Gary’s is the consummate local yokel place year-round, but swamped in the summertime with the day trippers. When the police, fire and public works people are there daily, along with numerous small business people and retirees like me, this includes some real characters and it gives Gary’s great character. You have the morning characters and the lunchtime characters, each with their own brand of views on life and the current state of affairs.

Like the song says in “Cheers,” everybody does know your name. This rare feel in a world filled with national chain establishments is warming. It is enhanced by three generations of family growing up with a great work ethic instilled by grandparents and parents down to the grandkids. Family also means those working there who are not blood related, but still are family. All the kids are hard workers and driving great success in the American way.

Gary’s is a microcosm of that local friendly small town meeting place near the town common that appears to be slipping away in America, gobbled by the high-powered chains. So enjoy it for now. They actually do know my name.

Bill Falcone

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