“I’m smitten with my own life right now,” says Michelle Politano, owner and executive chef of PiANTA. The vegan takeout restaurant caused such a sensation over the year it was open that PiANTA transitioned to a sit-down restaurant on Federal Hill in May. “I looked at my team of people and said, ‘I have the bones of a brick and mortar here,’” she explains. “When the location became available, I saw an opportunity and jumped on it.”
Now that they no longer have to worry about how food will travel, Politano added new menu items that showcase her team’s creativity. While takeout-friendly staples like sandwiches remain, she’s beefed up (figuratively, of course!) their pastas and main courses. “We have a beautiful eggplant caprese that is like art on a plate. Now I can really flex what we have here.” That flex extends to cocktails, after being granted a full liquor license in June. PiantaVeganRestaurant.com
The Warwick-based We Be Jammin’ has opened a second location in Pawtucket. Debbie Wood, who founded the company with her son, Jason, said that there were so many customers in the area requesting their product that they jumped at the chance to move to Hope Artiste Village, “a great little hub for small businesses.”
In eight fast years, We Be Jammin’ went from a part-time company with nine items to a full-time, multi-space endeavor featuring over 100 products. “I always imagined explosive growth. It was the right product at the right time,” says Wood, who helped her son, who has autism, build the brand. “I didn’t want it to be a hobby. It was going to be a business.” With the second location open, they are looking at further expansions throughout the state. Jason fans take note: he now splits his time between the Pawtucket and Warwick locations. WeBeJammin.net
“XO Cafe was iconic, it was the place to be,” says Scott Champagne, who, along with Salted Slate owner Ben Lloyd, is opening its new incarnation, XO Bar. The new cocktail lounge is a bit of a homecoming for Champagne and Lloyd, who met at the original cafe and remained friends since. A night of reminiscing led them to inquiring about the space, which led to signing a lease.
XO Bar, which does not have a kitchen, will feature bar snacks with some food items from the Salted Slate (think Bento boxes). But the focus is on the lounge experience, with seven to 10 signature cocktails, a carefully cultivated wine list, and an extensive range of beers, from Bud to local brews. Guest bartenders appear nightly. “It’s a super chill space with comfy seats and an IG-worthy bathroom,” says Champagne. “Everyone’s going to look like a model under our lighting.” @thexobar
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