Narragansett Caf back in business after 2005 fire
After seven long months of Jamestown's musical drought - without a place to let one's hair down, grab a brew, and try out some dance steps - the Narragansett Caf is back in action, and the regulars are back in their bar stools like nothing ever happened.
Last November, a few days before Thanksgiving, the Narragansett Caf had a fire that began when an exhaust fan in the ladies' room sparked, sending flames through the roof and causing heavy damage to the building that's been an island watering hole since the 1940s.
Dan Alexander, the owner since 1987, has spent many months and about $200,000 bringing the establishment back and making improvements that are sure to please regulars and new patrons alike.
"Everything's new," Alexander said Wednesday, but he noted that about half of the work that went into the refurbishment "will never be seen." Structurally, the floor has been supported with heavier joists. New expanding foam insulation will keep the place quieter as well as warmer, and a new sprinkler system - required by law - is in place on every level of the building. There is also central air conditioning, he noted.
What can be seen is the new hickory floor that includes an inset compass rose at the entrance.
"It's an island bar," Alexander said, adding, "People should know which way they're going."
Around the bar, which has not moved, there's a pressed concrete strip that gives the illusion of sitting on stones.
New wall colors in coral, turquoise and a soft green are brightened up by the larger windows that allow more light into the room.
The pool table has been resurfaced in bright red felt.
The venerable shuffleboard table on the west wall was not damaged in the fire and is still in its same spot, just cleaned up a bit, Alexander said.
On the east side of the building, the stage has been moved from the corner near the street to a spot further back. This allows more room for dancing, or dining, Alexander said. He noted that his kitchen, which is not quite finished, will soon be open for lunch. Later in the summer, a dinner menu is planned, Alexander said. Equipment and duct work still needs to be installed and inspected, he noted.
The front entrance is now wider and handicapped accessible, and there is a unisex handicapped bathroom at the rear. The walls and floors in the bathrooms have been redone and they are clean and shiny.
Last Tuesday, June 27, at precisely 5 p.m., Alexander said, he opened the cafe's doors and although he did not advertise or put up a sign that he was open, it wasn't long before word of mouth spread through town and "everyone was back," he said.
Last weekend, the caf was packed to capacity with folks dancing to the Smokin' Toads and New York Minute. Alexander said he noticed that even with a capacity crowd "the place seemed bigger" with the new improvements.
This weekend, Alexander invites people to come and see "Eric Narwhal and the Manatees," who play a range of styles from "beach music to Tom Jones," and are sure to get the Jamestown crowd dancing.
More information and band listings are available on the Web site at www.narragansettcafe.com.