Hope Street was made for Sundays. Just blocks from the downtown hustle, it’s a place where you can spend an entire morning sipping coffee, watching the ebbs and flows of this elegantly casual neighborhood.
While the street runs the length of Providence’s historic East Side, the northern end between Rochambeau Avenue and Blackstone Boulevard is lined with a colorful collection of shops and restaurants.
Visitors looking for a unique remembrance of their trip to Providence must make a stop at Studio Hop, an airy and bright shop that features the work of more than 40 Rhode Island artists, as well as a carefully selected smattering of vintage and antique items.
“One of the missions here is to have the work be authentic,” said Nina Tegu, who manages the store she co-owns with husband, Peter. “Its pieces you’re not going to find anywhere else in Providence.”
Tegu chooses the jewelry, paintings, ceramics, photography and other handcrafted items, that she says “speak to her.” She admits to being drawn to pieces that are “a little elegant – lovely, but with a little edginess.”
Hope Street is also home to one of Providence’s most critically lauded restaurants Chez Pascal. Owners Matt and Kristin Gennuso relocated to Providence after working in some of Boston’s top restaurants. They purchased Chez Pascal and opened in 2003, keeping the name and its French traditions.
“We change the menu frequently because we rely on local produce and meats,” said Executive Chef Matt Gennuso. “It’s French cuisine strongly influenced by local ingredients.”
A Food & Wine favorite, Chez Pascal is popular with both visitors and neighborhood regulars.
Gennuso is particularly fond of Lippitt Memorial Park, across the street from the restaurant, where Chez Pascal has a hot dog cart during the warm weather. Lunchtime diners happily line up for homemade dogs, sausages and more.
Visitors needing to work off such a delicious lunch can take a class at Festival Ballet Providence, whose studio has been a Hope Street fixture for eight years. In addition to housing one of the premiere ballet companies in New England, the Festival Ballet Center for Dance Education offers classes for dancers of all ages and skill levels.
For those who prefer to leave such things to professionals, the Ballet offers a complete season of performances, although most take place at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, which can accommodate larger crowds. This year’s season, their 31st, wraps up April 24-26 with “The Power of 3,” three ballets that vary in style. The performance includes a world premiere by Viktor Plotnikov, a former principal dancer with the Boston Ballet.
While the company may perform downtown, they have made a happy home on Hope Street.
“It’s nice to be in the neighborhood because you really make that connection with people,” said Mark Morin, the Ballet’s marketing and public relations manager. “A lot of our students come from the neighborhood.”
No trip to Hope Street is complete without a visit to its epicenter, Seven Stars Bakery. Lynn and Jim Williams’ bakery has become so popular that there is a second location on Providence’s West Side. It all began in 2001 on Hope Street in what was originally a gas station.
“I loved that neighborhood and I loved that it was a gas station,” Lynn Williams recalled.
The bustling bakery is typically filled with neighborhood regulars, who are addicted to Seven Stars artisan breads and sumptuous baked goods.
“People love the Olive Bread, Toasted Walnut and Raisin, and the Durum, rustic Italian-styled bread. We are also known for our croissants and Danish, made with rich European-style butter and made fresh daily,” said Williams.