Spoonem's turns 30

Celebrating an Edgewood treasure; it’s time for Waltonpalooza!!
By RUDY CHEEKS  |  June 1, 2011

If I want to experience the best of Vo Dilun, all I have to do is walk around the corner from my house. On Broad Street in the Edgewood section of Cranston you'll find J.P. Spoonem's, a real diner with breakfast and lunch. It's the hub of activity in my neighborhood. Spoonem's turned 30 on June 1 and it is one of those great places that, perhaps, you have in your community.

There are a lot of diners in the Biggest Little that are similar to Spoonem's. Off the top of my head I can think of the Liberty Elm in Providence and the Modern Diner in Pawtucket. The Liberty Elm is a favorite of the LGBT community and a lot of musicians and artists have their breakfast there. They even do live music on the weekends. And I was recently at the Modern in Pawtucket with my good buddies and fellow musicians Phoebe Legere and Sir George Leonard after we did Mike Sheridan's radio show at WOON in Woonsocket.

It was a little after 11 am and, while they serve breakfast all day long at the Modern, we had lunch. What was striking was how popular George was when we walked in. This is his favorite local diner (his family's Mr. USA 1 Hour Cleaner is not too far away) and the entire staff there knew George and came out to say hello. George was inquiring about their families and it was just the type of community scene that you'll find at Spoonem's and other diners.

The husband-and-wife team of Joe and Pat Mangione opened Spoonem's and are still there just about every day, Joe keeping the books and cooking in the back and Pat waiting tables and serving as the hostess. There is also "Cece," another fixture at Spoonem's, who's been waiting tables for at least the last 20 years.

Some mornings you can go into Spoonem's and literally everybody knows everybody else. Families are a fixture. There was a celebration for a granddaughter's first birthday this past Saturday morning. The same morning I ran into Jim Hackett, the son of my old radio partner, John Hackett, who passed away a few years back. We talked about how his mom was doing (doesn't want to leave the old house, even though her children are encouraging her to move to a smaller place and take it easy). In other words, just the kind of human exchange that occurs in all small communities, those rapidly vanishing bulwarks of America.

The Edgewood community — and my neighborhood in particular — is a fabulous melting pot with a multiplicity of ethnic groups, a prominent LGBT community, old-time Cranstonites, and lots of families. This is unusual in these transitory days, driven by a corporate greed that tends to (with rare exceptions) have no concern for what strong communities can bring to a workplace.

Even in the bad old days of the mill barons, there were planned communities (think Shannock Village in Hope Valley) and many of the mills took care of their workers on the one hand, while exploiting the hell out of them on the other.

There is also a unique mixture of the fairly well-off and the struggling working class in Edgewood — and everyone tends to get along. I love living there.

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  Topics: Cool Cool World , Linc Chafee, Cranston, food,  More more >
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