Restaurants, even the most beloved, go out of business all the time. As quickly as a new one opens, another is shutting its doors. The restaurant industry is an incredibly competitive business, difficult to maintain, and our current economy has left restaurants to juggle increased wages, rent,
and labor costs. As a result, independent mom-and-pop shops are unable to continue serving their customers. Chain restaurants are expanding their footprints, leaving communities to mourn the
loss of their beloved corner coffee shop or neighborly pizza parlor. Instead of small businesses thriving, unique parts of cities are converting into duplicates manufactured by consumerism.
In a small city like Providence, it is much more apparent when small businesses close in comparison to larger cities such as, Los Angeles
or New York. Providence’s size makes it more
common for its inhabitants to eat at the same or similar restaurants. Providence also rarely
attracts the establishment of larger chains because of the lack of foot traffic. Unlike Los Angeles
for example, restaurants come and go at such an exceeding rate that civilians do not even realize when old establishments are closing because of how quickly they are replaced. As a Los Angeles Native myself, this is one of the greatest differences I discovered once moving to Providence. There
was more of an emotional attachment ingrained in community and local businesses. So much so
that petitions or crowdfunding platforms are a common occurrence in helping save independent restaurants. The treatment of small businesses here in Providence have inspired me to take a second glance and appreciate a moment in time that only few will remember.
This book was made to commemorate 12 restaurants that have recently closed in Rhode Island in the past year or so. Each restaurant
was not a chain but rather a small businesses that failed to succeed. However, when I use the word succeed I do not mean that they did not bring happiness to its customers, but rather it was unable to continue for whatever reason. In order to bring justice to each location, I collected research on the restaurants’ history, menu, aesthetic, and directed audience. The next step in my process was finding each address through Google Maps street view to see its most recent state. The images ranged from 2012 to 2017. Although the images were relatively accurate, I knew I needed to physically visit each one to photograph its current state. Not only would this capture the result of a business left behind, but in a way I was traveling to say goodbye as I would if I were visiting individual graves.
I chose to encapsulate all my findings in a book because similar to a camera, a book captures a moment in time. The internet continually updates similar to the everchanging businesses but through a book these establishments will now have a place to rest. A record of what they are and who they once were. I am saddened by the fact that I never was or will be able to go taste and experience each restaurant for what it was, but through this process I feel that I have been touched by something more powerful than just a simple meal.