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By Paul Lonardo
With the success of the popular Laura’s Pleasant View Diner, opening a second restaurant seemed like a logical step. The owners wanted to try something different, but applied the same simple business practice combining great food and great service, and the result has been predictable. So when Laura and Jay Dunlea established Laura’s Bar & Grill a year and half ago, they haven’t looked back or slowed down.
“We’re very fortunate for the support we’ve had in Smithfield,” Jay says. “We took on a big challenge with the bar, but we were able to hit the ground running. We’re very happy to be in the position we’re in, and happy that we’re in this community.”
As a traditional sports bar, which features ten large HD televisions circling the bar, and serving an American pub style menu with daily and weekly specials along with a full bar, that includes a wide variety of beer, wine and specialty cocktail drinks, Laura’s Bar & Grill is a perfect compliment to the family diner on Pleasant View Avenue.
Laura is a Smithfield native and has lived in the community her entire life. Before acquiring the restaurant from its original owner in 2011, she worked for many years there as a bus girl and a waitress. She graduated from Salve Regina with a degree in Business Management.
Jay, a former Tiverton Police officer, worked alongside Laura at the diner before they married in 2014. Today they spend time in both locations, and with three children, and a fourth on the way, the demands of a restaurant business is challenging for the couple. They are able to make it work, however, because they love what they do. And it shows in the experience that diners have at Laura’s Bar & Grill, whether enjoying the large variety of food choices from their menu in the dining room or sitting at the bar watching a sporting event any time of the year and having a good time with friends and family over drinks.
Jay and Laura see a lot of regulars from the diner who now patronize the bar, and have relied largely on word of mouth to promote the business. There are weekly promotion campaigns as well, such as Wing Night and Martini Night, and specialty entrees featured on the weekend. They have recently started offering Sunday brunch from 9 am to noon, and can comfortably accommodate large parties, with choices from traditional breakfast dishes and combination plates to breakfast burritos, tacos and their popular California Sandwich. Bloody Marys and Mimosas are also available.
Everything they have done has worked out well. Laura’s Bar & Grill was recently named Best in RI by Rhode Island Monthly. They were also named Best Sports Bar by the Providence Journal. Laura and Jay both credit their staff for their success.
“We’re very fortunate to have the people we do,” Jay says. “Our staff is top notch. I love the people we work with.”
Jay and Laura consider their staff family, and like their own family, their employees have grown from about three dozen at the diner to near 150 at the bar.
If you haven’t been in yet, make it a point. Football season is right around the corner, and so is Laura’s Bar & Grill. Several big promotional events are planned this fall and winter that you will want to be a part of, including Patriots game ticket giveaways. They will also be giving away tickets to this year’s Super Bowl in Miami, which you can enter to win every Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights. You will also be able to enter to win on their website.
Laura’s Bar & Grill is open seven days from 11 am Mondays through Saturday and at 9 am on Sundays. They close later, 1 am, on Friday and Saturday nights.
There are two private function rooms that can accommodate any size party for any occasion. No reservations are required for casual dining, but call ahead to book a function room.
Visit Laura’s Bar & Grill at 945 Douglas Pike in Smithfield or online at laurasbarandgrill.com. For function room availability call 401-349-2842.