Century old restaurant hits hard times
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. —
It's been a staple for nearly a century in East Providence.
But is Sparky's Coney Island Systems on Taunton Ave on its last leg?
George Watts started working for the restaurant in 1973, he's been owner for the last 18 years and has seen a steady decline in business the last five years.
According to Watts that decline has resulted in him having to have "liquidated all assets I had borrowed from friends to the point now I have to make a decision whether I stay open or not, economy isn't getting any better."
Watts says he's tried for a small business loan in the past, but was denied because he doesn't own the building.
Like many, he feels the state could be more business friendly.
He says he's just needs a loan to get him through this rough patch and has made changes to try to stay afloat, like opening now on Sundays.
He points out the history of Coney Island displayed on its walls and remembers when the old city hall burned down. Watts recalled that infamous day to NBC 10 "I came down and we gave free coffee and whatever the fire and policemen needed while it was burning down."
And that's the kind of owner Watts continues to be there for the community, which is why he has such a loyal customer base many of whom don't want to see it go.
Janis Mooradian lives in the neighborhood and has been coming here literally all her life, and she told NBC 10 "he's tried everything possible to keep open sad, whatever happens it's sad."
What Watts needs now is more of his former customers back, and new ones too, so he can make it to that 100 year old mark.