Each summer, thousands of people in downtown Newport flock to a central location on Thames Street around 1 am. It’s a phenomenon that has become synonymous with late-night pit stops on the way home from the pubs. As of yesterday, the restaurant responsible for this migration is no more.
The owners of Via Via Pizza were effectively evicted yesterday morning from their location at 372-380 Thames Street after months of falling behind close to $88,000 in rent payments. A handwritten sign accompanied by a writ of execution – trespass and eviction notice was posted on the front door of the establishment. The notice reads as follows, “This property was seized pursuant to civil action file #2CA-2017-01121. NOBODY is allowed to enter this property without Constable Ken Norigian being present. Any questions should be directed to Constable Norigian c. 401-324-9748.”
WhatsUpNewp reached out to Constable Norigian but aside from the letter posted in the window, he is unable to formally comment on the matter due to legal restrictions. WhatsUpNewp also reached out to Mohamed Badr, the defendant in the matter under the LLC., 3M&J, Inc., but he declined to comment. At 3 pm this afternoon, a group of Mr. Badr’s associates were on hand outside the location to remove all perishable items from the premises.
Along with the financial troubles plaguing Via Via, multiple complaints from neighbors on Ann Street forced the business to invest in measures to secure trash which was a recurring issue at the downtown location. Late night crowds, inevitable litter caused by those patrons, unorganized wood delivery drops on Ann Street and ruckus have caused controversy at the location over the years. The eviction probably ends the restaurant’s tenure in town, which started in 1988. The company does have another location at 369 Douglas Avenue in Providence, which is situated down the street from Providence College’s campus.
The owner of Via Via also had a long-term lease at 404 Thames Street, where they operated Juicy Cheesy and another restaurant venture for a couple of seasons. What’sUpNewp has learned that the lease of that property has been terminated and will soon become a new restaurant, under new ownership. For the past two summers, Via Via also has run a sort of pop-up pizza shop between Kilwins and Benjamins on Thames Street. The future of Via Via at that location is unknown at this time.
According to 372-380 Thames Street property manager Derek Grinkin, who works for the owners of the building in Thames Street Ventures, most of the equipment in the building was leased but the pizza ovens were part of the building and will remain on-premise.
With Via Via out, Thames Street Ventures is hoping to divide the vacant property into two new business spaces, with one being a prime spot for a pizzeria or restaurant venture and the other for retail business. “We look forward to the new opportunities this brings the building, the new business owners, and Thames Street,” says Grinkin, who hopes that a young, passionate entrepreneur will come in and take the prime location in a new, positive direction.
Thames Street Ventures is in the process of securing a realtor for the properties but in the meantime, if anyone has interest in either space, please feel free to contact Derek Grinkin at Element Property Solutions (401) 856-9193.
Mr. Badr or his lawyer has been in front of Newport City Council during the last three Regular Council Meetings (Dec. 14, Jan. 10, & Jan. 24) to renew their victualing license. During the meetings City Administration and City Council has made it clear that renewal of their victualing license was pending payments and issues with the State of Rhode Island. Council has made it clear that inorder to get a victualing license renewed, they need to get their corporation in good standing, they have also inquired about a trash pickup contract, and have inquired to see if a metal gate where the dumpster had been fixed (watch hearing in video – begins at approximately 19:40).