Bellevue Boards, a new charcuterie board business owned by Newport resident Jackie Connor, opened its doors at 84 Broadway last weekend and is taking orders on bellevueboards.com. Each arrangement is handcrafted by Connor, who came to Newport as a college student at Salve Regina and just completed her MBA at the school in 2021. 

Jackie Connor

Broadway’s newest woman-owned business is another example of a creative “pandemic pivot.” Connor moved from Boston back to Newport in August 2020, after pandemic circumstances impacted her job in the travel industry. With free time on her hands and some inspiration from the French culinary scene she’d absorbed from selling many trips to France, Connor decided to complete her MBA at Salve Regina and turn her love for charcuterie boards into her own small business.

In addition to her signature boards—fine cheeses, meats, fruit, nuts, and accoutrements arranged on compostable palm leaf boards—Connor also offers her arrangements in boxes, cups, and cones to suit different serving sizes and event types. Orders should be placed 48 hours in advance, though Connor notes she can sometimes accommodate a last-minute call-in.

Connor is also happy to work on custom requests. “I recently did a wedding and [the client] said ‘we really want to be sustainable.’ They asked if they could do glass jars and I said ‘that’s genius!’ so we did that for them,” she said. “They returned the jars after the event and now we can offer those as another delivery option.”

Bachelorette parties, bridal showers, weddings, and date nights have already proven to be popular reasons that locals and visitors alike have sought out Connor’s charcuterie creations, but options like portable Picnic Boxes are designed for snacking on the beach, at the park, or on a boat when the weather warms up.

Connor is also planning to have pre-made grab-and-go options in the future. “I plan to have a display case at the front,” Connor said. “That way, if people walking by see something they like, they can walk away with it in that moment.”

As for sourcing ingredients for her arrangements, Connor tries to keep it local as much as she can by working with Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Beth Bakes—where she gets her gluten-free crackers—and Aquidneck Honey.

“Whenever possible, I try to support local businesses,” Connor said. “I have a lot more room to grow with building local partnerships. I envision the store front area having goods from local artisans, artists and specialty food producers who relate to Bellevue Boards.”

Connor credits Instagram as being critical to the early success of Bellevue Boards, not only as a platform for reaching potential customers, but also for connecting with owners of similar businesses. “I started this account when I didn’t know what would become of the business,” she said. “As  soon as I started sharing, it took off.” 

Instagram connections with other similar businesses locally and out of state also helped to inspire her and grow the business. “There are so many incredible charcuterie businesses that I found on Instagram throughout this whole process,” she said. “There are two women with similar businesses in Rhode Island. It’s a cool community of people.”

Prior to opening her Broadway store last weekend, Connor was operating out of the shared commercial kitchen at Mary Weaver’s Newport Cooks in Middletown, which she says gave her the ability to get Bellevue Boards off the ground with low risk.

“[Weaver] has set up her business so that small business owners who are just getting started and don’t want to commit to a full years-long lease—a really intimidating thing when you haven’t even serviced your customers yet—can cook out of her kitchen and sign a month-to-month lease. That truly allowed me to start this business,” she said.

Connor’s newly acquired space on Broadway, which she was connected to via Kirby Properties, also enables her to provide another offering that she is very excited about: charcuterie design classes

“I’ve been working on the curriculum for a while, Connor said. “This is a dream space for collaborating, answering questions, and presenting an interactive tutorial.”

Though the inaugural class is already sold out, you can still get tickets to upcoming classes in March or contact Connor to arrange a private group class with a maximum of 10 people.

Now with a storefront, Bellevue Boards will have more visibility in town, more accessibility, and room for fun and educational events. Connor is still working on solidifying store hours. Follow @bellevueboards on Instagram for updates and inspiring charcuterie stylings.