When Amanda Nall was 17, she landed a job washing dishes at Bogue’s Alley. The corner deli stood on the Connecticut side of the Pawcatuck River, and it was known for its massive panini sandwiches and allday breakfast. “I was nervous when I first started,” remembers Nall, “but I instantly fell in love with it.”
That love blossomed, and Bogue’s Alley has become the lynchpin of Nall’s precocious career. She didn’t just work here for four years, and she didn’t just come back after culinary school; in 2014, when Nall was in her mid-twenties, she bought the place.
“That is by far my biggest and most proud accomplishment,” she says. Yet, Nall had already accomplished quite a bit – she enrolled at Johnson & Wales, studied Culinary Arts and Food Service Management, earned a Distinguished Visiting Chef scholarship, and worked alongside Barbara Lynch, the Boston-based restaurateur. The student and mentor became friends, and Nall started an internship at one of Lynch’s most acclaimed restaurants, No. 9 Park. She followed this up with an internship at Avenue N in Rumford, a restaurant that Nall still considers her favorite in Rhode Island.
“Avenue N reminds me so much of my business now,” says Nall. “Because, for such a small place, it’s amazing how much food can come out of there.” Much of Bogue’s Alley remained intact when Nall purchased the business from its previous owners, Fred and Jen Bogue. The space had previously been a general store, and a sign for Besso’s Variety still hangs near the cash register, along with other tchotchkes. Several menu items were named after Bogue’s Alley regulars, and Nall has continued this tradition; the Big Bill is named after Bill Magowan, who visits the shop twice every day. The El Jefe is named after a local named Jeff. The Nico, with its Italian sausage, vinegar peppers, and scrambled eggs, is named after Nall’s own godson.
Each day, Nall receives a shipment of thick rolls from her baker in the Bronx. Customers flow through the deli from dawn till dusk. Nall also arranges catering for a range of area clients. The tiny kitchen churns out lemon chicken, lasagna, meatballs, pastas, and soups.
While Bogue’s Alley is technically in Connecticut, Nall appreciates the neighborliness of Westerly and Pawcatuck, which behave like the same village. “I always say, my spot is the best location in town,” says Nall, who can watch the Pawcatuck River Duck Race from the deli’s doorstep. “There is a lot of foot traffic that happens down here also. We all get along, we are all friends, and we all help each other and want each other to succeed.
It’s great to see employees of other downtown businesses, and I love supporting the other businesses downtown, because in all reality I don’t have a lot of time to cook when I get home!”