The story of Aunt Carrie’s reads like an epic novel: Carrie and Ulysses Cooper lived in Connecticut but spent summers in Narragansett. They get the idea to sell lemonade to fishermen. Carrie teaches herself to cook seafood and then, in 1920, they set up a restaurant. Customers flock to Point Judith. Generations unfold in its kitchen.
“Aunt Carrie’s has been part of so many lives,” says Elsie Foy, the restaurant’s most recent owner. “One of the things we want to celebrate is all the staff that have worked here over 100 years. Most began here with their first job. Some kids started at 14 or 15 and worked through college, and some beyond.”
Centennials wait for no pandemic, and Foy has been overseeing a profound renovation process. The dining room will retain its historic appearance, but when all the work is done, Aunt Carrie’s will gain an upgraded kitchen, an addition to the building, and a fresh coat of paint.
“It’s taken so much longer than we expected, due to the old building, needing to reinforce floors and such,” says Foy. “We went all the way back to the studs. Electric, plumbing, and gas lines are all new.”
Under normal circumstances, Aunt Carrie’s hums all summer, serving fried clam rolls and clam cakes, fish sandwiches, local lobster, homemade ice cream, and apple pie a la mode. The building itself stands on the shore, outfitted in wood shingles and an art deco-lettered sign. Aunt Carrie’s closure had little to do with coronavirus, but the restaurant now faces the dual challenges of renovation work and statewide restrictions on dining. At press time, Foy couldn’t pinpoint a precise opening date, but she hoped it would be soon.
Still, Aunt Carrie’s has survived a century of events, including a World War and a handful of hurricanes. Foy has bundles of photographs depicting the restaurant through the decades, and the story of Aunt Carrie’s extends far beyond her own bloodline.
“The love stories that have started here are also amazing,” she says. “That’s what I want to celebrate. Everyone already knows me and my family. It’s time to celebrate everyone else.”