After 12 years of running Darwin Liquors on Benefit Street, George Darwin couldn’t predict another venture was waiting for him as he locked up his shop for the very last time. “[I] sold the store in 2018. Got bored — simple as that! You have to pay bills. You have to make money. You have to make a living, but deciding what I want to do with my day is most important,” says Darwin.
One year later, George saw a restaurant for sale, put a team together, and opened BRICKS, a restaurant and bar forgoing the traditional neon window signs on the Atwood & Fletcher split in Cranston. Going from an established spot on College Hill to a new venture that’s just around the corner from the Revival Brewing Co. sounds like a risk, but George takes it in stride. “We’re at the new guy plateau level. What we got to do is grow into a robust situation,” says Darwin.
Bricks is a relaxing adult establishment with poetry and painting nights, a private getaway section, all day keno and hopefully, live music to come. Their greatest pride is their unique menu created by their master of culinary arts David, a former cook from Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse at Twin River. He describes their “scratch kitchen” as his place to create new recipes based on popularity. “I hate when I go to a restaurant and they have this gigantic, overwhelming menu from Italian food to sandwiches to this ka-fuckery of everything. I like to have simple, delicious things, but put a twist on it,” said David.
Some of the highly recommended snacks and meals on the menus include Reuben egg rolls served with homemade Thousand Island dressing, Chicken Florentine, and the Bricks’ Smack & Cheese made with a béchamel sauce. David always is open to make-on-demand anything he has ready in his kitchen, including vegetarian and vegan options.
Bar manager Brittany rounds out the dynamic team by putting together seasonal cocktails and making some “mean martinis.” As Bricks continues to add layers, Darwin (the self-proclaimed dishwasher) appreciates their unique dynamic. “One of the things I learned at Darwin Liquors is listening to your customers. We didn’t bring a rulebook. Everyone seems to work together well without pointing fingers. What we do well is the best we can at our own [individual] jobs,” says Darwin.
The Bricks team is set to get approval for hosting small, independent musical acts to enhance the vibes, but there are options if you are looking for a little more privacy. “Tinder Alley,” tucked behind the bar, is a series of tables and booths where you can dine or have drinks with a friend or two. Or if you need some fresh air, you can step outside to the enclosed smoking & venting pavilion.
Darwin’s vision is to make Bricks “the first intellectual bar in Cranston” that involves local arts and provides a little special something that will make guests return for more. One tasty idea in the future is to start selling quart-sized take-home contains of their Smack & Cheese. After our interview, I took home, reheated and devoured those cheesy noodles with bacon . . . and now I want more.