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Up All Night: For Insomniacs, Woonsocket Has No Shortage of Havens

The city has plenty of businesses open late or 24 hours serving a population of night owls.

Never mind that it's several hours past midnight. On weekend nights John Yakut and his crew at Sunrise Pizza will be busy, taking orders, making pies, and traveling about Woonsocket with deliveries. Most city residents may be sound asleep, but not all of them, and Yakut knows that those who are up get hungry.

"We love being here at night," he says during a break from the hectic routine. "We have a lot of regular customers we get to see every week. My family was in the hospitality business, so I grew up with people who love to do this. And it's great to see customers leave here with a smile."

He's not the only business person in the city who’s making hay after dark. If you're the type who’s never heard a Jay Leno monologue, you probably think Woonsocket shuts down shortly after the street lights come on. Late-shift workers and insomniacs know better. There are more than a dozen businesses in the city or just over the line with late night hours, at least on weekends. You can grab a meal or a cup of joe. You can go shopping. You can even get a cardio-vascular workout.

About the only thing you can't get is a drink. There is only one bar in the city open until 2 a.m., the state's official closing time. closes at 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. But at many places, last call rolls around by 10 p.m., even on Saturday nights.

If you wake up in the night and can't nod off again without a nosh, you could find yourself dialing Yakut for a delivery.  , at the corner of Social Street and Pond Street, is open until 4 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 a.m. the rest of the week.

They offer all the usual pizza and grinder selections and some unusual ones as well. Also on the menu: calzones, wraps, paninis, chicken dinners, pasta dinners, salads, fries, calamari, jalapeno poppers, hot wings and more.

The pizzeria also doubles as an ice cream parlor, which is good to know if you're craving something sweet. Yakut boasts Sunrise is the only place in Rhode Island that makes ice cream deliveries. Besides the usual sundaes and banana splits, they also offer an ice cream pizza with a brownie crust and such toppings as hot fudge and M&Ms.

Most nights there's a steady stream of customers walking through the doors as well. "This is a great location," says Yakut, who opened the business three years ago. "A lot of late-night workers drive by here, and they stop in for something to eat."

For a 2 a.m. caffeine jolt, you might try Donut Express, located on Front Sreet.  On Friday and Saturday the place is open all night, though on weekdays they close by 10 p.m.  Devoted customers swear the coffee, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches beat the fare found at the ubiquitous chains.

"We make all our own donuts," says John Guerin, owner for the past eight years and an employee for eight years before that. "The other places use frozen donuts. They finish them with frosting and decorations after they thaw out. We do them from scratch. Everything's fresh. We cut 'em, fry 'em, and finish them right here."

The place pulls in a big crowd minutes after the bars close weekend nights. "They're all regulars," says employee Margaret Conley. "It's like a big family. If I don't know them by name, I know them by face."

You can get coffee or a real meal any time at , located behind the Holiday Inn on Cumberland Street. The 24-hour operation was originally built to feed guests at the hotel, which has no restaurant, but has since become a favorite haven for night owls from all over the area. With its retro design and red neon OPEN sign, the building could have inspired Edward Hopper, the 20th-century artist whose favorite subject was post-midnight urban landscapes.

"It's not really an old diner," says manager Betsy Tsichlis, whose parents bought the business five years ago. "It's a modular building that was placed here in 2002, but it looks like a classic '40s diner. And we serve all the usual diner food. The chicken pot pie is very popular.

"Our customers include all kinds of people, truck drivers heading to the CVS warehouse, corporate types staying at the hotel, people who just happen to be up late and want something to do. On the weekends it can be very busy. Sometimes you have to do a little crowd control."

Some Rhode Islanders insist the only way to wrap up a night out is with a few New York wieners. For those new to the area, this snack consists of a wiener -- smaller and spicier than a hot dog -- on a steamed roll and topped with yellow mustard, celery salt, meat sauce and chopped onions. In Woonsocket, one of the most popular spots  to enjoy this delicacy is New York Lunch on Main Street, open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. The rest of the week, they close at eight.

Some weekend revelers will tell you the vitamin B in the bun will help stave off a morning-after headache. No one, however, claims wieners will ease the churning in your stomach. If you care to try the remedy, at New York Lunch $6.25 will buy you three all the way, fries and a drink. 

Other local eateries that offer late night wieners include , also on Main Street, and on River Street. Both are open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

If you're still up at 5 a.m., you're probably thinking about breakfast. If so, you might head for North Main Street, because that's where you’ll find Barbara Atstupenas serving up eggs and home fries at . For regulars, there's usually a seat available by 4:30. The diner has all the usual breakfast choices, as well as specials like biscuits and gravy and the only-in-Woonsocket dynamite omelet.

At that hour, the crowd is a mix of up-all-night types and early risers. "We get some guys from The Call and a few truck drivers," says Atstupenas, who runs the place with her husband Bob. "And there are retirees and a couple of people from North Smithfield who like getting up before the sun."

Other city restaurants open at 5 a.m. include Al's Place on Providence Street, Danny's Breakfast & Lunch on Cass Avenue, and Main Street Cafe on Main Street.

The fast-food chains can be found all over the city, but none stay open all night. If you've got a jones for that kind of chow, however, you don't have to travel far. On Rte. 146 in North Smithfield, just a stone's throw from Park Square, is a McDonald's that welcomes those who stay out after dark. A sign on the building announces "Enjoy our entire menu 24 hours."

Ever had a night when you search for an aspirin and the cabinet's bare? The at 45 Cumberland Street never closes. "We really have no need for doors,” says a clerk at the Social District store.

You can take care of other shopping errands at Dowling Village on Rte. 146 in North Smithfield, just a mile or so across the line. Walmart and CVS -- the only stores built there at this point -- are both 24-hour operations, and the Walmart has a grocery section.

Lastly, for fitness freaks who never sleep, the health club on Diamond Hill Road is open all day, every day. The same goes for Work Out World in the South Main Street Plaza in Bellingham.

Whether it's a hot meal or or some light night shopping that you're craving after dark, Woonsocket's businesses are ready for you.

William Gray December 03, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Jenna Kitchen has been closed for at least 2 months so make it over to Brabara's Place.

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