It all started with a promise and from there it was built on a vision. Gaetano Gravino was a hairstylist who had found part time work at a doughboy shack in Oakland Beach. This part time work turned into an opportunity that spoke to his entrepreneurial spirit - the same spirit that lives on in his wife and children: Sally, MaryAnn, David, and Guy. When the chance came to lease the establishment, Gaetano and his wife Sally took it. And in 1989, Iggy’s Doughboy and Chowder House was born - coined after a nickname given to him by his son, David. The featured dish at the time was the red chowder - the recipe a family secret created by Sally herself.
The Gravino’s took the helm with the mission of preserving the spirit of the original stand and the goal of keeping the livelihood of the Midway alive - and they did just that. Shortly before David’s father passed away, he asked David to make a promise - to carry on with the family business. Despite being a senior at Johnson & Wales with the open future ahead, he honored his father’s wish and in doing so, had a vision. He saw beyond the stand and the long lines of people waiting for their doughboy fix during the hot summer months. He saw beyond the surrounding area that had fallen into disrepair. He saw the Oakland Beach of long ago married with the Oakland Beach of the future. The realization of this vision then became an integral part of the already important plan.
In 1999, it began with a dining room that was added to the doughboy stand in Warwick. In 2000, the Narragansett doughboy and chowder house was opened and the beginning of the Iggy’s Brand began to take shape. In 2008, the original stand was completely renovated with a nod to New England in both look and decor. In 2015, Iggy’s expanded once more and added The Boardwalk Restaurant to the family as well as a brand new establishment for the Narragansett location - both styled after the renovation of the original Iggy’s. In the summer of 2015, Iggy’s Creamery opened it’s seasonal window and joined the growing family. Today, Iggy’s represents a promise kept and a mission well underway, but far from complete - and the red chowder is still on the menu. David is excited for what the future holds and looks forward to sharing it with all of you.
Oakland Beach is steeped in Rhode Island History. Once a summer playground for the wealthy of Rhode Island, the area fell into disrepair following a string of disasters - both natural and otherwise. At the turn of the century, Oakland Beach was home to the Oakland Beach Grand hotel; it was modelled after the famed Ocean House in Westerly and was the only hotel in the area with electricity and running water. A trolley system was built to cater to a community longing for the shores of RI and lacking a proper highway system to take them there. It didn’t take long for disaster to strike, and a fire demolished the beach side resort. In it’s place, an amusement park was built and sadly suffered the same fate as the hotel, destroyed by the hurricane of 38’. There was an effort made to restore the amusement park that had become a landmark for the community and a getaway for those who took the trolley to enjoy sunny afternoons by the sea. Tragedy struck the area again when the hurricane of 54’ completely demolished the area - taking with it what have become relics of an Oakland Beach of the past: The Wizz Rollercoaster, Sholes Skating Rink, and The Dodgems. Sadly, there was no effort to rebuild the area this time, and eventually it fell into total disrepair. Oakland Beach had been written off by many and had been forgotten by most, except someone who saw the beauty of its history and natural surroundings: David Gravino. Guided by an enchantment of all that Oakland Beach was and the inspiration of all that it can become, he works tirelessly to breathe life back into the area and rewrite it’s future.
David Gravino — When the first Iggy’s opened in Oakland Beach, Rhode Island back in 1989, few could have imagined just how a simple doughboy and chowder house could evolve into the brand it has today - except David. Equipped with a deep respect for the history of the area and a passion for food and business cultivated through his experiences with his mother and father, David saw very clearly what Iggy’s could and eventually would become. And he’s not done realizing his vision. Like his parents, he has enlisted the help of his family; his children, Gianna and David Jr., work within the family’s restaurants and help continue to carry on the family legacy.
Over the years Iggy’s has grown and expanded to two doughboy and chowder houses in two iconic Rhode Island locations, the Boardwalk Restaurant which features a full food and drink menu, and the seasonal Creamery, with each widely considered among the most authentic and delicious places to experience a taste of Rhode Island. Each property echoes David’s penchant for regionally inspired interiors and regionally sourced food. From the shores of Oakland Beach to the shores of Narragansett, Iggy’s signature always includes thoughtfully designed buildings, impeccable service, beautiful surroundings, and some of the best food Rhode Island has to offer.
MaryAnn Soares — Like David, MaryAnn spent much of her young adult life in the doughboy and chowder house with parents, Gaetano and Sally. She cultivated a passion for the culinary world by working side by side with her family. She merged this passion with her academic background in accounting, and plays an integral role in the business side of the brand and helping David realise his vision. More importantly, she continues to work tirelessly within the restaurants, carrying on her hands on approach to the inner workings of this successful brand. MaryAnn has also instilled this love and respect for the food, the community, and the establishments within her children, Isabella and Anthony, who now work along side their mother — just as she had with her mother and father when it all began.
“Our whole brand is geared towards families” — Providence Journal Bulletin
Best Clams in Rhode Island — USA Today’s 10 Best
“Some locals won’t call it summer until they’ve hit Iggy’s” — Rhode Island Monthly
“The search for the best clam chowder in the land led to Iggy’s” — CBS Early Show