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Dave’s Fresh Marketplace Remains True To Its Roots

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From its humble beginnings as a roadside produce stand in Warwick to 10 grocery store locations across several cities, Dave’s Fresh Marketplace has been serving Rhode Island since 1969.

The state’s largest locally owned and operated independent grocery, the company is pleased with the recent reopening of its Dave’s West Shore location in Warwick, near the original Dave’s Fruitland stand. The store, which was the first Dave’s brick-and-mortar site, had opened in the 1970s but closed and relocated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Susan Budlong, director of marketing and communications. “[It] was the original store, then we moved it back across the street where Dave’s had begun. Now it’s in a much bigger building.”

Dave’s has always been about providing its customers with fresh produce. Expanding on that fresh guarantee, the retailer opened a central commissary kitchen in 1994 and launched Dave’s On The Go perishable food. 

The central kitchen has since expanded to create each locations’ daily deli salads and the rest of the Dave’s brand foods. The kitchen is run by chefs Sean Devlin and Russel Rayno, who come up with new recipes to match the current tastebuds of New England. 

“We have our own proprietary recipes for things like chicken salad, potato salad, coleslaw, staple items for the summer of New England,” Budlong said.

“[The chefs] have been doing this with us for many years and they’re always developing new recipes. Depending on the flavors…some things become more popular than others. A few years ago, there were a lot of ancient grains. We had a lot of farro salads. 

“These things kind of ebb and flow with how people choose to eat and the type of ethnic foods that come into play.”

The central kitchen also is home to the Dave’s Marketplace Central baker, Mike Polce, who continues the fresh tradition Dave’s prides itself on while catering to the large local Italian culture. 

“We have a scratch bakery that we just expanded this year. It produces all kinds of fruit squares and pastry twists, Danishes and Debbie loaves,” Budlong said. “We have an old school Italian baker who does an absolutely phenomenal job making Italian cookies. 

“In fact, a couple of weeks ago he rolled out a new line of ricotta cookies…we make everything from scratch. [Polce] is an old time Italian baker and he does a phenomenal job. It helps us stand apart from everybody else.”

While the Dave’s On The Go items are marketed toward single servings, the brand also has Ready Made Meals, which can serve more people. Each location has a full-service kitchen that serves up additional comfort and regional delicacies. 

These kitchens produce a variety of foods, including fried chicken, brick oven pizzas, desserts and corn fritters. If customers want something that is unavailable that day, they can order it for pickup the next day. 

“You can pick something up for lunch or even for dinner or we have everything you’d need to make it right there in the store,” Budlong said. “We are all about quality food no matter if we serve it or you make it at home.” 

The food is so popular that the retailer has begun offering full-service catering that comes complete with servers, tableware/utensils and delivery. 

“It’s all about serving the community and providing them with the quality food they know us for,” she said.

Each location of Dave’s is involved in the community. The stores work with food banks locally and throughout Rhode Island. The company also is a big supporter of athletic programs and education. 

That community support runs so deep that while redesigning the retailer’s website, Budlong said the company has received more than 4,000 requests for assistance from various nonprofits and organizations. The requests range from financial support and gift cards to food donations and spaghetti dinners. The revamped website was set to launch in August.

For more information, visit davesmarketplace.com.

About the author

Jack R. Jordan

Content Creator

Jordan joined The Shelby Report in May 2022 after over a year in the newspaper industry. A native of Marietta, Georgia, he studied writing and communications at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He spends too much time in the grocery store trying to find recipe ingredients, so he looks forward to covering the industry.

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