by Patrick Fuller ’21, Peter Keough ’20 A&E Co-Editors
A desert adventure company in Fountain Hills, AZ and the Providence burger bar The Abbey have one thing in common: the owners. Michelle and Jay Hoff own Desert Dog Adventure Tours, a company which rents out jeeps, hummers, buggies, and dirt bikes to tourists looking to explore the arid Arizona desert. At the same time, they oversee The Abbey, going on twenty years of ownership together.
While one might think the distance affects the owners’ connection to The Abbey, Michelle Hoff emphasized over the phone how The Abbey has made “a little name for itself” through the years. Halfway across the country, she bonds with Desert Dog customers over the intimate burger bar on Admiral Street in Providence, RI.
Perhaps The Abbey makes such an impression due to its comfortable, welcoming atmosphere, an element of the restaurant which manager Katie Hawksley successfully improved with recent renovations. She explained how the week of July 4, 2019 gave The Abbey an opportunity to reinvent its ambiance, exchanging clunky individual tables for high rise bar tops. This seating change, along with new sports memorabilia and beer advertisements lining the main wall, created a social environment for customers to mingle over a drink.
Yet the interior of the restaurant was not the only thing updated. New food menus bearing bright red and black text fit the restaurant logo’s artistic style. Clean new burger menus replaced the worn-down laminated booklets of old. Hawksley has even committed to letting patrons know which beers are currently on draft, as well as which ones are coming soon in a new section of the drink menu.
Regardless of the changes, Hawksley maintains strong relationships with the local community. The Abbey has hosted Providence College hockey radio shows since 2002. Beyond this continued bond, The Abbey always welcomes PC’s various faculty, staff, and students.
Hawksley’s commitment to local vendors and breweries is most inspiring. The restaurant offers craft beers from Smug Brewing Company in Pawtucket (Short and Stout vanilla chai stout), Foolproof Brewing Company in Pawtucket, Newport Craft Brewing, Proclamation Ale Company in Warwick (Tendril New England IPA), and Beer on Earth in Providence (Mental Math session IPA) among others. Hawksley gushed over All The Way Up, a raspberry blueberry sour beer from Mast Landing Brewing Company in Maine.
This commitment to local sourcing also extends to much of the food offered. Hawksley pointed out various menu items like pretzel-wrapped pickles and peppers made by local group Twisted Pickle Company, as well as a beef stew that includes a local stout worked into the broth.
Familiar favorite appetizers like the beer battered mozzarella sticks and bacon aki!!!, a twist on traditional chicken teriyaki, continue to shine. The steakhouse flatbread, topped with bacon, mozzarella cheese, tenderloin tips, arugula, and balsamic drizzle is a sophisticated alternative for those not ready to dive into The Roadhouse, a 12-ounce burger topped with Wisconsin Gruyére cheese, bacon, onion rings, caramelized onions, and garlic mayonnaise on a grilled onion roll.
These dishes, amongst many others, continue to demonstrate The Abbey’s dedication to the greater Providence community. Even with a revamped interior and fresh new menu items, The Abbey continues to be a staple of community-sourced cuisine for the local area.