Talk of the Town bar

A former downtown bar forced to move after the building was razed for a hotel that was never built

About this Property

Reason for Relocation

Talk of the Town, a bar that has been on Washington Street for more than 25 years1, was forced to move to a new location in late 2007. The owners of the building, the Civic Center Parking Associates, planned to raze the building to construct a 161-room Sierra Suites Hotel [never built]. The project’s design and demolition had been approved by the city. The bar originally planned to move a few doors down into the Cogens building, owned by the same group.2

By November 2007, George Langlois, owner of the bar, planned to move to 529 Atwells Ave., where Atwells intersects with Harris Avenue at the foot of Federal Hill. But a meeting of the board of licenses voted unanimously to renew the liquor license but to deny the request to transfer it to a new location at the objections of City Councilwoman Josephine DiRuzzo, D-Ward 15. Board chairman Andrew J. Annaldo and vice chairman Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence also voted to reject the move based on the lack of parking.3

In January 2008, the director of the state Department of Business Regulation, in an appeal by the bar, overruled the license board and allowed the liquor license to the transferred to the new location.4 Demolition of the former bar started in February, 2008.

Current Events

The former location of Talk of the Town is still a parking lot (2021) for nearby businesses. The bar itself moved to 529 Atwells Avenue but later became Nolan’s Corner Bar around 2013.

Personal Anecdote

Talk Of The Town Is Dead… Long Live Talk Of The Town

Maybe we shouldn’t get all sentimental about a bar, but c’man, T.O.T.T. was great.

We won’t pretend to be TOTTers from way back, because we’re not. There are plenty of people who could tell some great stories about this place. For us, though, Sunday nights with Mike Kelly and Jamie behind the bar and the Johnny “The Colonel” Maguire spinning rockabilly, tiki, lounge, and punk favorites just couldn’t be beat.

The bar itself had character and characters. The crowd was different almost every night of the week. Walnut and oak lined the walls, and there was a series of photos from the Hurricane of ’38 over by the pool table arranged into the letters TOTT. When it was packed, you could hardly move, and when it was empty, maybe you were too intimidated to go in.

The bar relocated to the end of Atwells Avenue, past Lilies but not into Eagle Square. Part of the charm of this dive was its prime location right downtown. As more and more places go upscale, or get demolished for another hotel like this one, we will lose more and more of the establishments who were able to stick it out through the rough 80’s but can’t hold on during this new boom period. Will the establishments that replace them be able to hold on if Providence goes through another bust?

  1. CROWLEY, CATHLEEN F.. “Proposed hotel is forcing bar, popular eateries to relocate.” Providence Journal (RI), Metro ed., sec. News, 22 June 2006, pp. C-01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 11 Dec. 2021. 

  2. Ibid 

  3. Smith, Gregory. “Board pulls plug on plan to move Talk of the Town.” Providence Journal (RI), Metro ed., sec. News, 21 Nov. 2007, pp. D-01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 11 Dec. 2021. 

  4. Smith, Gregory. “DBR overrules license board on Talk of the Town move.” Providence Journal (RI), Metro ed., sec. News, 24 Jan. 2008, pp. D-01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 11 Dec. 2021.