The Iggy's Family
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.
Oakland Beach History
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.