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Galliford’s, at Southwick’s Zoo, ʽjust want the Valley needed!’

By Rod Lee

It early returns are any indication, the Brewer family’s foray into the food and beverage business with Galliford’s at Southwick’s Zoo is going to be a huge success.

The 22,000-square foot year-round restaurant and tavern, which opened in February, is already winning praise.

“Galliford’s is just what the Valley needed!,” Jeannie Hebert, president of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, told the Blackstone Valley Xpress. “A restaurant and function facility to serve families or formal and business events. The BVCC was honored to be the first organization to hold a public event there, our Annual Legislative Breakfast. The food and service were fantastic, and they were only opened that week."

“It is just lovely. Every detail of the building was carefully selected. From the outside it strikes me as a mini Animal Kingdom Lodge but the interior is elegant yet comforting and inviting. I cannot wait for the weather to accommodate outdoor seating. A little birdie told me that we will be able to view the zebras while dining. Does not get much better than that!

“And Galliford’s was voted ʽPeople’s Choice Winner’ at the Chowder Festival, recently held at the Home & Business Expo. It is clear that Galliford’s has already developed a few fans!”

Finally able to breathe something of a sigh of relief over a Caesar salad in the dining room last Friday while anticipating the soft opening of the zoo’s grounds this week, Betsey Brewer said she still can’t believe the project—the culmination of a vision that first materialized about ten years ago—is finished. There were countless hurdles along the way.

This building has taken on a life of its own,” Ms. Brewer said. “Different architects, different designs, we even initially thought of a cafeteria.”

Instead they decided on a beautiful sit-down establishment that features “a rustic feel,” a full kitchen, a four-season deck along the rim of the dining area that overlooks the zoo, a handsome bar and offices and function rooms upstairs. Still in the works is a patio and fire pit area along with additional 150-capacity event space, a bakery and café and takeout directly beneath the main dining room.
The bar at Galliford’s.

With Ms. Brewer’s sister Cindy Lavoie handling the food and beverage end of the operation, “it’s a family venture for sure,” Ms. Brewer said. Ms. Lavoie and “Chef Geo” created the menu, which Ms. Brewer described as “comfort food with a twist,” meat, fish and chicken “fresh daily,” a strong farm-to-table emphasis, brick-oven thin-crust pizza, soups, salads, burgers, macaroni and cheese. “Come summer the fare will be lighter,” she said.

With “wonderful pastry chef” and family friend Tracey Lamb on board and Bobby Demaris hired as general manager, the Brewers have thought of everything. They are planning to incorporate a “history wall” of old photographs in the entranceway.

In typical Brewer-family fashion steps were taken to ensure that the building is geothermally cooled and heated up to and exceeding state standards.

That the community is already embracing Galliford’s for lunch and dinner is apparent in Ms. Brewer and her mom Justine’s comment that “we’re seeing people we haven’t seen in 20 to 30 years!”

Galliford’s is not the only thing new at Southwick’s this year. Look for the “Soaring Eagle” zip line, a two-passenger ride, to be operational hopefully by Memorial Day weekend, Ms. Brewer said. Patrons of Galliford’s will be able to see “people getting on and off” the zip line from the four-season deck. Passengers will ride at 30 miles per hour right through part of the park, skirting the edge of the lions’ exhibit.

Ms. Brewer laughed in asserting the zip line will be a lot safer than ones she has seen in places like Zimbabwe and Costa Rica. “In Belize you have to climb a ladder on a tree to get to the ride; how safe is that?” she said.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.

The bar at Galliford’s.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.