Delayed renovations soon to get underway at The Pines restaurant for 2022 reopening

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A long-awaited construction project at the former Pines Restaurant will soon get underway, under a new owner who hopes to see the business reopened by the end of this year.

The restaurant, which closed abruptly in 2017, was purchased by Massachusetts-based investor Rosa Zhang in 2019. Zhang filed for a building permit with the town in 2020 that will see some $130,000 invested into the property, with major renovations to the interior of the restaurant, bar and banquet facility, including the removal and addition of walls; new floor and ceiling finishes, installation of new kitchen equipment and more.

But Building Inspector Kerry Anderson notes that Zhang lost the contractor originally slated to work on the project and ultimately put a halt on construction that year.

“It was applied for in April, 2020 and issued May, 2020, right when the pandemic was getting bad,” Anderson explained.

Plans prepared by ACME Architect, LLC for the property at 1204 Pound Hill Road show features including a new vaulted ceiling, and a covered deck added to the upper level of the building. Designs depicting new, larger bathrooms and a fresh layout for the space, with some walls removed and others added, are on file at Town Hall.

Doing business as The Pines Events & Promotions, Zhang also hired an interior designer. Providence-based Libby Slader Interior Designs submitted draft layouts showing new lighting and furniture.

Anderson noted that under normal circumstances, Zhang’s permit would have expired after six months of inactivity. But following a two-year pandemic that has thwarted even the most well-laid plans, North Smithfield’s building/inspection office has left several permits open due to the hardship.

And this week, Zhang told Anderson that she is ready to begin construction.

“She said she’s ready to get started,” Anderson said.

The Braintree, Mass.-based investor, who works in international marketing, has also said she hopes to expand the outdoor area for entertainment, and add landscaping to the 7.56 acre lot. Warwick-based Cobalt Industries, Inc. was the original contractor named on the permit.

She discussed the potential of the property earlier this year, noting there’s a chance patrons could enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner in 2022 at the new Pines Restaurant, once a local classic. Her plans show seating for up to 256 customers including the banquet space, with outdoor dining for up to 20 people, and new food service equipment provided by Trimark.

Situated in a grove of white pines from which it gets its name, the structure that served as The Pines Restaurant was built in 1936, according to town property records. Zhang noted that an etching on the fireplace marks that it was once a fish-flying club.

It was opened as a restaurant in 1965 by the Peloquin family, and changed ownership in 2012, when it was purchased by KITA Realty, a company managed by David Healey. Zhang bought in August of 2019 for $425,000.

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