One of the things that makes the Westerly-Pawcatuck area attractive to locals and visitors is the friendliness of its many shopkeepers. Situated on the Pawcatuck Bridge on the border of Pawcatuck and Westerly, sits Bogue’s Alley, a hometown eatery and market that opened in 2004 in the building that had previously housed Besso’s Variety store.
Ten years after opening, the original owners, Fred and Jen Bogue, sold the business to one of their employees, Amanda Nall, who has continued their spirit of friendliness, connection to the community, and the provision of delicious menu items to hungry customers six days a week.
Bogue’s Alley, with its tag line “a well-rounded market and deli”, is a quintessential New England small business housed in an old building full of character and decorated with fun and quirky signs on its walls. Customers are greeted by a plump statue of “Pat the pig”, whose outfits can change daily, on the front step. Once customers walk through Bogue’s door they immediately smell the aroma of delicious foods being prepared and hear the chatter of friendly conversations.
Bogue’s is a place where the regulars are welcomed by name, and there are lots of regulars. If lucky, a customer might even get a sandwich named after him or her. As an example, take Bill, who has a sandwich named after him called “The Big Bill” – a cheddar cheese and chicken sandwich with bacon, caramelized onions, and buffaque (buffalo/barbeque) sauce, or the “Paulette” which has sprouts, cheddar cheese, cucumbers, tomato, red onion and sunshine sauce. The menu is full of interesting offerings from soups to salads, and sandwiches to paninis.
Customers can order items from the breakfast menu all day such as bagels, muffins, Bogue’s special breakfast pizza and egg sandwiches. The El Jefe Breakfast Burrito sounds good – it’s a wrap filled with egg, sausage, onion, salsa, black beans, cheddar cheese and sour cream. Sounds like that is enough for two Jefes!
As for how Bogue’s Alley got its name: the original owners named it after an area in Mystic, near what was called the Fort Rachel neighborhood. Fred Bogue’s father and other Bogue families lived in the area and the post office dubbed that delivery area Bogue’s Alley. Fred and Jen Bogue also had a pet pig at one time so that is where the pig theme came from. Pat the pig, which was purchased at a tag sale, stands just outside the door. This happy and rotund pig on Bogue’s step easily brings a smile to those walking or driving over the bridge.
Bogue’s owner, Amanda, grew up in Westerly and attended Westerly High, graduating in 2007. She started working at Bogue’s as a dishwasher when she was 17 and continued to work there after high school while she attended Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island, working towards a teaching degree.
Amanda loved working at Bogue’s and when the owners talked about selling, Amanda stepped forward and showed interest in becoming the new owner. She switched gears and went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales and in October of 2014 Amanda became Bogue’s new owner, and one of two trained chefs, among other faithful staff who have been with Bogue’s for many years.
This year will mark Amanda’s fifth year in business. Asked what has surprised her about being a business owner, she said it can be unpredictable at times. Bogue’s can go from “zero to a 100 in a matter of minutes”, referring to the number of customers that come through the door, or a maintenance issue that pops up, or the phones ringing off the hook with orders or catering requests. There is never a dull moment at Bogue’s and it sounds like Amanda wouldn’t have it any other way. She can’t imagine doing anything else.
Bogue’s Alley is very supportive of the local community and has done fundraisers for St. Michael’s reconstruction, Dorian Murray and autism awareness. Come on down to Bogue’s Alley, enjoy some good food made by Amanda and her crew and see Pat the pig. It’s a great neighborly place to be.