When I first moved to the area three years ago I have to admit, I shied away from Clydesdale Tavern, located at 47 Canal Street between Pleasant St. and Industrial Dr. in what use to be called “The Devil’s Triangle” part of Westerly. One night a friend of mine was game for pool, ping pong and grabbing a drink, so we agreed to meet at Clydesdale.
Walking through the door I was a little apprehensive but that soon dissolved when we settled in at the bar, were greeted with a smile by Rose the owner and met some really friendly locals while playing pool. I had so much fun I threw my own surprise 50th birthday party there the following year and it’s one of my favorite places in the neighborhood.
For the past 15 years, Rose Turdo has worked very hard as the owner to let people know that Clydesdale Tavern is not the old Shamrock Café that was there from the 1950s but a new business and one she is very proud of establishing in the community. With roots planted in Westerly growing up on Chestnut Street, Rose always felt a connection to the neighborhood and her Italian heritage.
As chance would have it, during a Columbus Day parade more than 15 years ago Rose and her husband David Morel took a break from their motorcycle ride to wait out the parade at the old Shamrock. She remembers the owner “Bucky” (Harold Hensley) behind the bar busy doing his thing and he mentioned that he would sell the building tomorrow if someone came along.
Well, Rose turned out to be that right someone when she came back the next day and approached Bucky “I want to buy your building.” She continued to work at United Builders Supply (after a 17-year career, she’d risen to operations management) while doing renovations which included: new electrical system, paint, roof, carpet, a complete overall inside and out and eventually she opened her new business Clydesdale Tavern in October of 2004. “It took right off and continues to thrive,” says Rose. “Regular customers come and go and become part of the Clydesdale Family where everybody looks out for each other.”
Proven when the 2010 flood came to town and wreaked havoc with her electrical and heating/AC system and flooded the basement. She had to redo everything she had just done when she first opened but the town rallied around her especially her old colleagues at UBS and the Softball Team. “Very thankful; they came and said what do you need and had at it, “ said Rose. “Very lucky I had those friends.”
Many friendships are formed at Clydesdale past, present and future. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere, all the memorabilia collected over the past 15 years hold a special meaning to Rose and on any given night there are quarters put down for pool games played, ping pong, darts, shuffleboard is free, and the jukebox adds a nice background distraction.
There is Karaoke on Friday nights and on random Sunday afternoon bands play and BBQ’s are enjoyed. Every year Rose puts on a free celebration in support of giving back to the community along with holiday meals for St.Paddy’s, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Rose credits the consistency of people that come in as a positive impact on the success: “Keeping it real and making memories with friends old and new. I’ve made a lot of great friends.”
What does the future hold for Clydesdale Tavern? “I will never sell this place, this is home,” says Rose. “Everybody is welcome, without prejudice come one come all, white-collar blue-collar no collar.”
As I was leaving Clydesdale Tavern after this interview Rose went around behind the bar: “Hi, how is everybody doing?”