Open a new cafe where a beloved one stood for 37 years? Have your grand opening during Phase III of a pandemic? Vouloir, c’est pouvoir. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And that was certainly the case for David Fierabend, who opened Groundswell Cafe & Bakery at the former Provender space at Tiverton Four Corners. Approach the entrance of the circa 1876 building to find parchment menus listing cafe fare with inspired twists including breakfast all day, and in keeping with their buy local/Francophile vibe, locally roasted coffee alongside gourmet Mariage Frères tea imported from the City of Light.
One step inside the completely renovated space to place your order, and you are surrounded by a handsome aesthetic with most everything from jars of local honey to floor mats branded with the elegant all-caps logo. Groundswell is a stand-alone cafe but part of Groundswell Design Group, a company based in Philadelphia and Detroit – comprised of designers, builders, and craftspeople including Fierabend, a landscape architect – that designs public spaces, restaurants, cafes, and distilleries around the world.
So how did Four Corners get so lucky? Fierabend, while based primarily in Pennsylvania, has had a longtime adoration for Newport County. “I remember having tomato galette at Olga’s Cup and Saucer, and liking the slower pace of the area,” he says, recalling the days when the now-closed cafe was adjacent to Walker’s Roadside Stand on West Main Road in Little Compton. “When I heard that the Provender building was for sale, I had to take a look.”
Not only was 3883 Main Road available, but the Arnold Smith House across the street. The post and beam cottage with gambrel roof, which most recently housed a gallery, was also purchased by Fierabend. Now, steps from the cafe, Groundswell Garden + Home is a charming warren of small rooms each stocked with garden tools, paper goods, and kitchen accessories. The shop’s parking lot was quickly transformed into an outdoor dining area for the bakery/cafe just weeks after opening. Secured from the street by a series of large planters, there is now a group of socially distant tables and chairs; a parked red pickup truck that acts as a sort of landmark keeps napkins and coffee stirrers at the ready. Together the neighboring cafe and shop form a cohesive place to eat, shop, and repeat.
While the dining room is currently off-limits, Groundswell just obtained a liquor license and looks forward to serving indoors, but for now, there’s something kind of special about sitting outside sipping coffee at a small table dressed with a vase of fresh flowers, eating chicken salad on a chewy baguette, and using real flatware, admiring the surrounding foliage and passersby on Main Road on a chilly afternoon.