How Beloved Local Businesses Got Their Names

Del's, Nick-a-Nee's, Iggy's: They all have tales to tell.
Seven Stars Bakery, Chip Riegel. Nick-a-nee's photograph courtesy of Stephanie Finizia. White Electric, Tom Toupin. Iggy's photograph courtesy of Iggy's Doughboys and ChowderHouse.

Lynn Williams, Seven Stars Bakery: “Before I settled on opening a bakery, I wanted to be a cheesemaker. I got a job in Timsbury, England, on a sheep and goat farm making cheese. I’d stroll over to the pub once in a while. I wrote to my parents (it was 1999, they didn’t have email yet) from the Seven Stars Inn, saying I was coming to Providence to open a bakery. The farm life was not for me, at least not dealing with hundreds of unruly animals! Seven Stars stuck — I could never think of another name.”

Tom Toupin, White Electric Coffee: “Eighty-five years ago, there was a small electrical shop on Broadway owned by Ed White — the White Electric Company. The shop changed ownership several times, moved from Broadway to Westminster, and has sold everything from electrical supplies to chainsaws and tractors and, since 2000, coffee.”

Stephanie Finizia, Nick-a-Nee’s: “Nick-a-nee is a childhood name,” says the owner of the watering hole in Providence’s Jewelry District, which will celebrate its twentieth anniversary this month. “I couldn’t say Stephanie — it came out Nick-a-nee.”

Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowderhouse: Gus’s Food Stand opened in 1924 on Oakland Beach, a close-knit community of summer residents, in Warwick and was known for its hamburgers, pizza and doughboys. It thrived for more than six decades. Gaetano Gravino, an employee at Gus’s, bought the business in 1989 and put his stamp on the establishment. Gravino’s nickname was Ig, inspired by his license plate, IG-6, so his son, David, suggested the name Iggy’s. David and his sister, MaryAnn Soares, have run the popular Iggy’s (and a second location in Narragansett) since Gaetano’s death.

Del’s Lemonade: The roots of the business stretch back to 1840 in Naples, Italy, where Franco DeLucia’s father concocted a blend of lemon juice, sugar and ice (procured from snow that he stored in caves). Franco’s son, Angelo, devised a machine to perfect his grandfather’s frozen lemonade recipe and opened the first Del’s stand in Cranston in 1948. Angelo’s son, Bruce, expanded the “refreshingly different” operation from five Rhode Island franchises to international distribution — with the help of his daughter, Stephanie, who heads the Del’s spinoff, Francesca Enterprises International.