Blaze is Back on Smith Hill with a Fusion Menu, Featuring Art, Music, Poetry and More

Berry-Jean Murray, owner of Brooklyn Tea, Coffee and Guest House, has partnered with chef Phyllis Arffa to launch Blaze Smith Hill in the space.

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After five years, Blaze is back in a new location. Longtime culinary fixture and chef Phyllis Arffa has teamed up with Berry-Jean Murray to open Blaze Smith Hill inside the former Brooklyn Tea, Coffee and Guest House, which is owned by Murray. The menu features some of the old favorites from Blaze that we know and love like spanakopita pizza, beef tenderloin and salmon teriyaki, but Arffa is also cooking up jerk chicken and catfish and baking cornbread.

“My cornbread is crazy good. I’m sorry I have to say it,” Arffa says with a laugh. “We also do breakfast all day. The whole menu is available, so if you want to have steak at 10 a.m., you can have a steak. Or you can have eggs Benedict or an omelet in the evening.”

The partners connected during the pandemic about a year ago. “Berry always wanted a restaurant and she saw an opportunity,” Arffa says. “I was cooking for friends and one of them gave her one of my meals. She called me, and I thought at first she just wanted me to cook for her. We started talking, and it turned out she wanted to partner.”

The two Black women business owners combined forces to bring Blaze back to life in the former tea and coffee house. They both have similar goals that involve fostering a community space and uplifting local artists, musicians and other Black-owned businesses. “We get along really well and have the same kind of thought processes about bringing the community together and mentoring young people,” Arffa says. ”Obviously, I love cooking and that’s my passion, but even more so bringing people together through food. It’s a really great partnership.”

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Jerk chicken at Blaze Smith Hill.

Arffa closed the Blaze East Side on Hope Street in Providence about five years ago for personal reasons. She’s glad to be back doing what she loves. The new Blaze Smith Hill has a patio garden with outdoor dining and they’ve booked several events to highlight artists, poets and musicians.

“We’re trying to uplift local talent,” Arffa says. “We’re continuing with the coffeehouse tradition as far as bringing communities together through food.”

On October 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. Big Lux electric violist will perform at Blaze, blending hip hop, bluegrass, jazz and life stories. Tickets are $40 each. There’s also a Community Open Mic night on October 22 from 6-8 p.m. and there’s a Jazz and Dinner in the Evening event on Oct. 31 from 5-7 p.m., featuring the music of Maya Breuer and Bill Jiacovelli. Tickets are $35 each and include a fusion meal of your choice.

The restaurant has a full liquor license, but they are currently building the bar. There’s beer and wine available for purchase as well as limited cocktails and specialty drinks. Arffa and Murray are looking forward to using the space to bring people together through food, art, music and more.

“I missed connecting with the community and feeding people,” Arffa says. “I love watching people smile and be happy when they are eating. My favorite thing is when someone takes the first bite of something and they don’t say anything, they just go ‘mmm’ or ‘oh my god.’ That’s my favorite moment.”

209 Douglas Ave., Providence, 401-270-3100, blazesmithhill.com

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The dining room at Blaze Smith Hill.

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