‘Killer’ pastrami, and more on its way to R.I.


Jason Sugarman has had the Rhode Island foodie community buzzing since last fall, when word spread that his new deli, Maven’s, was coming to Pawtucket.

As Maven’s posts began appearing on Instagram, the excitement built.

Then came interviews with Sugarman, newspaper articles, more social media.

So what is the latest on Maven’s? Clearly, the promise of corned beef this spring has been delayed.

But it is coming.

Sugarman, who is well-known in R.I. food circles, said in a recent interview that Maven’s Delicatessen faced a delay in getting into its Pawtucket space, at 727 East Ave. in Blackstone Place. (That plaza is home to the Feast & Fettle Neighborhood Fridge, Wildflour Bakery & Cafe, Rasoi, Garden Grille and Antonio’s Pizza.)

He said construction is now underway, and a beer and wine license has been secured.

Sugarman estimates it will take 4½ to 5 months for building and another few weeks for training. So Maven’s should be making corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, along with other Jewish specialties, in the fall. In the meantime, they will be hiring, testing out recipes and doing a few public events.

“The best part is tasting,” Sugarman, said.

He said his team has been working on the pastrami for a long time, and has perfected it. He called both his corned beef and pastrami “killer.”

Maven’s is a passion project for Sugarman.

“I used to go to the deli with my grandfather when we went to Florida,” he said, adding that those memories have stuck with him.

He said he found similar delis in Los Angeles, but not in Rhode Island.

“We need it here. People want it here,” he said.

Maven’s will feature a sandwich menu along with innovative entrees, hot dogs, hamburgers and breakfast all day. Breads, lox and assorted deli meats are among the foods that will be made from scratch.

Family recipes? Of course, Sugarman said. “We are using the noodle kugel recipe from my grandma.”

The menu won’t be kosher because there will be cheese and meat together. But it will be Jewish-infused, Sugarman said. And he hopes to have a Friday night dinner as part of the takeout menu.

Sugarman, a Rhode Island native, is a staple in the state’s food industry. He has worked with his father, Lloyd Sugarman, who became the partner of the late Ronn Teitelbaum, founder of the Johnny Rockets chain. Sugarman is a vice president of operations for 11 Johnny Rockets.

He also co-owns Pokeworks, on Thayer Street in Providence, and other locations in New England, and has been a franchisee of restaurants such as the Sugar Factory, which has a location at Foxwoods Resort Casino, in Connecticut.

Jaime D'Oliveira is his partner at Maven’s, as well as its executive chef. D’Oliveira opened Angels in 1988 and was a previous owner of Mills Tavern and Red Stripe.

Shannon Groshong is the head chef. She previously led the savory team at Seven Stars Bakery and has been running kitchens and creating menus since 2005.

Maven’s will seat about 100 people, with another 20 seats for quick service. Eventually, you’ll be able to grab a coffee and a bagel at the counter, eat there and go. There will be newspapers to browse and comic books for kids.

“My ultimate goal is to build a core store and build another smaller store elsewhere. We are trying to build it to grow. We are writing everything down. Recipes never used to be written down,” Sugarman said.

He added, “The deli is an ambassador to our culture at a time when we really need one.”

FRAN OSTENDORF (fostendorf@jewishallianceri.org) is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.

Maven's, Sugarman, deli