Shared from the 3/18/2020 The Providence Journal eEdition

Landlord offers restaurant tenants a rent discount

Stephen Ramponi says he hopes others will follow his example to help businesses struggling amid virus outbreak

NEWPORT — A landlord with four tenants on lower Thames Street is offering a 25% discount on rent to the restaurants in his buildings for the coming month in light of the struggles business owners are facing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Stephen Ramponi, a Newport resident who owns the buildings that house Winner, Winner, Karma Pizza, Breakwater Surf and the parking lot for Scooter World, said he’s hoping his actions will encourage others to follow suit.

Ramponi said an Instagram post by Thames Street Kitchen on Thursday opened his eyes to the struggles restaurants and other small businesses are facing because of the outbreak.

The Instagram post reads, in part: “Tonight, we cooked for only 4 people. It might be the slowest night of our 9 years here in Newport. It’s a strange feeling really. ... I could tell you about how many sani wipes we went through today, and how our hands are dry and chapped from the constant washing. Instead, I want you to know that LIFE is not over. It really isn’t! You’ve got a lot of hardworking people out there who quite frankly are relying on you to show up ... smile ... laugh ... cheers ... and throw some positive energy around. ... xoxo Anna”

The owners of Thames Street Kitchen also own Winner Winner, and they were Ramponi’s first tenants when he purchased the building at 677 Thames St.

“I live in Newport. I benefit from everything Newport has to offer. Everyone who lives in town needs to do their part to help each other, not just the economy, but to help each other,” Ramponi said.

Reducing rent will cost him thousands of dollars. Even if it doesn’t do much for the restaurants’ bottom line, he said, “sometimes it feels good just to be acknolwedged.”

Ramponi works three jobs, has a startup and has lost money in the stock market during this time, like many others. But “at the end of the day, they’re hurting more than me, and it’s good for everyone to do their part,” he said. “We all need to pitch in together.”

He said next month, if business in the city is still not doing well, he’ll be buying gift cards to support other local restaurants aside from his tenants, and he encourages others looking for a way to help to do the same.


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