In Portsmouth: ‘A blue collar version of Castle Hill’

New owner of Thriving Tree Coffee House has big plans

By Jim McGaw
Posted 12/21/22

PORTSMOUTH — Mike MacFarlane has added yet another restaurant to his arsenal of Island Park eateries — the already popular Thriving Tree Coffee House at 706 Park Ave.

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In Portsmouth: ‘A blue collar version of Castle Hill’

New owner of Thriving Tree Coffee House has big plans

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Mike MacFarlane has added yet another restaurant to his arsenal of Island Park eateries — the already popular Thriving Tree Coffee House at 706 Park Ave.

MacFarlane, who owns Tremblay’s Bar and Grill and Blue Anchor Grill — located side by side further west on Park Avenue — pulled off the hat trick when he closed on “Thrive” in early October. 

The previous owner, Kristen Kidd, first opened the coffee house in 2017 and it soon grew into a favored destination for lovers of coffee, pastry, sandwiches and good conversation. The property, which overlooks Blue Bill Cove, also hosts live music, celebrations and an annual fireworks display.

On Dec. 12, the Town Council unanimously approved several license transfers for MacFarlane’s new venture. After a brief public hearing — brief because no members of the public spoke — the council approved the transfer of a Class BV alcoholic beverage license from KJK LLC to Sunset Cove Inc., both doing business as Thriving Tree Coffee House. MacFarlane is the president of Sunset Cove Inc.

The council also approved a request to retain the permanent expansion of the service area to include a roped-off 20x12-foot patio and a 100x70-foot lawn area, comprising an approximately 7,240-square-foot area located on the west side of the building overlooking Blue Bill Cove. Service hours will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant was also granted victualler and holiday licenses.

As for the challenge of running three restaurants at once, MacFarlane said, “I own them, but I have other people managing them. I’ve been fortunate to hire people who share my vision … and my love for Island Park.”

MacFarlane has big plans for “Thrive,” but it will be a work in progress.

Until at least the early spring of 2023, he plans to keep the current hours the same and focus on the baked goods in the morning. He has a new pastry chef, Jackie Arruda, and the lunch menu will be updated, he said.

“Going into late spring, early summer, we’ll expand the hours into the evening — sunset, 9’clock — open up the back so in the evening you’ll have a place to watch the sunset, have a cocktail, listen to live music. You know, take advantage of the view that’s there,” MacFarlane said. “Our vision is to take what Kristen started and expand on it.”

He plans on coming up with a new name for the restaurant at some point.

“It’s probably not going to stay the same. We’ll go through a whole rebranding, re-making, come May,” he said, adding that Memorial Day will most likely be the time of the grand re-opening.

What will be on the menu?

Because the kitchen is not set up like his other two restaurants — the “Thrive” building was previously used as a home aquarium business — the menu will be different than those featured at Tremblay’s or the Blue Anchor.

“It’s going have to more things like charcuterie boards, lobster rolls — things that don’t need a full kitchen to prepare,” he said.

It’s also important to him that the new menu doesn’t directly compete with other Island Park restaurants, he said.

“It’s going to be value-oriented, but great quality like we do at Blue Anchor or Tremblay’s,” he said. “We know where we are.”

One of the biggest draws of the restaurant, of course, is its expansive back lawn overlooking the cove, with its patio, tables and Adirondack chairs.

“The way I look at it, it’s a blue collar version of Castle Hill,” he said, referring to the high-end Newport restaurant which features a lawn overlooking Narragansett Bay. “You’ve got the sunset, you’re got the water, you’ve got the bridge view. But, you don’t need to valet park your car, and you don’t need to drive out to Ocean Drive.”

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