2014 America’s Classics: Olneyville New York SystemJBF Editors
May 05, 2014
Olneyville New York System
20 Plainfield Street, Providence, RI
Owners: Stephanie Stevens Turini and Greg Stevens
Olneyville New York System, despite its name, serves food that is distinctive to Rhode Island. Slathered with mustard, topped with meat sauce, sprinkled with celery salt and onions, and served in a steamed bun, the hot wiener is signature, as are the salt-and-vinegar French fries. The preferred drink is coffee milk, made in Rhode Island by flavoring milk with a sweetened coffee concentrate called coffee syrup.
Olneyville has been a family affair since Anthony Stavrianakos, a Greek immigrant, opened the diner in 1946 with his son, Nicholas. (Nicholas later anglicized the family name to Stevens.) Nicholas’s son Peter took over from him. Peter’s son Greg started as a dishwasher at age 13. Now he and his sister Stephanie are fourth-generation owners.
Olneyville was once the favored lunch spot of workers employed by local jewelry manufacturers. Now, nearly 70 years later, “the System” has become a multigenerational family spot, the late-night haunt of college students, and the first stop from the airport for returning natives.
The America's Classic award is given to restaurants with timeless appeal, each beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. Establishments must have been in existence for at least ten years and be locally owned.