Federal Hill Pizza in Providence closes Castle Cinema location – Another blow to historic theater

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Sunday 06 February 2022

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Federal Hill pizza in Providence has closed. It is available for space rental. PHOTO: Anthony Sioni

Federal Hill Pizza on Chalkstone Avenue has now officially closed. It was located in the historic location of the castle cinema.

It was the latest effort to reinvigorate the historic theater.

A sign in the window reads: “Thank you for your patronage. This location has closed permanently. Come visit us at our Warren location.

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Space is still available for rent. Owner and chef Billy Manzo had purchased the location of the former Castle Cinema for food and entertainment.

Latest pizza moves in Providence

In the fall of 2021, Manzo had indicated it would be closing the Providence location sometime in 2022, to focus on its original East Bay location — along with a new line of frozen pizzas.

“The timing is absolutely perfect to meet the growing demand for convenience foods, especially frozen pizzas,” Manzo said last fall.

On Sunday, Manzo told GoLocal he expects to have an announcement on the frozen pizza line shortly.

“I was very lucky to be able to use Italy’s leading cheese company,” Manzo said of his new venture. “Final packaging is pending approval through the FDA process>’

Another loss for the castle cinema

Manzo’s departure is another blow to the historic theatre.

Prior to Manzo’s arrival with Federal Hill Pizza, one of the previous groups that tried to bring theater back to fame was the Gemma family.

The business was co-owned by former Democratic congressional candidate Anthony Gemma – he received a $242,600 loan through what is now known as the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP), GoLocalProv reported .

Gemma and her three brothers received the loan in 2000 (just over 2 years before Congressman David Cicilline became Mayor of Providence) and was eventually repaid in full, but like many businesses that received funding during Cicilline’s eight-year tenure at City Hall. , the Castle Cinema struggled to remain profitable and was closed in 2004.

Gemma and her brothers received an interest-free loan (most loans range from 3% to 12%) for $242,600 and had to pay it back in 120 months.

The loan was part of more than $1 million the Gemma family invested in the movie theater, which had been a landmark in the city since 1925.

According to a 2002 report, “The new owners bet they could save the old theater by turning it into the Castle Cinema and Café, offering full meals to diners who sit in seats designed for Lincoln Town Cars and watch The theater also hosts live shows and the cafe caters to diners who aren’t going to the movies or a show.

A Brown University report wrote: “The Castle Theater on Chalkstone Avenue is one of those typical old neighborhood cinemas, which became popular in American suburbs, when motion pictures had reached a certain respectability. The marquee has preserved the art deco details of the stainless steel and enameled metal marquee, which announces the films shown, under the green neon letters with its name. The facade still contains the porcelain and terracotta tiles in its brick walls. Built in 1925 in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Providence, then a middle-class neighborhood of mostly one- and two-bedroom homes, the neighborhood has transitioned from rural to somewhat more suburban, while retaining much of its wealthy story.”

In 2000 the castle was the site of Tipper Gore and members of the Democratic Party gave speeches on Al Gore’s behalf for the presidential candidacy.

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