BURRILLVILLE – It’s been just over a year since Linda Oakley Giguerre took over management of Oakley’s Food and Fun Center from her brother Phil Oakley.
A Lincoln resident and former retail sales manager for Kellogg, Giguerre has been running the massive Broncos Highway establishment – which offers go karts, mini-golf, batting cages and a restaurant – since April of last year.
And she’s been busy.
Giguerre changed the menu at the restaurant, adding more fresh, homemade items; revamped the building’s interior; and acquired a liquor license to serve inside guests. She added a kids’ play area and began hosting community events including trivia nights, open mic nights and crafting lessons.
The business – once known as Mr. Doughboy’s and more recently Sweet Caroline’s – stayed open through the winter for the first time this year, a routine Giguerre says she intends to keep up.
Now, thanks to approval last week by the Burrillville Town Council, she plans to begin serving drinks on an outdoor patio where guests can enjoy an ongoing lineup of food and entertainment.
“Support from the town has been amazing and I’ve made some great friends,” Giguerre told NRI NOW, noting that she plans to host comedy nights and even put a game of corn hole on the outdoor lawn. “It’s just things that bring the town together. Come on out, meet your neighbors and socialize.”
As the business continues to expand its reach, Giguerre has been hiring more local kids for summer jobs: she recently hired five more for a total of 15, and she says most are from Burrillville. The focus, she says, is on on clean and friendly service.
Still, it’s been a tough turnaround for an iconic Burrillville location known for summer fun.
Giguerre’s brother Oakley purchased the business in 2014 and renovated the roadside landmark creating a new kitchen and menu while retaining all of the kitschy fun that once made the former Mr. Doughboy’s popular, before it closed in 2013. A half of a million dollars was invested in repainting and repairing batting cages and refurbishing “retro” 18-hole mini-golf course. The go-kart track was also fully resurfaced, and safety barriers were installed.
But Oakley was running the business from out-of-state, and both the hours and service became somewhat inconsistent without an owner on site at the massive eat and play complex.
Giguerre was laid off from her longtime position at Kellogg and says she jumped at the opportunity to take over the job full time. She notes that her only prior experience in the industry was waitressing and bartending through college.
“That’s why we’re taking baby steps,” she said. “The foundation was here.”
It’s no small endeavor. Oakley’s has space for a crowd, with seating for up to 82 people inside the restaurant and another 20 at the permanent tables on the deck. More than a dozen additional picnic tables are scattered throughout the property.
She must also staff and maintain the mini golf area and batting cages, and keep the carts ready for a lap or two around the tracks throughout the summer.
She’s gaining traction with local groups and has coaches that meet up at the property for breakfast before games on the weekends, motorcycle clubs that stop in in masse, and clubs, like a gang of geocachers that get together at Oakley’s to catch up. In the kids’ play area, she’s hosting birthday parties, with a package that includes ice cream and a drink for each guest, along with a ride on the go karts and a game of mini golf.
Her restaurant specials change daily and are all homemade.
“We try to stick to: everything fresh,” she said.
After Memorial Day, Oakley’s will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Tuesdays, when they’ll still offer ice cream and access to the outdoor fun.
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