If you've ever spent time in Narragansett, Rhode Island, there's a good chance you've heard of Aunt Carrie's.
No, this isn't a famous resident's house, but rather a seafood restaurant that first opened its doors in 1920 that locals recognize as an institution.
Aunt Carrie's seafood shack sits on Ocean Road between Scarborough Beach and the Point Judith Light, making it a great place to stop for a meal or a drink after a day on the water. The venue even has a trail to the waterfront out back for anyone wanting a picnic on the beach.
The restaurant is open from April through September, has dine-in and take-out, and offers anything you could ever want from a New England clamshack.
Once you buy a home in South County, Aunt Carrie's is sure to become a summer tradition for your family.
A History of Aunt Carrie's
As was mentioned before, Aunt Carrie's first opened in 1920, but its tradition is actually even older.
In the preceding years, Auntie Carrie herself, also known as Carrie Cooper, along with her husband, Ulysses, would load their six children into a Model-T and drive from Connecticut to Narragansett to swim, fish, and camp.
For the most part, the Cooper family would spend their time near Point Judith, but Ulysses quickly noticed that the area didn't have a single place to get a cold drink.
To remedy this situation, the Coopers started selling lemonade to other campers, along with local anglers who were coming in for the day. The children would collect clams from the beaches, as well, and Carrie would make clam chowder with them. She also experimented with her corn fritter recipe, creating her world-famous clamcakes.
The smell from Carrie's seafood creations would travel to other campsites, and even fishermen would visit to ask what she was making.
Eventually, Ulysses said that Carrie should try selling her chowder and clamcakes, along with the lemonade.
To sell these items, the Coopers built a shack near Point Judith Light House, and it was successful enough that Ulysses bought a piece of property in 1920, where Aunt Carrie's remains to this day.
The name, as you might expect, comes from the fact that the Coopers would often bring their nieces and nephews to the beach with them, and it seemed like these children were always calling for her.
The first generation of Coopers ran the restaurant until 1953 when Ulysses died, and Carrie retired. At that point, their daughter, Gertrude, and her husband, William, took over the operations. Carrie would pass away in 1964.
By 1984, the third generation of the family was operating the restaurant, as Bill, son of Gertrude and William, and his wife, Elsie, took over. Bill died in 1994, but Elsie still runs Aunt Carrie's, along with her daughters, who are now the fourth generation to be involved.
With the youngest members of the family remaining part of its operations, there's a good chance that Aunt Carrie's will stay in the family for years to come.
The World's First Clamcake
Today, clamcakes are a staple throughout Rhode Island, as you'll find them on the menus of most seafood shacks. The first known clamcakes, however, were created by Aunt Carrie when she began putting chunks of clam in the corn fritters she was making at her campsite.
The recipe is rather simple, it's just pieces of dough with clam pieces that are mixed with eggs and fried in beef shortening. The end result, however, is a local delicacy that is something you'll have to try after moving to South County, RI.
Aunt Carrie's clamcakes are so famous that they ended up on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" series, with host Guy Fieri saying they are "done to perfection."
Whenever you're in Narragansett, you'll undoubtedly want to give them a try.
Other Items on the Menu
Although the clamcakes are what make Aunt Carrie's special, there's a lot more to the menu than that.
Items like steamed clams, whole lobsters, fried scallops, shrimp, swordfish, and fish and chips are all available, and you can order them as part of a complete dinner or a plate featuring potatoes, salad, and bread.
Or, if you aren't into seafood, Aunt Carrie's also has hamburgers, steak, and chicken to enjoy.
At lunchtime, try the lobster roll, which is one of Rhode Island's best, or the BLT, grilled cheese, tuna roll, clam roll, or chicken sandwich.
For dessert, there's a wide selection of pies that are made daily from scratch, and the strawberry shortcake is always delicious. Aunt Carrie's Ice Cream is across the street, too, featuring a selection of signature sundaes.
No matter your tastes, you'll find something great at Aunt Carrie's.
A Must-Visit in Narragansett
Whether you're looking to buy a home in Narragansett or elsewhere in South County, Aunt Carrie's is an institution that you'll have to check out. Even if you aren't a seafood lover, you'll find something to eat there, and its history alone makes it worth seeing for yourself.
There's no way that Ulysses and Carrie Cooper could have known that their small business would remain in operation 100 years later, but we, for one, are glad that it has survived the test of time.