SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. – It’s been a long time coming, but a lifelong dream of former “Bachelor” reality show franchise contestant Jared Haibon came to fruition Saturday with the grand opening of Audrey’s, billed as a coffee house by day, wine bar by night.
A steady stream of customers filled the bright, open space adorned with well-placed Christmas decorations: An ornament-filled tree here, a poinsettia plant there, and two fireplaces creating a warm, welcoming environment. And of course the requisite nods to “The Bachelor” franchise throughout, including a rose emblem as a substitute for an apostrophe in the cafe’s name.
Some customers sipped on gourmet, sustainably sourced coffee, while others nibbled on fruits, nuts, olives, crackers, and other items on custom-made charcuterie boards.
”I’m not going to lie: I came here because it’s Ashley and Jared and I wanted to meet them, but I will come again because this place is awesome,” said Jenna Felger, 22, a retail manager from Pawtucket. “It has such a cozy, homey feel to it – and this pumpkin spice muffin and chai latte are so good.”
Felger wasn’t the only one hoping to catch a glimpse of – and maybe even get a picture with – Haibon and his wife, Ashely Iaconetti, who met on on the set of ABC’s “Bachelor in Paradise” in 2015 and married four years later.
”I was totally fan-girling when I met them earlier in the week during their soft opening,” said Lisa Horovitz, 54, a worker’s compensation adjuster from Cranston. “I wanted to come back with my friends today so they could see this place and meet them, too. They’re so nice.”
”I love love – I read romance novels, watch Hallmark Channel movies … and theirs is such a great love story,” added Horovitz, a mother of two adult sons.
Allison Devaney, 24, who lives in Stamford, Conn., attended the grand opening with two friends. In addition to wanting to support the business, Devaney said she was hoping to tell Haibon and Iaconetti how much she “enjoyed watching their relationship develop and how open and real they were.”
”I think a lot of people can relate to the ups and downs of their relationship,” said Devaney, a public relations specialist in the financial field. “Their love story … it gives people hope.”
Haibon, 33, and Iaconetti, also 33, had hoped to open Audrey’s in September, but setbacks with shipments, licensing, “and wanting to make sure everything was ready on all fronts,” created delays, Haibon said.
”Jared was a little over ambitious” with the projected opening date, said Iaconetti, who prepared charcuterie boards Saturday afternoon as Haibon did everything from food and drink prep to taking customers’ orders.
While the couple, who are expecting their first child in February – and are closing on their first home (in West Greenwich) next week – are thrilled with the excitement surrounding the opening of Audrey’s, they are, as Iaconetti said, “looking forward to things settling down and being more streamlined.”
”We’re a bit overwhelmed, but so happy with the feedback we’ve gotten from everyone,” she said. “I give Jared a lot of credit. He’s worked so hard making this happen and he has hired some great people – mostly college students” from nearby University of Rhode Island.
Business owners in the South County Commons shopping and dining complex said they are happy to have Audrey’s in the neighborhood.
”It definitely brings in traffic during the day for coffee and later for drinks,” said Jim Fusaro, owner of Flatfish Cottage gift shop. “It’s good for everyone, and because we’re so close to them, it’s great for us.”