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‘Hocus Pocus 2′ filming gives Federal Hill businesses a boost

Film crews worked to transform Providence’s Little Italy neighborhood into Salem, Mass.

Alexandra Aubin, an employee at Roma on Atwells Avenue, served hot chocolate to a customer.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

PROVIDENCE — While Hollywood film crews were directing extras, dressing Bette Midler stunt doubles, and stretching yellow caution tape around a sprawling section of Atwells Avenue this past weekend, Italian markets and restaurants on the edge of the set in Federal Hill saw a carousel of customers.

Adriana Veader was behind the counter at Tony’s Colonial, a salumeria her grandparents have owned since 1969, where rows of fine cheeses and meats, herb-infused olive oils, pasta, and specialty packaged foods from Italy line the shelves. A part-time worker while earning her master’s in Boston, she said she hadn’t seen the store this busy in months.


“I’m just really hoping that while people are traveling here to get a glimpse of the movie, they discover us and become loyal customers,” she said as she helped her family members pour clear plastic cups with wine and froth milk for cappuccinos and pass them around to customers. “People here know who we are. But maybe it will help us reintroduce ourselves to the next generation of customers.”

Spectators hoping to catch a glimpse of some actors watched film crews set up a scene.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
A banner highlighting a fictional Halloween event hung from posts along Atwell Avenue.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Directly outside, leagues of people bundled in down-feather jackets, knitted hats, and gloves were huddled with their phones out, waiting to catch a glimpse — and snap a picture — of one of the Sanderson sisters.

“Hocus Pocus 2″ began filming on Federal Hill Friday afternoon and ended around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, which marked the fourth location in Rhode Island where the Disney film was shot. Other locations include Washington Square in Newport, LaSalle Academy in Providence, and Chase Farm in Lincoln, where a colonial-era town was built by crew members.

Film crews had spent each night last week leading up to Friday working to prepare the scenes in Providence’s Little Italy neighborhood to transform it into Salem, Mass.

One storefront was disguised as the Odd Meter Coffee Company and the parking lot at Roma Ristorante became a Halloween village with stacks of hay and inflatable pumpkin tents.


A stunt double for Kathy Najimy's character — Mary Sanderson — got some last-minute adjustments on her costume.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy look-alikes were decked in floor-length green, purple, and red dresses and cloaks before being harnessed to a cable apparatus for aerial stunts over the Walgreens on Atwells Avenue. They held brooms and Swiffers.

At the same time, Alexandra Aubin, who has worked at Roma since 2014, was busy making Italian coffees and hot chocolates and taking orders for pizza pies. Some customers took their steaming boxes filled with cheesy pizza from Roma back to the crowd, feeding the lot as they waited for a glimpse of the next scene.

“It’s been busy all night,” Aubin said. “And we’re going to take full advantage of it and stay open later than usual.”

A number of businesses that were blocked by the filming were offered buyouts for undisclosed amounts, which depended on their size and hours of operation, among other details, one owner told the Globe. Several others, who could continue to operate during filming, received an inconvenience fee.

A customer left Roma, an Italian coffee and pastry shop located in the filming area of "Hocus Pocus 2."MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Across the street, while a mob of actors moved in sync down the avenue to a song, Harry’s Burger Bar had a full house. Guests sitting at tables by each of the windows watched hanging cameras overhead and crew members call for yet another take.

Outside of Tavolo, a wine bar and Tuscan grille, manager Bill Pinelli slung his jacket over his shoulders and greeted guests as they were on their way in, just in time for their musician of the night to begin their set.


“Some nights have been slower than others lately. But this is what it’s all about here. Get people on Atwells again,” he said. “Get them excited to be here, and remind them why they always come back.”

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.