The Sakonnet River Company was set up to solve the greatest minor irritation known to humankind: the anxiety of having to choose between sipping a drink or nibbling hors d'oeuvres at a party. With only two hands -- and no tables, shelves, or pianos in sight (which is the case at most parties) -- you can never eat and drink at the same time. And yet this anxiety is nowhere near as dreadful as the heartbreak the hosts feel as they witness whole tables of cherished delicacies carted off to the dumpsters after their guests leave for home--all starving or dry as a whistle.
The Sakonnet River Company was established as a Rhode Island corporation in 2018, by Bob Barrow and Charles Tansey, who have been neighbors in Bristol off and on since the 1980s.
Charles: “I was in banking and then government. So I was deployed to many cocktail parties. Also gallery openings, theatre intermissions, and ball games. There was an astonishing need for this kind of tray. What put me over the top on this was a meet-and-greet event on a schooner in Newport. You had to hold onto the plate and the glass at the same time, because if you put them down, they would slide and tip over. It was fine, as long as you didn't try to eat and drink, or shake hands, grab a napkin--or hold onto the gunwales.”
Bob: “When my wife and I were in Tuscany we had seen this sort of painter’s palette for holding drinks and hors d’ oeuvres. Seemed everybody was using them. All different shapes, weights and sizes. We wanted one--but we wanted one that was light--and would look good at a party.”
Charles: "Bob had sold his company, which made Windsor chairs for universities, but he'd kept his workshop at the factory. Although my career was in finance, I'd had training in design in college. So we joined forces to address this raging worldwide nuisance."
Bob: "We've spent a couple of years trying different materials and experimenting with the process. We've settled on solid wood and carbon fiber. We've got the product and the production quality where it needs to be now, so we're making the Wine Palettes available to the market."
Charles: “We love the niche and the challenge. How to create a personal cocktail tray that is light enough, and sufficiently elegant to fit in well at a wedding, a gallery opening, a gala, or a diplomatic affair. And there's also the challenge of how you can make the same tray suitable for coffee, tea, papaya juice, hiking, biking, skiing and picnics."
Bob: "We have a patent pending on the next generation of Wine Trays. Crucial party accessories come after that."
Charles: "We're done with hors d'oeuvre deprivation. We just won't let great parties go to waste anymore."
Bob: "Our business approach is simple: if the product helps people enjoy themselves more, it will sell itself.”