The Sakonnet River Company was set up on a Dare.
"We were at a cocktail party trying to come up with a worldwide problem that was small enough for us to solve. We determined that the world's greatest minor problem was eating and drinking at cocktail parties."
The Dare: "Can you design a light, elegant and chic way to carry a drink and hors d'oeuvres - that is also practical?"
It was in an effort to meet this challenge that The Sakonnet River Company was established in 2018. It was established as a Rhode Island corporation 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. So you could say that I'm a professional party guest. There was an astonishing need for this kind of tray throughout my career. What put me over the top, though, 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. Ouch. How many great hors d'oeuvres have I had to leave on the tables, alone and abandoned, over the decades? I'm guessing several acres. ”
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 a tray like that - but we wanted one that was light - and would look good at a party.”
Charles: "Bob's painter's palette was the game-changer. Most cocktail trays can only be held for 20 or 30 minutes. That's because you hold them with your thumb. Plus, if they hold a glass, it's usually placed at opposite end of the tray - which makes it feel heavier. But an artist can hold a paint palette all day - and look good doing it. We took on the Dare."
Bob: "We spent a couple of years trying different materials and experimenting with the process. We settled on solid wood and carbon fiber."
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."
Bob: "We got the product and the production quality where it needed to be by 2020, but then COVID pretty much closed down the party space. We began selling in earnest in late 2021."
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 then, also, how to make the same tray suitable for coffee, tea, papaya juice, hiking, biking, skiing and picnics."
Bob: "We launched the GALA trays in February 2022, and we have the designs for a champagne and caviar tray, an elevated couples tray and a waiters wine tray on the drawing boards. We have a design patent pending on the Wine Trays."
Charles: "So, I'm done with hors d'oeuvre deprivation. I just won't let great parties go to waste anymore. My wife and I take the trays to every party we attend. To help the hosts and hostesses make their parties better."
Bob: "Our business approach is simple: if the product helps people enjoy themselves more, it will sell itself.”
We are on a mission to make parties better.
Studio 216, 30 Cutler Street, Warren, Rhode Island 02885, United States
10:00 am – 04:00 pm
We're pleased to show our customers the shop and the products.