Visit Groundswell in Tiverton, Rhode Island

March 2, 2022

Groundswell turns Tiverton, Rhode Island, into a shopping and eating destination.

Text by Lisa H. Speidel    Photography by Maaike Bernstrom

There’s a natural order to the way things are done around here. First, you grab an oat milk latte and an almond croissant in the Parisian-inspired Groundswell Cafe + Bakery. Then, happily fortified, you venture across the street to Groundswell Garden + Home, ready to browse. Next, it’s off to Groundswell Table + Provisions.

“As a compound, this idea works,” says co-owner David Fierabend of the bustling cafe and burgeoning shopping destination he runs with his husband, John McDowell, in Rhode Island’s historic Tiverton Four Corners. The concept came to fruition when a friend called in 2019  to say the Provender—a gourmet sandwich shop housed in a character-filled nineteenth-century building—was for sale. Fierabend, whose chain of knitwear stores back in the eighties boasted a Newport location, had always loved the area and, of course, had enjoyed lunch at the landmark cafe.

A landscape architect by trade, Fierabend is principal of Groundswell Design Group, an urban planning and design firm in Philadelphia. Hospitality projects factor heavily into the group’s portfolio, so taking the leap to open a cafe was a natural evolution. Fierabend and McDowell also bought two neighboring historic buildings, the Arnold Smith House across the street (Garden + Home) and the Wilcox-Davol House (Table + Provisions) on the north side of the cafe.

Garden + Home taps into Fierabend’s roots as a landscape architect. “All the product in that shop nods back to something in landscape and nature,” he says. The beautifully curated store brims with everything from candles, bath salts, and lotions to bespoke garden tools, terrariums, and planters. There’s proprietary pottery
from Farmhouse, colorful Turkish glassware, handsome coffee table books, and vintage European herbariums. The vibe is English countryside, and it spills outside. In warmer months raised beds overflow with wildflowers and herbs.

Creating an authentic feel is important to Fierabend. “I want people to spend a lot of time in the store,” he says. The same goes for Table + Provisions, which has a streamlined Scandinavian aesthetic and stocks jams and jellies, exotic salts, and hot sauces, not to mention hostess gifts galore.

The grounds, too, beckon. A brick patio is dotted with bistro tables and umbrellas, and Adirondack chairs flank firepits. Sit and stay awhile, but before you go, grab a baguette to accompany tonight’s dinner and a loaf of banana bread for the morning. “It’s all about the experience,” reminds Fierabend. “You can’t buy an experience online.”

Groundswell, Tiverton Four Corners, R.I., groundswellcafegarden.com