Jessica Wood, Fire and Water Restaurant Group


Jessica Wood, Fire and Water Restaurant Group

For the last 12 years, Jessica Wood has been a small business owner.  As one of the founders of Fire and Water Restaurant Group, Wood owns Caliente Mexican Grill, The Burger Shack, UMelt, and WildWood Catering, and she has always made a point of doing business in Rhode Island to help other Rhode Island business owners to succeed.

Fire and Water Restaurant Group was founded in 2003 and is based on one simple strategy:  exciting and dynamic food.  Since 2003, Wood’s company has opened six quick service locations that all provide simple, good food at a reasonable cost.  Wood has helped to create hundreds of jobs in a state that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and her businesses are continuing to grow to supply more jobs for Rhode Islanders.  “Our end goal is to create leaders.  Our company culture is one of our top priorities and it begins with the right hire.  This has allowed us to grow, as we have opened two Grilled Cheese Stores in the last year and the latest was on Weybosset Street in Downtown Providence,” said Wood.

In order to keep her businesses current, Wood is constantly coming up with new restaurant concepts based on what she sees as a need in the market.  The menus may change frequently at her restaurants, but Wood always keeps one component consistent in the recipes:  the source of the food.  Wood believes in shopping local to keep other businesses successful, so she has maintained strong relationships with local farmers who provide her restaurants and catering company with fresh, sustainable products.

Wood may not be a classically trained chef, but she does take pride in her “street chef” ability and knowledge.  In order to refine her skills, she has enrolled in several continuing education programs at Johnson & Wales University.  She has also taken business and management classes to heighten all of her strengths as a manager and a leader.  Wood says her biggest challenge is trying to balance her family life and business life, especially since her husband is her business partner; however, her family is also her biggest motivator.  “My boys are my driving force.  Everything I do down to the grilled cheese I make, or the paycheck I sign, is for my boys.  I wish nothing more than to secure their future,” said Wood.

Besides shopping local, Fire and Water Restaurant Group also gives back to the community by raising money for many charitable causes.  Over the past three years, Wood has raised money in her restaurants to help feed local families in need during the holidays.  Also, each of her stores has done numerous fundraisers in an effort to fill the Johnnycake Center food pantry.  Wildwood Catering has also donated food, services and time to the Junior League of Rhode Island’s partnerships:  The Autism Project in Johnston, Aging Out of Foster Care in Rhode Island, and The Amos House Child Reunification Project in Providence.  Fire and Water Restaurant Group has also donated proceeds to the Matty Fund and they are helping to facilitate a fundraiser for Save the Bay.

Every day, Wood continues to work on building small business in Rhode Island. “Being a small business owner is hard on its best day, near impossible on its worst, but I would not have it any other way,” said Wood.  “There is a powerful community of young small business owners in Rhode Island who are truly doing innovative things and because we all support each other, we are all starting to thrive. I encourage the community as a whole to support small business in Rhode Island.”

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