Thayer Street in Providence, Rhode Island is a popular destination for students of the area's nearby schools of Brown University, Moses Brown School, Wheeler School, RISD, Providence College, Johnson & Wales University, and Rhode Island College.
Similar to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey, and Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, Thayer Street hosts independent shops and restaurants that serve as a communal center for students and locals. While Harvard Square has long been controlled by chain restaurants and stores, many businesses on Thayer remain independent, such as Avon Cinema, Blue State Coffee, Rockstar Body Piercing, East Side Pockets, and NAVA- New And Vintage Apparel with certain notable exceptions such as Johnny Rockets, Starbucks, Au Bon Pain, Urban Outfitters, Chipotle, and CVS Pharmacy. Up until late 2004, The Gap also had a location on Thayer Street, though it has subsequently closed. The east-coast sportswear retailer City Sports has since taken over its spot.
Over the last several years, there has been a general increase in the proportion of Thayer Street businesses that serve food. Neighborhood residents and some other community members argue that landlords should try to lease space to retail stores instead of new restaurants. This preference is due in part to the limited parking currently available on College Hill. City zoning regulations require far fewer off-street parking spaces for retail businesses than for restaurants. Neighbors also complain of a noise late at night and the College Hill Neighborhood Association, an organization representing College Hill residents, generally fights against applications for liquor licenses on Thayer Street.
- -. Retrieved 2008-02-11. "Some merchants said they fear the street is becoming less unique. Sachdev supports the renovations, but he expressed concerns that the street is "becoming more and more food, more and more restaurants," a trend that does not represent the "best use of the street.".