As Cranston’s Patti Bacon and Johnston’s Jackie Paquin tell it, their brother, Billy Landry, had a larger than life personality. He loved his family, was proud of owning PB&J’s Restaurant and – on many occasions – captivated the dining room with his stories. He would do anything for anyone.
“We could go on forever,” wrote Patti and Jackie in an email interview when asked to describe what their brother was like.
Billy, who loved his customers like family, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in January and passed away Feb. 12 at age 55. Because of his sudden passing, Patti and Jackie wanted to do something in his honor.
“One of our customers mentioned a scholarship, so we ran with it,” the siblings said.
The sisters announced that they would like to support those with aspirations like Billy’s by creating a scholarship at Johnson and Wales University. The Billy Landry Memorial Endowed Scholarship will provide financial aid to those pursuing a degree in culinary arts through the College of Food Innovation & Technology. To raise funds for the scholarship, PB&J’s Restaurant will hold a Bud Lights event on Aug. 20 at its Warwick location.
Saturday’s event will include live music all day by Abby Kilday, Phenix Ave and Mark Flynn on the restaurant’s outdoor patio area. Additionally, PB&J’s Restaurant will sell Bud Lights – Billy’s favorite beer. With each beer sold, a $1 donation will go toward the scholarship. The sisters said area businesses have donated gift cards, customers have donated baskets and vendors have also been generous as well. The restaurant will raffle off these items and have a 50/50 raffle.
Patti and Jackie said JWU was chosen because of Billy’s love for cooking, which he dabbled in on and off throughout his life. The siblings’ goal is to raise $50,000 since that is the amount needed to have a perpetual scholarship; JWU will handle the details of disbursement. They said the restaurant will continue holding events until it reaches its goal.
Billy, Patti and Jackie grew up in Woonsocket, and the idea for starting a restaurant began when the siblings’ mother was diagnosed with cancer. When their mom went to live with Billy and his wife in Woonsocket, every Sunday the whole family would get together for dinner. At the time, Billy had been laid off from his job and he, Patti and Jackie started talking about opening their own restaurant. In September 2019, PB&J’s Restaurant opened on West Shore Road. Six months later, the pandemic hit.
“Being new owners of a restaurant at this time we had to think outside the box,” the sisters said.
The three siblings took family recipes and began making chicken, beef, turkey pot pies and – after their French heritage – French meat pies from their grandmother’s recipe. Luckily, their restaurant had a drive-thru window, which they utilized while the dining room was closed to the public. As the weather improved, they created outside dining.
Patti, 58, worked the front of the house, dining area and office management, Billy was the back of the house, Chef and Jackie, 54, was the “voice of reason” and helped wherever needed.
After a successful run during the pandemic, the three opened their Cranston location in 2021 – today they have a staff of 20. As for how the restaurant got its name, it’s pretty clever; the business is actually named after the three siblings, in birth order.
“We did not realize this until we needed to come up with a name for the restaurant and that is how P(Patti), B(Billy) & J(Jackie) PB&J’s came about,” said the sisters.
PB&J’s Restaurants are located at 2298 West Shore Road, Warwick, and 877 Dyer Ave., Cranston. The Bud Lights for Billy event will take place at the West Shore Road location Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about Saturday’s event, visit pbandjsri.com/budlightsforbilly. Donations to the scholarship fund can also be made at giving.jwu.edu/donate/billy-landry-scholarship?fbclid=IwAR2SZ7Q0z-Ttpi1K-4LNj1eDl5s5x-PqB1aftcJsYapuRTanUR_hln_DLhs.