King Kong-sized caffeine delivery system!

The Big Coffee Mug, June 2013.
The Big Coffee Mug (June 3, 2013).

1065 Eddie Dowling Highway, (Route 146), North Smithfield
(401) 338-xxxx

This huge travel-style coffee mug, perhaps large enough for two to three people to enjoy a hot java bath at the same time, serves as the sign for a small drive-up establishment. The sign is also a fountain, spewing clear water from the spout on its lid (when it's working). We think the water should be colored a rich, dark brown so that potential customers won't be turned off by the thought of a weak brew. A bit of steam to add verisimilitude wouldn't hurt either.

The cup currently promotes The Icebox, a summertime stand owned and operated by RISD student Brianna O'Keefe. She opened the place in August 2013, serving Richie's Super Premium Italian Ice to help finance her college education. The Icebox re-opened for the summer in early May 2013 and Brianna added ice cream to the line-up soon after. Next up: milk shakes! Then, possibly, coffee, to capitalize on the Big Coffee Mug juju.

Icebox menu board, 2013.
The Icebox's menu board. (June 3, 2013).

As we hinted above, the fountain is not working as of this writing (June 2013). Brianna would like to have it fixed, but that may prove to be difficult, as it seems the mug was built around the pump. Brianna has installed a fog machine on top of the mug, and she uses it occasionally to draw the interest of passing motorists (didn't we just say that would be a good idea?). If anyone knows of a small, talented monkey-mechanic that can go down the spout and perform the necessary pump repairs, please contact Brianna at

Coffee and Cream, fountain working, 2005.
Coffee and Cream in 2005, when the fountain was working. (August 5, 2005).

Richie's Italian Ice, by the way, in case you've not tried it, is very different from what you get at Rhode Island's many frozen lemonade places. It's much smoother, like a sorbet, or an icy sherbet (but with no dairy). And it comes in a wide variety of flavors, like Banana, Blue Raspberry, Bubble Gum, Coconut Cream, Cotton Candy, Mango, Orange Creamsicle, Pina Colada, and Watermelon. You can even mix and match flavors as you please for a small added cost.

The landmark mug hath been running over since at least 1991. Before The Icebox, it was the sign for Coffee and Cream, a stand serving donuts, muffins, sandwiches, and, go figure, coffee. Coffee and Cream closed in 2009, a victim, apparently, of competition from a new Dunkin Donuts location just down the road.

Facebook post by The Icebox, 2014.

Update, January 15, 2014: The Ice Box announced it was closed, apparently for good, via Facebook message on the 15th. No reason was given.

Update, May 17, 2014: The Big Coffee Mug was either demolished or carted away around this date. Everything that once stood on the lot is gone, down to bare earth. We have no further information at this time.

Former site of the Big Coffee Mug, 2014.
Former site of the Big Coffee Mug (May 18, 2014).

Other Big Things in Rhode Island

  • Big Blue Bug
  • Big Handtruck
  • Big Ice Cream Cone, Lakewood Ice Cream, 140-152 Chambly Avenue, Warwick
  • Big Milk Can
  • Big Paint Can, True Value Hardware, Route 44, Greenville, Smithfield
  • Big Roosters
  • Big Rosary Beads, Jesus Savior Church, 509 Broadway, Newport

Directions: From Route 295 take exit 9 to Route 146 north (toward Woonsocket); go 1.8 miles; you'll pass the former site of the Big Coffee Mug on the left, on the other side of the divided highway; get in the left lane and take a U-turn at Sayles Hill Road; return south on Route 146 about 275 feet to the former site of the Big Coffee Mug on the right.

Hours: The Icebox was open 11am-9pm daily during the summer.

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