Worcester now is not the same city that I moved to back then. Let’s just look at spring and summer of 2012.
There was the stART on the Street art festival along funky Green Street in the Canal District. Thank you Tina Zlody and her stART on the Street crew. The next week, two events attracted people came from across the country and around world to Worcester. Paulie Collyer put on Paulie’s NOLA Jazz and Blues Festival, a three-day extravaganza of music, fun and food that attracted a packed crowd. Many more attendees were from outside of Worcester than there were Worcesterites.
Not taking a backseat to any event, Alec Lopez of The Dive Bar, Armsby Abbey and a soon-to-come-artisan bakery), along with world-famous beer importer Will Shelton of Shelton Brothers, attracted brew masters and micro brewers from all over the world to Worcester. What an event and crowd! And just like after stART on the Street, there was no better place to enjoy it than on the patio behind The Dive Bar, with Duncan Arsenault leading the band.
A week earlier, there was Blue Man Group at the beautifully and authentically restored, Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. For the Hanover Theatre’s ongoing success in bringing national tours and community support to Worcester, thank you to project developers Ed Madaus and Paul Demoga with an assist from David Forsberg, Craig Blais and the rest of the Worcester Business Development Corp.
That same Thursday evening, 150 or so people ventured to nearby Worcester Common to hear a rock-and-roll band and then watch an outdoor movie. Thank you to Jim McKeag and Eric Kuczarsk of Worcester Film Works.
The weekend after, the Worcester Asian Festival took place at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, featuring dancers from Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, India, Laotia, Japan, Korea, China, Nepal, Thailand and Bhutan. Thank you to Sahdev Passey, Thuha Le, Oanh Nguyen and the rest of the folks at the Southeast Asian Coalition.
I also attended the African-American Juneteenth celebration at Institute Park. thank you to organizers Parlee Jones of Abby’s House and Keesha LaTulippe of the Henry Lee Willis Center as well as to WPI for the park enhancements. And I went to Byblos Restaurant & Lounge. Thank you to Salim Lahoud for a soul experience inside the beautifully restored Union Station, (Also at Salim’s place every third Thursday is Poetry Cove, hosted by Efua Dufu).
Thank you to Allen Fletcher of the now-defunct Union Station Alliance, Congressman Jim McGovern and the Worcester Redevelopment Authority for both the Union Station renovation and the new, fantastic streetscape enhancements in the Canal District. Thanks also go to Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Jim McGovern (again) as well as to John Giangregorio, Seth Derderian and Allison Alaimo of the Canal District Alliance for the District’s vibrant spirit. Recently, New Orleans-style food came to the Canal District, when Gumbo opened on Water Street. Check out the backroom cave, if you’re suffering from heat or light exhaustion.
The next weekend, I went to a new, stylish Asian restaurant, 7 Nana on Shrewsbury Street. Thank you to owners John Batista and Rob Franco for restoring the former Buick dealership and adjacent building, across Shrewsbury Street from the 111 Chophouseand Via Italian TableIA A big thank you to owners Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist for those two restaurants plus Tthe Sole Proprietor, their one other restaurant on Highland Street. The Sole is so good that it caused Legal Seafood to flee the city because it couldn’t compete with the Ahlquist’ delicious food.
Good place for a social
I started this voyage out and about town from where I live at Bancroft Commons on Franklin Street. Thank you to John McGrail and the rest of the team at the Mayo Group,which developed that project. Thank you as well to the Mayo Group and Paul Morano and Timothy McGourthy of the City of Worcester for developing the nearby Portland Street Lofts. I also considered living in the Canal Lofts, a restored building on Water Street that used to house Chevalier Furniture. Thanks also go to Winn Companies for developing that project.
After eating Middle Eastern food at the recently upgraded Bay State Bakery on Water Street – thank you to owner Ayman Jaber – I went to Third Thursday at the Worcester Art Museum on Salisbury Street – thank you to WAM’s Brigit Straehle. There, I heard Jubilee Gardens, who play once a month at Sahara Restaurant on Highland Street. Thank you to Sahara owner Farid Aoude for a good place to have a social life for those who are no longer in their 20s but too young to feel comfortable with an older crowd often found at Maxwell Silverman’s Toolhouse at Lincoln Square.
Thank you to owner Gus Giordano for both Maxwell Silverman’s and Luciano’s Restaurant in Union Station. Thanks to the John family for the mixed-aged crowd at The Boynton Restaurant & Spirits on Highland Street. And thanks to Irish immigrants Brendon and Claire O’Connor, who so long ago brought us Worcester’s other great pub, O’Connors Restaurant & Barand on West Boylston Street, that we forget they weren’t born and raised in Worcester.
You can also hear Worcester’s original poetry slam at WCUW 91.3 FM on Main Street, near Clark University, thanks to General Manager Troy Tyree and the WCUW Board of Directors. And thanks to co-host Alex Charalambides for the Dirty Gerund poetry slam at Ralph’s Rock Diner.
And thank you to Bill and Suey MacMillian for beginning the Worcester Poetry Slam Team. Thanks also go to Bill for all the cool events, from fencing to riding replicas of medieval horses, at the Higgins Armory Museum on Barber Avenue.
If you like summer Shakespeare, you’d now need to travel only a few miles south of Worcester. Mel Cobb (a.k.a. Othello) has moved his Worcester Shakespeare Company from Worcester’s own Green Hill Park to the Mill at Whitinsville in Northbridge.
Becoming a pretty good place
During the winter months in Worcester, there are plenty of ways to cure yourself of cabin fever. Clark University on Main Street, the College of the Holy Cross on College Hill, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Worcester Economic Cluball bring great speakers to our city.
Lastly, I‘m now going to eat at Sweet T Southern Kitchen on Blackstone River Road, in the newly restored Quinsigamond Village area. It’s located behind the new Walmart on Tobias Boland Way, named after Irish pioneer Tobias Boland.
Worcester is becoming a pretty good place to live, work, play and raise a family. One more large step, and we’ll become a great place to raise an adult, not just a child.
Every Friday at noon during the summer of 2012, hundreds of people gathered on Worcester Common, behind City Hall, for the Out to Lunch Summer Concert Series.
Here are great links, to find out what’s going on in and around Worcester:
- InCity Times (thanks to Publisher Rosalie Tirella)
- Pulse Magazine (thanks to Publisher Paul Giorgio)
- Social Web (thanks to Developer Troy Thompson)
- Telegram & Gazette (thanks to Publisher Bruce Gaultney)
- Vocero Hispano (thanks to Publisher Sergio Rivera)
- Worcester Cultural Coalition (thanks yet again to Chief Cultural Officer Erin Williams)
- Worcester Business Journal (thanks to Publisher Peter Stanton)
- Worcester Magazine (thanks to Publisher Kathy Real)