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Atmospheres & Appetites: The Railers Sports Tavern

Railer's Sports Tavern in Worcester, MA

The hometown feel is building a distinct atmosphere at Railers Sports Tavern. 

There is an almost immediate sense of comfort upon entering Railers Sports Tavern, the newest addition to the Niche Hospitality group. On a cold and icy afternoon, I was able to sit down with Mike Covino, co-owner, and chat about what makes this traditional sports bar anything but traditional.

Several things drive the atmosphere at “the tavern.” But, what you may not know, is that this building was once two separate structures joined by an alleyway. When the masterminds, Cliff Rucker and Mike Covino came together for this venture, they had a few obstacles in their way, but they knew it would be worth it.  During the initial vision, they knew they would have to connect the two buildings that once stood here and quite literally build up the walls between them. You’ll notice while dining that Railers Sports Tavern is a large space, but almost all of it is horizontal space rather than depth.  The majority of sports bars possess depth to house pool tables, TV’s, and overall space for larger groups.  At the Railers Tavern, the long and skinny floorplan keeps things intimate.

With a goal to create the ultimate viewing experience from every seat in the house, it’s no surprise that everywhere your eyes wander about there is a TV within a comfortable site. The vision came naturally to Covino; he was excited to work on a project so different than his other restaurants.

Everybody wants to root for the home team, and there’s nothing quite like a big win – that’s why creating an atmosphere that paid testament to the Railers was so imperative to Covino.  In my opinion, the biggest score that has contributed to the environment here is the memorabilia. Sure, nearly every sports bar has some. But, not every sports bar can claim that each piece has been hand-picked, purposely placed, and done so with Worcester in mind. The memorabilia you see placed around has come from a mixture of backgrounds – some pieces were already among the owners’ possessions, some of them were specific pieces sought out for purchase, and some pieces were donated based upon the teams. The Worcester Railers HC, the Bravehearts, the Celtics, the Patriots, and the Bruins are all represented, as is the team that represents our country. The piece that stands out to Covino the most is the famous “Miracle” photo that hangs in the front of the Tavern depicting the 1980 gold medal winning USA Men’s Ice Hockey team. When Covino sees that photo, he can recall being 10 years old,  and the feelings it evoked as a young hockey player when the 1980 team won. Another familiar face includes Ted Williams shown at Fitton Field in Worcester. All the photos on the walls were curated organically to create a combination that could resonate with nearly every type of sports fan.

Aside from the elevated traditional sports bar food, Covino wanted to take the atmosphere in a more sophisticated direction than what might normally be associated with a sports bar. By putting the restaurant aspect of it first, and then focusing on the bar second, Niche Hospitality was able to hold the environment to the same standards at which they set their other establishments.

Whether you are a die-hard sports fan, on a first date, visiting with family or just catching up with the gang – the Tavern is the comfortable and unpretentious sports bar that Worcester had no idea it was missing.