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The 18 Most Popular Stories of 2018 for Mass Foodies

As Contributing Editor at Mass Foodies, I always find it intriguing to look back at the posts that gained the most traction with our readers over the course of the year. I took the liberty of breaking down the numbers to find out which stories engaged Mass Foodies’ readers above all others during 2018. One thing was clear; you like to read about openings, you love to read about closings, and you know how to pay proper tribute when it is due.

I was surprised to find that the 2018 openings of simjang and North Main Provisions did not make bigger media imprints on our site. In my professional opinion, these two establishments will have long lasting implications for Worcester’s food landscape. The closing of decade-long downtown staple The Citizen Wine Bar yielded fewer clicks than I predicted, eclipsed by the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps, this was thoughtful timing on behalf of Niche Hospitality President and CEO Michael Covino.

Mass Foodies subsists on the underlying principle that the foundation for strong restaurants is an adaptive and collaborative culinary community. It is comforting to find that thousands upon thousands of readers continue to share our vision year in and year out. Happy New Years from the Mass Foodies team.

Here are our 18 most popular stories from 2018:

1. Worcester Loses a Legend in Ed Hyder:

Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace faced the saddening blow of Ed Hyder’s passing on February 5th. This Pleasant Street landmark continues to thrive as a true family business, invigorated by the dedication of the Hyder children. Ed Hyder is remembered in our neighborhoods, kitchens, and hearts.

Kummerspeck on Water Street in Worcester, MA
Kummerspeck on Water Street in Worcester, MA

2. Kummerspeck Closes:

On Sunday, October 28th, Kummerspeck folded after 15 months in business on Water Street. Chef-owners Matt Mahoney and Rachel Coit sat down with Mass Foodies for an unfiltered look at what lead to the closure.

3. Seven New Restaurants Anticipated to Open Within a Half Mile in 2018:

We started the year with seven new restaurants on the horizon including Maddi’s Cookery & Taphouse, 110 Grill, Protein House, STIX Noodle Bar, Revolution Pie + Pint, Craft Table and Bar, and Brew Beer Garden. (You can add Fuel America to that list as well.) We should note that although Protein House, Revolution Pie + Pint, and Craft Table and Bar have installed new and prominent signage downtown, they have yet to open their doors. And, what’s going on with Josephine’s anyways?


Breaking ground on May 7th, the Kelley Square Market will embrace community. Pictured are the site plans for the project.
Breaking ground on May 7th, the Kelley Square Market will embrace community. Pictured are the site plans for the project.

4. Kelley Square Market Breaks Ground:

Developer Allen Fletcher turned heads when he broke ground on May 7th for his Kelley Square Market, which will house 30-40 vendors along with a sit down eatery. There was a lot of chatter about construction’s impact on parking, lest we remind you that Fletcher’s lot had been made available out by his sheer good will in the past. Did we ever bother to send him a thank you card?

Lock 50, in Worcester, offer igloos to extend patio dining throughout winter.
Lock 50, in Worcester, offer igloos to extend patio dining throughout winter.

5. Lock 50 Launches a Year-Round Patio:

Lock 50 found a way to extend patio season with the addition of luminescent heated igloos. Our readers relished the photos of the transparent orbs, aglow on Water Street.

6. Blue Shades Finds Specialty Success:

Worcester got a taste for authentic Belgian Liege waffles with the growing popularity of Blue Shades on Park Ave, an establishment that zeroes in on the mastery of a single specialty cuisine. This burst of interest proved that our readers are interested in supporting specialty and niche shops with a food truck model. (I’ve said on many occasions that I believe some of the best food in the city comes out of the MamaRoux food trailer parked behind The Dive Bar.)

7. The First Look at 110 Grill:

Mass Foodies went live from 110 Grill prior to their May 22nd opening in a space adjacent to the AC Hotel. Viewers got a preview of the traditional interior built to accommodate large groups along with the charming outdoor fire pits. In recent months, the restaurant has served as a frequent filming location for Liam Neeson’s latest flick, “Honest Thief.”

8. Wildwood Mushrooms Loses Its Entire Crop to a Fire, Plans to Rebuild:

We watched Brad Allain launch his Sutton mushroom farm, Wildwood Mushrooms, with great success in February and then suffer complete loss of his entire inventory as a result of a fire on October 13th.

9. “Restaurant Row” Loses Three Restaurants in One Month:

Red Lantern completed its last dinner service on December 9th at 235 Shrewsbury Street. One block away, neighboring restaurant, British Beer Company at 225 Shrewsbury Street also closed up shop to make room for the future home of Mexicali Mexican Grill. A week later, 7 Nana at 60 Shrewsbury Street also closed permanently.

10. Worcester Pickle Pulls Out:

Worcester’s Regal Pickle Factory sold in January. Regal Pickles were favored by many area chefs; we’ll all miss the sweet smell of pickles on Mason Street.

11. Maddi’s Opens in the Canal District Under the Direction of Christopher O’Harra:

Mass Foodies attended the grand opening of Maddi’s Cookery and Taphouse on June 18th. Chef Christopher O’Harra, formerly of Flying Rhino, brings two decades of experience in Worcester’s dining scene to the newest Water Street watering hole. Owner Adam Hicks also runs Depot Street Tavern in nearby Milford.

12. The First Look at Buck’s:

In April, Mass Foodies got a first look at Buck’s Whiskey and Burger Bar in the Canal District, which is conveniently located within spitting distance of Polar Park, the future home of the Worcester Red Sox.

13. Owners of Armsby Abbey Plan to Open a Second Concept in Hudson:

Sherri Sadowski and Alec Lopez announced in February that they have a new project on the horizon. Their downtown craft beer bar and restaurant, Armsby Abbey, celebrated its tenth anniversary over the summer. Their second restaurant, Conico, will be located in Hudson with a focus on traditional Mexican cuisine. Sadowski and Lopez demand a level of excellence that takes precision and patience, so don’t expect a rushed opening any time soon.

14. Legacy Opens and Closes in Less Than a Year:

Legacy Bar and Grill opened on Mill Street in January and closed earlier this month after less than a year in business. Its location along Coes Reservoir offered ample parking and waterfront views.

15. The Hangover Pub and Broth Overcome Temporary Closing:

The Hangover Pub and Broth, both of The Hangover Corporation, reopened over the summer after temporary closure on account of previous owner, Christopher Slavinskas’ involvement in concealment of drug money for restaurateur Kevin A. Perry Jr. Broth and The Hangover have since reopened under a newly formed corporation without Slavinskas.

16. The Canal District Takes a New Approach to Parking:

Mass Foodies took a stroll with Avra Hoffman of BirchTree Bread Co. to gauge the Canal District’s parking situation given the construction that is reshaping the neighborhood’s walkability.

17. Tatnuck Grille Closes:

Tatnuck Grille closed in April with news that the space had been apprehended by the owners of Funky Murphy’s.

18. Food Trucks Attract Thousands to Worcester:

More than 2,000 people came out for the first Food Truck Throwdown in Green Hill Park in May, organized by The Dogfather, Mark Gallant. Beyond simply satisfying our appetites, food trucks have major spatial benefits which impact our abilities to activate blank territories throughout the city. We predict that the pop-up mentality will continue to grow based on popular entities like Wooden Noodles.

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Your Mid-Summer Food News Recap

Olive & Herb with whipped feta, evoo & herbs (BirchTree Bread Company)

A few of your favorite restaurants want you to try cooking at home this summer. No joke. Just ask Lynn Cheney of Lettuce Be Local whose unique spin on the CSA is changing the way Central Mass thinks about food. She has strategically selected three pickup locations at area restaurants in different neighborhoods of the city in order to foster ease and walkability for residents. Pickups can be made at deadhorse hill downtown, Lock 50 in the Canal District and simjang on Shrewsbury Street. Orders can be personalized based on each member’s needs from week to week and offers accessibility to Cheney’s wide network of farms, previously only available to chefs. The CSA does not include dairy and meat at this time.

Meet the Only Woman Worcester's Top Chefs Trust With Their Beef, Farmer Joan WalkerIf it’s meat you’re after, look no farther than Walker Farm. I should warn you that obtaining Joanie Walker’s beef can be as challenging as Elaine Benes ordering a cup of soup. Joanie only sells to chefs who will do justice to her herd of grass-fed Red Devon cattle known for their healthy, hearty, marbled meat. You’ve probably enjoyed the results of her love and labor at Armsby Abbey, deadhorse hill, or the International’s Fireplace Room. Joanie’s reputation is steadfast among local foodies for producing the highest quality beef in the region. I visited Walker Farm in New Braintree in order to fully appreciate Joanie’s patience and care for her cows. (Rest assured, I went home with a freezer full of meat.)

This month, the Worcester Foodies visited 110 Grill where they admired the “very cool outdoor patio and fire pit that was bustling on the beautiful summer evening we visited.” 110’s ambience was dubbed “casual elegance” by the group. Lindsay said, “Big windows along the front of the restaurant allow you to overlook some of downtown Worcester’s new sights. I can’t wait to spend and evening on the patio trying some options from the cocktail menu.” Stephanie added, “I was born and raised in Worcester and I really enjoy seeing my city grow and thrive.” The evening marked Worcester Foodies’ 86th consecutive monthly outing. They found a wide range of crowd pleasers from light and casual salads to comfort classics such as Meatloaf or Mac and Cheese and even all out NY Sirloin or Rib Eye Steak options.

Contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores continued her #SundayFunday series with trips to Boston’s Barking Crab and Worcester’s Hacienda Don Juan. Regarding the Barking Crab she wrote, “On any given day, the patio tables are lined with patrons enjoying the summer breeze and the distinct smell of the sea as they order signature items like the Crabby Coolers – a 32 oz drink of choice, usually with alcohol – or admire the King Platter – a 10lb lobster and mixed crab bowl as it is served to a nearby table.” Hacienda proved equally transportive on account of their corn loving dishes made with pupusas, tortillas, and tamales.

Mass Foodies welcomed a new writer this month. Dana Harrison, MS. Harrison is a nutritionist, educator, and fitness instructor with a simple approach to nutrition, health, and wellness. Harrison’s philosophy is, “Eat, move, love, and learn. It’s all a balancing act.” Her goal is to help others find their own balance through health and wellness with a concentration on nutrition education. She has amassed over 25,000 followers on Instagram with the handle @eats2know. Her inaugural article raised a toast to toast, getting personal with BirchTree. Harrison sees toast as a tool for portion control with a variety of nutrients and flavors.

Buck's Whiskey & Burger Bar on Green Street in Worcester, MAContributor Veronica Vann Jura visited Buck’s Whiskey & Burger Bar to scope out the atmosphere. She admired the original artwork by Tony Freitas, the narrow layout reminiscent of a ‘country-road,’ and even the tidy restrooms. The only thing missing from Buck’s was apparently the line dancing. There’s an idea for August…