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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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Maddi’s Cookery + TapHouse Adds to Canal District Dining Options

Maddi’s Cookery + TapHouse has been on the Worcester Foodies’ radar since opening, with some of our members having tried it and others waiting to have their first visit with our group.

Adam Hicks, owner of the Depot St Tavern in Milford, MA felt Worcester’s busy new food scene would be the perfect place to open what he described as “a classic neighborhood pub” to the Canal District.

With that in mind, Hicks persuaded award-winning chef Chris O’Hara (2018 Worcester’s Best Chef, Worcester’s Chili & Chowder Fest winner) to leave the Flying Rhino and join him on his adventure. O’Hara, who has been part of the Worcester dining scene for over 20 years, is leaning on that experience to build a creative but approachable menu ranging from Buffalo Chicken Meatballs and Stick E. Bacon starters, to ½ pound burgers, to Shrimp and Grits and Bloody Mary Steak Frites.

Located at 64 Water Street (old Perfect Game space) in the ever-changing Canal District, Maddi’s interior uses exposed brick, reclaimed wood and hand-built furniture to create a semi-industrial neighborhood pub atmosphere that is welcoming and relaxing. As Lynn described it “I loved the décor and vibe”. Take the creative menu, the décor and add 20 beers on tap, a nice selection of whiskeys and an outdoor patio that seats 100 and Maddi’s has something for everyone.

Once we all arrived we sat at a large table in the back dining room of the restaurant. This room, complete with a bar, huge TVs and lots of Worcester-related décor is a nice, comfortable space to enjoy dinner. Popular appetizers were the Buffalo Chicken Meatballs (chicken meatballs, fennel apple slaw, poblano ranch dressing, topped with home-made buffalo sauce) and the Stick E. Bacon (thick cut Applewood-smoked bacon,srirachaa, brown sugar).

Our initial service was prompt, with our table being assigned a few different servers. Drink and app orders were taken as our group reviewed the extensive menu. With only a few items on the menu approaching $20, the choices were plenty for an affordable dinner.

Steve started his night with the aforementioned Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, as well as sharing the BBQ Chicken Poutine which he described as “amazing”.

Robyn enjoyed the “Wings your Way” to start, offering, “the dry rubbed wings were a great combination of spicy and sweet (and had quite a zing to them).”

A variety of drinks were served during as we enjoyed the appetizers. Lynn found the Fall Drink Special – a caramel apple sangria – to be “spot on and very tasty.”

Meals were served and interestingly enough, the Fried Chicken and Waffle was the choice for many of the Foodies.

Evan told us, “It was a perfect balance of spicy and sweet in each bite. Plenty spicy but not over the top. The cheddar bacon waffle is homemade and was flavorful and moist. The best part was the jalepeno infused maple syrup that added the sweetness and subtle lingering heat after each bite. To top it all off, literally, was a sunny side up egg. The yolk added a creamy texture of richness of the meal”. Robyn echoed most sentiments saying her Chicken and Waffles were “crisp and spicy, with a nice jalepeno syrup.”

Dana thought the Chicken and Waffles were “excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it”. The syrup added heat and cut the sweet of the syrup perfectly and balanced the overall flavor very well”.

Stephanie had a mixed take on her meal. “For my meal,” she explained, “I ordered the Scallops and Grits. The meal itself was average and a bit pricey. The scallops are charred to the point of being overdone and the polenta was more of a cement like texture than I would like.” But she added, “The buffalo wing appetizer was large and the wings were drenched in a nice spicy sauce. The flavor was delicious…I also had bites of the Stick E. Bacon and Poutine, which were fabulous.”

“We started with the Red Pepper Hummus which had lots of flavor and was delicious. For my meal, I had a huge beet salad with plump enormous shrimp, very tasty, plenty of food. The herbed goat cheese was smooth and creamy and added very unique texture to the salad,” said Julie.

For the author’s meal, I had the Teriyaki Turkey Tips and found them to be outstanding. They were plentiful and served over a coconut black rice that was moist and delicious. The broccolini and mango salsa added some additional flavors and textures that made the meal complete.

Lynn and Julie felt like their experience was good with “attentive service and good food at a reasonable price.”

As with so many places our group visits, there were lots of good and a few that just missed the mark. Overall the Foodies thought Maddi’s Cookery and TapHouse delivered an above average meal, with great service.

Julie summed it up well, “Maddi’s is a comfortable, neighborhood pub in the Canal District that serves good food with a twist at reasonable prices.”