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activities also in issue dining

Eat Beat

Paul Giorgio

Buck’s not sold? The rumor that Buck’s Burger on Worcester’s Green Street has been sold was a bit premature. Nick Panerelli thought he had a deal, but like all deals, nothing is final until the check clears the bank. 

Another Canal rumor. It appears that Birch Tree Bread Company, also on Green Street, has been sold to Alexis Kelleher, owner of Crust on Main Street & West Boylston Street. There are no plans to change the concept.

And even another canal rumor: is the Hotel Vernon going to serve food?  It looks like the iconic Hotel Vernon in Worcester’s Kelley Square will now be serving food. The kitchen, which hasn’t been used in 22 years, has been upgraded to code. It appears they will be serving Asian fusion cuisine, although to use the word “cuisine” may be a stretch.

Best Vegan.  Yelp recently released a list of the top 100 vegan restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and two Massachusetts eateries made the cut: Belmont Vegetarian in Worcester ranked No. 64, and Bayberry Cafe in Woburn ranked No. 68. We have always heard good things about the place on Worcester’s Belmont Street.

It’s not the US Mint.  Mint, A Vietnamese restaurant, opened the first week of April in the space that was once home to the Blarney Stone on Worcester’s Maywood St. Mint is owned by Van Le and his family. Le is no stranger to Worcester, having owned Tortilla Sam’s on Highland Street for about a decade.

EB Flatts to reopen.  Former owners Scott and Grace Conner are coming out of retirement to reopen the iconic East Brookfield eatery. Originally opened in 2006, the Conner’s sold the place two years ago and were enjoying what now be described as a short retirement. They are touting family fare reasonable prices

New Asian.  SOHO has opened at 580 Park Ave in Worcester. This was the site of the old Friendly’s near Webster Square and more recently Pho Bowl. They offer sushi and hibachi, as well as a Bento box lunch special for $12

Hangin on the corner.  We hear that the Corner Lunch at the corner of Quinsigamond Ave and Lamartine Street, and just steps from Polar Park, may be on the market again. The current owners from Boston have owned it for less than a year. Maybe the commute was too much.

North County news.  The Moran Square Diner, a Fitchburg mainstay, has new owners and an updated menu. Now owned by Adam and Brittany Willoughby, beside diner fare, the restaurant will offer upscale offerings. The Willoughby’s spent about a year cleaning the place before they opened. Now you can get why they are calling it “elevated diner fare”. Try it out!

Outdoor dining returns.  The Worcester License Commission has been fielding a number of requests for outdoor dining.  The most recent request comes from the newly opened Two Chefs on West Boylston Street. People seem to enjoy eating outside during the summer, so hopefully we will continue with this expanded option.

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THE SPRING REGATTA
MAKES A SPLASH

JENNIFER RUSSO

Thank goodness the weather is FINALLY getting warmer. Those of us who hide away from the cold are peeking our heads out like groundhogs to welcome the sun. Outdoor sports and activities begin to make the city buzz with life, and at its hub is Lake Quinsigamond, which will be the center of regatta competitions.

A regatta is a series of boat races where teams show off their skills in rowing after months of training. Rowing made its way to the United States mid-century. An intercollegiate race challenge was issued by Yale to Harvard back in 1852, and so the tie-in to college sports began.

Nearly 4-miles long and narrow, Lake Quinsigamond has played host to regattas since the mid 1800s and is ideal for rowing. The lake even hosted the National Olympic rowing trials in 1952. 

The spring regatta consists of various races, including the New England Rowing Championships (NERC) held on April 30th. Though there are many events across the country at the collegiate level, Lake Quinsigamond will be the canvas for two of the largest races. Hosted by the Intercollegiate Rowing Association, these include the Men’s and Women’s Eastern Sprints. 

The Women’s Sprints will be on Sunday May 1st and the Men’s Sprints will take place on Sunday, May 15th. The races hold both morning and afternoon heats for the different categories. The winners of those heats then take place in the final to determine the ultimate winner. 

Schools need to apply to be represented at these races and must be organization members of USRowing and the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC).  Massachusetts teams include Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and our own Holy Cross.

Holy Cross was ranked #20 in the nation in the latest IRA poll to open the season and in March, the men’s team won all four races at the Jesuit Invitational. The women’s team placed second in the varsity eight B final and first in the second varsity eight B final. The varsity four also took first in the C final.  

Last month, the men’s team competed in the Occoquan Invitational in Virginia, where the team placed first in the varsity eight, first in the second varsity eight and fourth in the third varsity eight, taking fourth in the final.

Throughout the spring and summer, other teams, including Assumption, Worcester Polytechnic, Clark, Worcester Academy, Shrewsbury, St. John’s, and St. Mark’s, compete in a number of races hosted by the Quinsigamond Rowing Association (QRA).

Local teams are looking really good this year too. The WPI men’s varsity eight recently came in third in the Donahue Cup and the women’s team took first in their final. Clark’s women’s varsity eight broke their program record time twice in the races on April 10th

The college rowing teams will compete in the National Invitational Collegiate Championship on Sunday, May 8th and high school rowing teams can compete in the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association (NEIRA) competition held on May 28th

So, don’t be surprised when you see a fleet of boats on the lake with lots of spectators cheering for their favorite rowing teams. Even better, park your car and join them as the scene is a sight to behold.  

For rowing team schedules, you can check their respective school athletics websites. To see a list of all regattas being held on Lake Quinsigamond, you can visit www.qra.org and for a full list of regattas in the United States, you can head to www.regattacentral.com.

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activities also in issue Featured Posts sports&fitness

New in the Woo: X-Golf

Irena Kaci

Marc Catanese has always been a fan of his hometown Worcester, Massachusetts. As an avid golfer and aspiring entrepreneur, when he heard of indoor golfing, he did not hesitate to check it out. “As soon as I went in, I knew this was the franchise I wanted.” X-Golf won him over and immediately he began scouting locations. When the corporation mentioned having an interest in expanding their central mass market, Worcester became the easy favorite. Nestled between Chipotle, Starbucks, and countless other businesses, X-Golf is primed to find its niche clientele and enrich the Trolley Yard plaza.

The interior feels luxurious and casual at the same time; a kind of sports bar meets doing business outside of the boardroom vibe. It is at once spacious and intimate, with nine separate simulators, including a private room for VIPs. “If any local sports teams, like the WooSox, want to come in and play a couple of hours of golf, they can have some privacy.”- Catanese says. His hometown pride is easy to spot throughout the business model. 

Marc Catanese grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Worcester, and his loyalty runs deep. He understands that part of having a business thriving in a community means absolutely supporting the community right back, which is why he is committed to promoting local brands. “Over here if you ask for a Coke or a Diet Coke, you’re going to get Polar. It’s all Polar all the time. Polar Cola, Polar Diet Cola. We’re not going to bring a corporation in here when we have perfectly good products being made right here in our city.” It doesn’t stop there, of course, as the bar drafts are all familiar names, including Wachusett, Greater Good, Redemption Rock and of course Wormtown.

It was not easy being ready for opening day by March 1, 2022, but Catanese was determined. “Even though the supply chain made things difficult, I knew I could get it done.” He says, having already been delayed for a few months. “Hiring has been easy,” he continues, and it is refreshing to hear, “Bartenders just are more available for some reason; it has been easy to find people looking for work despite the pandemic. We even have a PGA Golf Pro double as our Assistant Manager. He’s available for private lessons in addition to his management duties.” Indeed anyone interested in playing golf or learning the sport could hardly expect a better setup. 

The fact that there are private lessons offered by request really makes golfing accessible to all. Catanese is hoping to offer children’s lessons during school breaks. Thanks to their daytime hours and versatility, this is a great place for children to pick up the skills and the passion to become tomorrow’s golfing pros. 

Even though the dream was born only a year ago, Catanese’s desire to own his own business is practically life-long. “This is my first business venture and it is just me, so I’m learning as I go. I like to be involved in as much as I can. Even though it’s a hike, I am here every morning, having meetings with vendors, personally managing every aspect. We have a capacity of 101 people so this really is a great space for big events. We are hoping to host anything from a bachelor party to a wind-down celebration of a corporate milestone.” 

X-Golf is located at 287 Grove Street and is open seven days a week. Book a t time on their website at playxgolf.com/locations/worcester/

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activities also in issue architecture Featured Posts

FROM SHOE FACTORY TO
LUXURIOUS LOFTS

VINCENT PACIFICO

Located at 28 Water Street, the JH and GM Walker Shoe Company built its four and a
half story brick factory building in 1870 and was a manufacturer of heavy boots which
were commonly sold throughout the American West. Boot and shoe manufacturing
was Worcester’s third largest 19th century industry with more than 300 employees
working in this building alone. In recent years, the building definitely showed its age
from the dark soot stained brick exterior, the boarded up and broken windows and
cracking brick mortar lines. In 2019, developer Anthony Rossi acquired the defunct
factory building, giving it a new life and transforming it into what is now the Walker
Lofts. The 62 unit residential building provides luxurious apartments with onsite amenities to new city residents, and restores much of the historic fabric of the building
both interior and exterior.


Before these vacant brick buildings are turned into the luxurious loft style apartments
that we all know and love, the existing interiors are typically rugged, dirty, have leaking
roofs and the floorboards stained with oil and grease from years of manufacturing.
This factory seemed to be preserved in time with pulleys and line shafts still secured to
the ceiling as if boots were still being produced off the line yesterday. Quite a different
feeling if you ever have the chance to explore a factory before and after an industrial
rehabilitation project.


One of the most feasible and cost effective ways developers have chosen to repurpose
factory buildings is by adapting them into residential communities which helps lessen
the ongoing housing demand. The Walker factory was a perfect location for residential
units being in a popular downtown neighborhood, walking distance to public
transit and right in the heart of a developing mixed use district. The new development
consists of studios, and both one and two bedroom units which is in line with the local
demand and helps get the density needed for a feasible development.


A unique design choice that makes this project stand out from its predecessors is its
white washed interior bricks both in the units and common spaces. If you ever have
the chance to spend time in a loft apartment, you may notice the large industrial
windows, the original refinished floorboards, but there is often a sense of dim lighting
from the dark red brick walls. Interior designer Tiffany Barqawi of Barqawi Design
made the choice to use a white, black and gray color palette to liven the rooms with
tones that reflect light, refresh the space with vibrance, and add a contemporary twist
to a rather rugged look. The interior still celebrates the industrial aesthetic by keeping
the brick, beams and ceiling exposed, while the white and black paint is able to give a
contemporary look and a modern industrial feel.


The units themselves feature open floor plan layouts with kitchens that have high end
cabinetry, stone countertops and top line appliances. Each apartment comes equipped
with their own washer/dryer, plenty of closet space and an energy efficient heating
system. The exposed ceilings, historic replica windows and repointed brickwork truly
help give the new residents an authentic experience of what it’s like to live in the
Canal District. The Walker factory is by no means the first of its kind in the area to
offer luxurious residential lofts, but without the vision, passion and creativity of the
developer and the design team behind them, this shoe factory may have seen its fate
as just another pile of bricks.

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DCU HOSTS SMACKDOWN

JENNY PACILLO

SmackDown at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. First Full House for a WWE in Worcester since
Blacklash 2003. (The Rock “Last Match”)

Smackdown returned to the DCU Friday night for the first time since July 2019, and Worcester was feeling it! The show began with a bang when “I HEAR VOICES IN MY HEAD” dropped and RK-Bro cut a promo on the Usos. Matt Riddle gave a brief history lesson on Worcester, making a point to clarify that Worcestershire sauce was not invented here. You learn something new every day. I saw Matt Riddle get thrown through a table at Electric Haze once, so I like to imagine he has a special place in his heart for our city.

Raw Tag Team Champions, RK BRO celebrating after a win from SmackDown Tag Team Champions,
the USOS. The people in the DCU Center is also celebrating with the Raw Tag Team Champions.

Madcap Moss’ first match since the breakup with Happy Corbin was well received by the audience. I’m all for Madcap Moss as a babyface, but I’m a die-hard Corbin fan. I’m hoping their falling out will shift Corbin away from the Dan Flashes shirts (the pattern’s so complicated)  and back to the despondent, constantly dirty Sad Corbin who we all grew to love. 

Madcap Moss wins with a huge pop from the Worcester crowd at the DCU Center.

My man Sami Zayn came out to boos for his match against Drew McIntyre, which was crazy to me. I love Sami Zayn. His intro is catchy, he’s friends with Laura Jane Grace, and his humanitarian efforts are amazing. The feud between Drew and Sami continued with Sami running through the crowd to escape the Scottish Warrior. Adam Pearce has had enough of Sami Zayn’s antics and scheduled a lumberjack match for next week. 

The Worcester crowd at the DCU Center counted down with Drew McIntyre for his finisher before Sami Zayn ran out backstage and lose the match via Count Out.

The show ended with a dark match between Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes. Even though it was late, both wrestlers were met with a solid pop. Rollins and Rhodes are a great matchup, but I do wish Oxford’s own Damien Sandow would come back for a Rhodes Scholars reunion. Cody grabbed a mic when the match ended and thanked the crew for all their hard work. He promised to sign autographs and take pictures with fans for as long as he could. What a class act. 

The American Nightmare, Cody Rhodes rallying the Worcester Crowd.

The DCU crushed it as always. Lines moved quickly, the staff was super helpful and friendly and our seats were amazing. WWE and the DCU make for a great pair, it’s the perfect venue for Smackdown. My only regret was missing out on buying a one-night-only “Worcester 3:16” shirt, but that was on me. It will obviously be a while, but I’m already looking forward to the next WWE event at the DCU.

Worcester 3:16 shirts made by WWE Events. Pulse Magazine Art Director, Kevin La purchased them.
(Sorry Jenny)
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activities also in issue dining Featured Posts night out

COCKTAIL CORNER: Derek Grimm The Pint 

JENNY PACILLO

Derek Grimm wants you to know he is a “big fan of trashy 80s drinks”, including but certainly not limited to fuzzy navels and Alabama slamas. “I like taking really crappy drinks like that and making them better,” he explains.

“Daiquiris are a super simple drink, but there are endless possibilities to create your own variation,” he says, as he effortlessly mixes,“a riff on the extremely poorly named drink, the Pearl Harbor.” Grimm’s new take is Plantation Stiggin’s Fancy Pineapple Rum, Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum, Midori, lime, and sugar, and it’s amazing. Refreshing and fun, but also unpretentiously classy. 

What’s Derek’s favorite part about being a bartender?  “It’s nice to not have to work a 9 to 5 in an office and talk to some guy named Dave about how my weekend was,” he tells me as I laugh. Derek’s not just bartending to avoid watercooler conversations though, he enjoys being creative and connecting with people while he’s behind the bar. 

You can visit Derek at the Pint, Valentino’s, or when he feels the need to be creative, one of his pop-ups. “They’re loose and fun,” he says of his events, “they’re meant to showcase the artisan aspect and how different products can play different roles.” Treat yourself to an extremely improved trashy drink from the 80’s, unless your name is Dave and you’re curious about his weekend.