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Halloween Happenings

Irena Kaci

Halloween is here again, and with it some of the best events of the year. If you are a New England native, or even a younger transplant, you are one of many whose fall memories include crisp afternoons spent picking apples, eating candy and popcorn under clear blue skies in local farms and festivals. Though many of our local festivals take place during the month of September, perhaps my favorite hidden gem of a festival is an October only affair, I’m talking about Dismas House Farm’s Festival. 

Since moving to Worcester almost a decade ago, I have always longed for a low effort but high yield fall festival, and that is precisely what Dismas House’s Fall Harvest Festival has to offer. Since 2015, Dismas has been cooking up their homemade chili and butternut squash soups, served to keep visitors warm on the windy October days. Due to popular demand, the festival takes place over two separate Saturdays so as to give fans a couple of options for not missing out.

This year, Dismas’ Fall Festival will take place on the Saturdays of October 7th as well as 14th from 1-4. Visitors can enjoy the hay maze stuffed (and regularly replenished) with hidden candy waiting to be found, and then slide right down out of the barn. Dismas has ‘pumpkin’ painting stations, as well as face painting stations. There is always lively music in the background, and the friendly staff offers hayrides up the slow hill that overlooks the farm. It is an easy and picturesque way to spend the afternoon, while supporting a plucky farm with an important mission.

photo from Dismas House’s Facebook

Not far from Worcester’s Tatnuck Square, the Leicester farm stand and local gem Breezy Gardens is located right down McNeil Highway. Every autumn, Breezy Gardens sets up their giant pumpkin slide for children to herald their busiest time of the year. I spoke with manager Kim Miczek who updated me on this year’s events. 

“We start with our pumpkin festival to kick off festivities. This year will be the 30th of September and 1st of October. After that, every weekend in October as well as Columbus Day. We have an admission fee, and that covers hayrides, a small maze designed for families with young children, particularly children ages nine years and younger. Guests are welcome to pick their own pumpkins or visit the goats or take a hayride around the farm. We try to keep things new and updated every year. Indoors we have our corn kernel ‘sand boxes’. Some kids don’t ever leave those once they settle in. They’re so popular! The big attraction for some of the bigger kids is a giant pile of tractor tires that we set aside for climbing. Kids use it as another version of a jungle gym, but it’s unlike anything else around here. They love to play on it. We top it all off with a bouncy house and our classic giant Jack-O-Lantern slide.”

photo from Breezy Garden’s Facebook

If you have a hankering for haunts, and ‘will travel’, consider celebrating October with one of Tom & Arlene’s D’Agostino’s ‘Dining with The Dead’ events. The October iteration will take place at the Publick House in Sturbridge on October 30th.  

“We’ve been doing these events since 2007, and they’ve been quite successful. We’ve been using the Publick House for the past five years. We sell tickets on Eventbrite. Tom gives a presentation on the history of the haunts and place and the rooms where they’ll be investigating. We try to cap it at around 52 people per event and we often have a wait list.” Tom explains. “I’m a softy so I cave in and let extra people in.“ chimes Arlene.

Dining with the Dead at Old Sturbridge Village

The structure remains the same at each event. There is the presentation, a small window of ‘giveaways’, including things like books written on the subject of the paranormal, novelty tarot cards and the like. Next, there is an all you can eat dinner buffet. At the end of dinner, Tom & Arlene go over the equipment that will be used during the ‘investigation’. Once everyone is prepped on the equipment, the group breaks into four subgroups of about 14 people and they start exploring the four available spaces. 

The D’Agostionos love sharing their most memorable events. Tom recalls an incident with Room 14, “One time during our investigation dinner at the Publick House, Arlene was in Room 40 and I was in the ballroom, when suddenly there was a loud crash in Room 14. It was loud enough that it sounded like somebody might’ve dropped a grand piano down the stairs. We all moved quickly down to the room, but when we unlocked the door, it was completely empty and still.” But that is only one of many memorable stories. 

“At the public house, the cameras have motion sensors, and the cameras go on even when the room is empty. Sometimes you can see like a form moving around the table. It’s uncanny!” Arlene goes on. “Another time at The Publick House I was up in Room 40, I usually investigate that room, I was telling everyone about the haunts. All the sudden the whole room started to smell a sweet, cloying aroma like that of funeral flowers. No one sprayed any perfume or anything like that but the smell was very noticeable. It permeated the whole area. And as quick as it came on, it dissipated. It was very distinct. Another time, all of a sudden there was a very strong odor that smelled like ammonia, which is what we use to clean spaces. It was unmistakable.” 

Arlene and Tom have compiled a long list of ‘anomalies’ that defy our perception of reality. “It’s really something. We love the work,” says Arlene, “At the end of each investigation we gather all the materials that we record and that participants record, and we make sure to make it available to everyone who attended. You never know who’s going to notice something unexplained, and that’s what we all want to see.” Indeed, what is Halloween if not the celebration of the unseen?

Tower Hill Botanical Gardens is celebrating the season of fright with its most magical display yet. Lea Morgan has been working all month to make her creative vision come to life, namely a nature-meets-art installation called “Myths, Magic, and Monsters”.  The menagerie of magical creatures is currently up and available to visitors at Tower Hill Botanical Garden. Using inspiration found in nature, the team at Tower Hill has created eight creatures, including a mermaid, dragon, a phoenix and many more. I spoke with Morgan about the scope and strategy of this project.

photo by Troy Thompson Photography

“All these creatures are spread out in the ramble, which is the children’s area. I designed them but our education and horticulture team has been integral to the project’s installation. We are celebrating the project with an event called ‘Enchanted Weekend’, which will take place the weekend of October 7th through the 9th.” 

Enchanted Weekend centers around this exhibit but includes much more. “There will be a local vendor fair, we are setting up craft activities for children, and we’ll have a live owl presentation. During lunch times we are even offering unicorn pony rides. We will have live Celtic music playing, and stilt walkers strolling about to add to the magical mise-en-scene. Kids are invited to come for the events, the craft workshops or just even to enjoy the variety of magical creatures roaming the grounds. It’s incredibly family friendly, and is sure to entertain people of all ages.” 

photo by Troy Thompson Photography

There is no doubt about it, this new tradition of celebrating Magic and Monsters, serves as a very welcome lead up to Tower Hill’s already jubilant winter lights event. Even as the outdoor light dims, the inner light grows brighter.

While we are on the subject of inner light, the Dirty Gerund –the poetry staple at Ralph’s Rock Diner –is joining forces with the Worcester Writers’ Collective [WWC] to set up their own Halloween offering. For one night only, Monday October 30th at 8, the WWC will take over the Dirty Gerund and regale their audience with tales, poems, and vignettes celebrating mystery and horror. For anyone interested in the literary side of Halloween, this will be the one not to miss. If ever there was an appropriate setting for telling gory stories, Ralph’s Diner and its grungy energy is the perfect setting to hunker down with your beverage of choice and listen to local writers and storytellers perform their own magic.

“The Great Jack O’Lantern Journey” at Southwick Zoo

“The Great Jack O’Lantern Journey” is back from September 28th to October 31st at Southwick’s Zoo. This well loved festival, at New England’s largest zoo, offers entertainment and family-friendly
fun. You’ll be transported to a world of Halloween wonder through stunning hand-carved pumpkin displays, each telling a unique story. This festival is suitable for all ages, with enchanting displays, tasty seasonal treats, and live entertainment is a Halloween must.

“The Great Jack O’Lantern Journey” at Southwick Zoo

As always readers, Halloween in New England is a special time, perhaps even the most special time.  So close to summer and yet already moving toward wintery depths, Halloween rides on the tension between darkness and light. Whether you are enjoying the flaming foliage against the clear blue sky while riding hay bales, or stalking magical monsters and ghosts in old saloons, you are celebrating the best that New England has to offer, the season that turns the seasons, and the month at the very heart of this transition that is October. 

“The Great Jack O’Lantern Journey” at Southwick Zoo
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activities also in issue college cover story dining entertainment Featured Posts night out sports&fitness

Welcome to Worcester Class of 2027: Come on in The Worcester is Wicked Fine

Irena Kaci

Another year, another influx of budding adults: Worcester’s incoming first years is part of what keeps our city current and alive. We at Pulse are here to give a helping hand and a guide to what newly minted adults might enjoy and engage with in their various locales. 

If you’re coming into Worcester via Clark University, congratulations on joining the ranks of the city’s humanitarians, activists and artists. Nestled in Main South, Clark University is committed to seamlessly integrating the local community with student led missions. I spoke with recent graduate Brett Iarrobino, whose volunteer work during his undergraduate years included refugee assistance, and after school help to elementary school children. “St. Peter’s Church does homework for elementary school students. They pair you up with one or two different kids. It was a very cute way to engage and get some face time with some residents. Another volunteer spot was Main Idea Youth and Arts Nonprofit. Worcester Refugee Assistance Group also is a great place to volunteer. They are very active with the Korean, Afghan, and Burmese populations.”

Volunteering in the community is not the only way to engage with Main South. Just around the corner from campus there are several small eateries with a smorgasbord of multicultural offerings. “Formerly Acoustic Java, the new coffee shop nearest campus is now called Belen’s Casa De Pan, and it is a delicious Salvadorian bakery. The new owner is a former Clark University graduate herself. Further down, there’s Hacienda Don Juan. It’s a lunch and dinner spot with $1 pupusa for students.”

Emma Couillard completed both her BA & MA through Clark’s 5th year free program and had her own recommendations and fond memories to impart. “Right near campus, there’s Saigon as well as Mint. They are both Vietnamese cuisines but totally different vibes. Saigon is more casual and lunch, whereas Mint is over by Worcester Pizza Factory, and hosts a lot of college-student friendly events, such as trivia and karaoke. They also offer a lot of good deals for students. On campus, I loved the Hillel-run Midnight Bagel Events. It is exactly what it sounds like: Bagels and schmear at midnight, as a study break. One great place to know about on campus is the Traina Center. It’s a bit off to the side right on Park Avenue, but they host a lot of great events, including a small museum in the bottom floor, which runs exhibits of local artists, both students and non-students.” 

Mint Kitchen and Bar’s Big Mint Platter

If you’re coming to Worcester via WPI, congratulations on joining the ranks of the future engineers, problem solvers, and having the unique experience of Greek Life while on campus. WPI has the distinction of being in the most ‘trafficked on foot’ part of our city, and is packed to the gills with dining and activity options. 

Right on Highland Street, there are various WPI student frequented haunts like Thai Time, and the Bean Counter Café. The Bean Counter is well known around these parts for their delicious vegan and gluten free baked goods. An easy place to sit down and get some work done, The Bean Counter also boasts one of the most active and current bulletin boards for local events. 

A few doors down from both these spots is Taqueria Del Pueblo, a lively food stand turned restaurant, offering affordable lunch and dinner options for students and faculty alike. Not far from campus there is also Worcester’s most beloved dive bar, Ralph’s Rock Diner. Ralph’s offers the grittiest Worcester, served with a side of 90s grunge.  For students looking to unwind with punk rock or poetry, Ralph’s offers Slam Poetry nights on Mondays, and a smattering of local shows throughout the month.

If your interests are a bit more board game oriented, you’ll not want to miss the city’s Nerd Mecca a.k.a. That’s Entertainment. That’s E! hosts weekly Magic The Gathering, DnD, and more. It’s an easy walk through historic Elm Park, where the latest installation of ‘Art in the Park’ will enliven your stroll.

That’s Entertainment! on Park Ave.

If you’re coming to Worcester by way of Holy Cross, congratulations on joining the ranks of elite athletes, young go-getters, and entrepreneurs. Holy Cross is a mini universe of its own. You’ll have to drive a bit to get off campus, but fret not because even on campus there is plenty to do. From Cool Beans, the on campus coffee house offering a social space to meet and collaborate, to the Seelos Film House, offering exclusive features, your cup will be full. 

Should you choose to venture off campus, you will be less than two miles away from BirchTree Coffeehouse, one of the city’s most renowned and architecturally beautiful coffee houses and bake shops. They make some of the city’s best pizzas on Wednesday night and they offer student discounts. Situated right beneath BirchTree is the Crompton Collective, the gateway to Canal District’s most charming section. Local vendors, handmade goods and the biggest flower shop in town (Seed to Stem) await your perusal. To make a day of it, round the corner and take in a game of America’s pastime at Worcester’s own Woo Sox Ballpark, Polar Park. 

Polar Park

If you’re coming to Worcester by way of Assumption, congratulations on joining the ranks of tomorrow’s healers, organizers, and entertainers. Congratulations also on having, in this reporter’s humble opinion, the most picturesque campus. You will be happily situated equidistantly to both the city and the countryside, with ample options on either end. A short drive from campus on Salisbury Street, and you will find the Worcester Art Museum, one of our more prized locales offering tours, classes and so much more. If you’re looking for more of the same, not far from the WAM there is also ArtsWorcester, a small gallery that packs a big punch. If you’re looking for some communing with nature, it will be easy to head in the opposite directions to hit up Moore State Park or the Cascades for a rigorous and very autumnal experience. Looking for coffee shops, there are quite a few within the mile radius, including Espress Yourself, a small European style café. Just up the street, there is Root & Press, if you’re looking for a more collegiate atmosphere. Root and Press does double duty as both bookshop and coffee/lunch spot. You can dine in or al fresco and pick up your extracurricular reading all in one trip. 

If you’re coming to Worcester via Worcester State, congratulations on joining the ranks of local juggernauts who may or may not know Worcester just as well as I do. Worcester State’s campus and campus offerings are perhaps the most successfully intertwined with the local community, giving anyone who isn’t a local, a chance to blend in with ease. Located right on Chandler Street, one of Worcester’s thoroughfares, Worcester State students are very centrally located. 

I spoke with recent graduate and current Assistant Director of Conferences and Events, Caitlin Kincaide for some insider tips.  “My friends and I really like to try different places to eat, weekends or afternoon free time. If it was lunch and we wanted to study and do homework we would go to Nu Kitchen, The Mercantile, or the Boynton. We also went to a place called Blackstone. They do ‘flights’ of everything there, so you can try different menu times. On campus, there is usually one Halloween related fair, filled with Halloween activities. Also, in September, they bring a mini-farmer’s market on campus for a big health fair.” 

Nu Kitchen

To caffeinate, I would recommend the newly established Worcester Sweets, which serves the best Colombian coffee around, in an atmosphere that I can best describe as Barbie-core. While lunch spots are aplenty, I want to give a special shout out to Nu Kitchen, which is a well worn WSU hangout, always offering exactly what is needed. But within a stone’s throw, there are several options including Nancy Chang’s for a mom and dad sit down dinner, and Sushi Miyazawa, a surprisingly delectable hole in the wall. Make it a triple feature and stop into Tidepool Bookshop for the latest poetry reading, or book launch and you’ll feel like both a college student and a Worcesterite in no time.

Even though Worcester boasts the title of second largest New England City, we do not suffer the congestion of some of the bigger cities out there, and therefore all of these options are easily available. For this reason, it makes sense to set up a central list of Worcester 101, listed below:

Bars:

While I understand that most first-years are unlikely to need this advice right away, it never hurts to plan ahead. Worcester is fortunate to boast a long list of breweries, and beer gardens. 

Not least among them, is the Worcester Beer Garden (64 Franklin Street), offering beautiful open air dining, with a luxurious twist. You’ll forget that you’re not across the pond in some of their fantastically luxurious seating options. 

Blue Jeans Pizza (270 Park Avenue) is another collegiate spot that just invested in their own beer garden, and it does not disappoint. Located in a rather heavily trafficked corner, you’ll get the most Worcester vistas, while enjoying a slice and maybe (someday!) a cold one. 

My personal favorite brewing spot is Greater Good Brewery (55 Millbrook Street) offering both casual indoor and outdoor dining. 

And last, but not least, because BarbieCore is having a moment, Femme Bar, Worcester’s answer to the gay bars of yesteryear. Featured on their very ‘on theme’ menu you’ll find sparkling wine on tap, and a can of ‘gay beer’.

Restaurants:

Worcester has too many to name, but I’d like to mention those that might go easy on a college student’s budget the most. 

First up Fantastic Pizza (910 Main Street) has the best falafel wrap, at the most reasonable price but they have pizza and mozzarella sticks too. While you wait for your order, you can play the old timey Galaga machine that still takes quarters inside. 

Or, head off to George’s Coney Island Hot Dog (158 Southbridge Street) for a classic at a reasonable price. It’s not just the hot dogs, but also the turn of the century time capsule atmosphere that’ll make you think fondly of your college years. 

Shawarma Palace (20 Franklin Street) downtown offers the absolute best shawarma around, at lonely a fraction of the usual price. 

And, lastly, if you’re looking for Vietnamese cuisine, Da-Lat (425 Park Avenue) goes easy on your wallet while absolutely pummeling your taste buds.

Events/Activities: 

Worcester offers countless ways to spend the time, but I’d like to mention a few under the radar and perhaps uniquely Worcester options for newcomers to explore. 

I have never lived anywhere else where I could watch wrestling live, and it’s all thanks to Wrestling at the White Eagle (116-120 Green Street). Every Thursday night at 8pm, any interested parties can see wrestlers from all over New England duke it out with impunity. 

If you’re jonesing for old school vibes and 90s era arcades, do not miss out on Materia Machina (116a June Street). The owners are a dedicated duo, looking to bring the same joy of coin-operated games to the residents of Worcester. But wait, there’s more. Just a couple of doors down, its sister business, a budding ‘video store’ and event place is shaping up to be a hub for local news, and local politics. 

If you’re a cinephile, you will do well to explore the Elm Draught House Cinema (35 Elm St., Millbury). It is a small but hearty presence, with the goal of keeping art house movies alive and on the big screen. 

Last, but certainly not least, if you’ve ever thought you might write the great American novel, give the Worcester Writers’ Collective (20 Franklin Street at the JMAC) a chance. Their weekly Tuesday night meetings include a small but plucky band of artists, writers, and thespians looking to be a part of your journey.

So there it is, the Worcester of 2023. It will surely change and be changed by countless forces, and congratulations again on being part of our history and part of that change.

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also in issue architecture Featured Posts

Worcester’s Most Endangered Structures

Vincent Pacifico

Calling all preservationists, architectural experts or those who just love old buildings. Preservation Worcester has posted its annual list of the most endangered structures around the city. This is a list of historically or culturally significant buildings that must meet a specific criteria and are deemed to be in severe disrepair or danger of demolition. Worcester has a long list of contributing buildings and historically significant structures but unfortunately as the years go by, the list gets shorter. All of the buildings they list must be at least 50 years old and contribute to Worcester’s historical and architectural heritage.

The oldest building that has made the list is known as Cow Tavern, which is located at 274 Salisbury Street. This Federal Style house was built in 1780 and was operated as a tavern until 1830. Symmetry is one of the main characteristics of buildings of the Federal Style. This structure shows clear resemblance of the style in the facade with its centered front door, symmetrical window placement and the two chimneys flanking both sides of the main entry.. Currently the house sits vacant and shows extreme disrepair in its windows, clapboard siding and foundation. With its prominent location in the city’s west side, hopefully this structure can be restored by the right owner and its history preserved.

Another unique building that made the list is known as Larchmont which is an Italianate and Second Empire Villa located in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood. It is one of the only surviving structures in the city of those architectural styles. Designed as a single family home by Worcester architect Elbridge Boyden and constructed in 1858, this property is in immaculate condition and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was last used as a funeral home and its current owner appears to be seeking a demolition permit from the city. During the extent of the city’s one year Demolition Delay Ordinance, hopefully the property owner can come to an agreement with a developer who intends to retain the historic structure on the property.

29 Bellevue Street is a great example of an original looking three decker built in 1900. This style building was very popular around the city and greatly contributed to housing Worcester’s working class population.This building retains much of its original architectural fabric such as the cornice details,shingle siding and wood trim boards. You don’t find many buildings anymore that have their original elements intact or even surviving for that matter. The building recently had a fire and appears to be in great need of repair. If its owners choose to restore the building to its original look, they have a great canvas of original parts to work with.

With quite a few more buildings on the list, Preservation Worcester did a great job of bringing to the public’s attention some of the city’s prized homes, barns and carriage houses that are in need of repair or saving. As sustainable design becomes more important and as construction prices keep going up, preservation and restoration seems out of reach for many. However, looking at how these buildings have stood the test of time, for some being almost 250 years old, it only makes sense to retain and upgrade these prized structures. For our city to retain an important sense of place and a unique character in the built environment, we need to preserve the heritage that previous generations have built so that future generations can also learn and experience a sense of the past when they see an old building.

Photo Citations

Image 1: Photo by Vincent Pacifico

Image 2: Photo by Vincent Pacifico

Image 3: Photo by Vincent Pacifico

Sources

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also in issue Featured Posts sports&fitness

Three New Sports Discoveries

Shaun Connolly

While every summer brings a new hope to our year. It has warm weather, vacations, longer days and of course plenty of sports. There will always be the mainstays of summer. There’s the NBA Finals, the Red Sox, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, there’s always a big soccer tournament (this year being the Women’s World Cup), and of course Wrestlemania. But sometimes, there are just slow weeks of nothing doing for sports. We find ourselves scrolling DraftKings to spice up a Reds vs. Cubs doubleheader, or staying up late to watch cornhole on ESPN 3. Here are some of my own discoveries while trying to fill the sport-less hole in the middle of July. 

Major League Cricket

This is honestly such an exciting sport. The big thing is grasping the rules. I understand that we as Americans don’t like learning new things or adapting to others culture but trust me, this is pretty awesome. I bet you didn’t even know there was a Cricket League in the U.S. Well there is. That honestly was the big gap for me trying to get into the sport. If I wanted to watch a match I would have to watch it at like 3 AM as it streamed from Agra, India. Well now, we have it here with teams in Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco and New York. How could you not want to root for the San Francisco Unicorns? For just $55 a year you can watch Major League Cricket live on WillowTV. You spend more on coffee in a month. I recommend you drink less caffeine and get your jolt from watching fast-paced American Cricket.

Professional Disc Golf

Folks really like to diss this one, but I don’t understand it. They say it’s dorky. You’re telling me real golf isn’t dorky? They say it looks easier. I insist as one who has been trying to play more this summer it is not, I apologize to all of the trees I have hit head on. This is a riveting sport of skill, touch and so many highlights. The women’s and men’s divisions each have plenty of breathtaking holes in ones, trick shots and seemingly impossible outs from strange angles. You can get a subscription on YouTube to watch their matches live, but you can also just head on up to Leicester to Maple Hill Disc Golf Course and watch one of their majors live and in person. I went last and will be going again this September and it will be something to behold. 

College Baseball World Series

The NCAA for a long time has figured out how to market and sell both college football and basketball very well. This country has made their games a huge part of their betting, spectating and partying habits. The College Baseball World Series that occurs in Omaha, Nebraska each year, had one of its most entertaining tournaments to date. We saw some of the top players at the collegiate level face off against each other. We saw upsets from tiny little schools and collapses from giant, endowment heavy universities. LSU ended up winning the whole thing pretty handily as they had the number 1 and number 2 draft picks in this MLB Draft, but not without its hiccups and battles on the road to their defeat of Florida University. With transfer student being able to move more easily between schools, the MLB Draft lessening the amount of rounds they have to 20, collegiate baseball is going to be a lot more competitive and therefore a lot more entertaining. 

While you most likely missed the College Baseball World Series. You still have a shot to catch cricket and disc golf. I highly recommend that you do. There’s only so many times that the Red Sox can break your heart, mend it with a disc golf ace from behind a giant elm tree.

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also in issue Featured Columns lifestyle

420 in the 508

Eric Casey

Back in 2016 when Bay State voters passed Question 4 to legalize marijuana, the initiative contained a unique provision that had not been tried in states that had previously legalized weed: the inclusion of licensed “social consumption” businesses where adults would be able to purchase and consume weed, much like one does with beer at a bar.

While Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana over six years ago, there’s still no licensed consumption spaces in Massachusetts. A number of complicating factors have contributed to this delay, but it now seems like state-licensed cannabis cafes and lounges are on the horizon, as the Cannabis Control Commission has started the process of creating regulations to govern these businesses. 

The long wait has been frustrating for prospective cannabis cafe owners, but that hasn’t stopped one or two crafty entrepreneurs from finding creative ways to open up spaces where people can smoke weed. The best known example of this new type of business is The Summit Lounge (116 Water St, Worcester), which is a private, bring-your-own-cannabis club. By not selling weed on-site and utilizing local laws that allow for smoking in businesses that operate via private memberships, Summit was able to open without having to wait for the state to issue licenses.

The lounge quickly became a staple of the local cannabis culture shortly after opening in 2018, making it the perfect location for a recent networking and brainstorming event for locals who are interested in starting social consumption businesses of their own. The meeting drew a number of people from cannabis activist, entrepreneur and media circles.

A handful of jurisdictions around the world currently offer licenses allowing for the sale of weed meant to be consumed on-site, but only a few of these cafes and lounges have managed to make these spots both fun and profitable.

There’s still a lot to figure out. Are these basically bars for weed, where people go with the primary goal of consuming? Or will they be more like conventional entertainment venues that also happen to have a license to allow on-site consumption and sales, like a bowling alley or comedy club? 

The goal of this get-together was to attempt to hash some of these details out. The event’s organizer, Ethan Vogt, was hopeful that this meeting of the minds would help business owners come up with creative ideas for business that include cannabis consumption.

“I imagine that the cannabis being consumed is sometimes the focus of the event, but other times people are gathering in these new social consumption spaces for many of the same reasons we go to bars, cafes, yoga studios, libraries, museums, theaters or gyms,” he said.

While it’s important that people’s business plans for social consumption businesses are well thought out, everyone noted that it’s even more critical that the Commission enacts regulations that allow these businesses to succeed.

Past proposals by the Commission included one rule that would strictly cap the amount of cannabis a person could be served. Another rule would have banned indoor smoking. These are just two examples of strict regulations that many activists say would doom cannabis lounges to failure. 

There’s a lot at stake here, as these licenses have been set aside for participants in the state’s social equity program, which helps people who have been harmed by the War on Drugs find a pathway into the legal cannabis industry. 

If these consumption businesses are a hit, they could play a meaningful role in rectifying the harm caused by decades of marijuana prohibition… while also supplying us all with a fun place to go smoke weed. 

That’s a win-win!

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also in issue dining Featured Posts

New in the Woo: Trackside Tavern

541 West Boylston Street, Worcester

tracksidetavernworcester.com

Jenny Pacillo

A couple months ago, my friend Alana and I were stumped on where to grab a drink and bite. We wanted to stay close to our houses in Burncoat, and decided to try out the Trackside Tavern on West Boylston Street. We were quickly greeted by a bartender who treated us like old friends, had a great dinner and ended up chatting with everybody else in the bar. When we left, we both agreed that Trackside was our new favorite spot.

The Trackside Tavern is already well established even though they opened less than six months ago in February 2023. I was more than happy to speak with owner Kate Shaw about this new addition to the Greendale neighborhood. “It’s been amazing. Our customers are awesome and our employees are fantastic. They really make the place what it is,” Shaw says. 

Although Shaw works in the finance industry by day, she is no stranger to the service industry. She and her husband Izzy Cruz also own the Press Box on Lincoln Street, which is another great spot. Shaw is proud of the welcoming atmosphere at both bars, but focused on Trackside, saying, “We want everyone, regardless of who you are, to come in, have fun. People come in and have a good time. They feel safe and comfortable being here and enjoy the good service, good atmosphere, good vibes and good people.”

Shaw is quick to shine the spotlight on the staff at the Trackside, including head chef and manager Nicole Guastella. “She is the mastermind behind the menu. She’s fantastic,” Shaw smiles, “She’s been in the industry and worked with us at the Press Box. When we opened this place we asked her to come over, and she runs it for us during the day. She takes care of everything and came up with our menu. The recipes are hers and it’s just fantastic, she does a great job.”

Guastella makes five different homemade hummus flavors in house: roasted red pepper, cilantro jalapeno, chipotle, black bean and classic. I can personally vouch for the burgers, and the Sunday brunch menu is also a must see. When Alana and I visited, we split nachos, the classic hummus plate with veggies and naan and authentic empanadas, all of which were great. 

Aside from classic pub food, the Trackside Tavern has live entertainment, including karaoke every Thursday, you can easily stay up to speed on events @tracksidetavernworcester on Instagram. Definitely check out Trackside, it’s the perfect spot to grab a bite, have a drink and even make new friends.

Open every day at 11am 

Kitchen Hours:

Sunday 10AM – 6PM

Monday through Saturday 12PM – 9PM