also in issue dining Featured Posts lifestyle

Dad’s Keto Kitchen

LuAnn Thibobeau

I have to admit that when I received the assignment to write about Dad’s Keto Kitchen, I was equal parts intrigued and leery. The most I knew about Keto was mostly that sugar and gluten were not a part of it. And that, in and of itself, was scary to me, because I love both. Plus any time I’ve had food that didn’t contain at least one of those ingredients, it tasted like cardboard. 

I put my hesitations aside and  reached out to Christian Leatham, owner of Dad’s Keto, and had the opportunity to talk to him on the phone. Leatham gave me the background on his business, which he started in May 2019. He told me that his motivation was his personal health, he was overweight and suffered from sleep apnea. Leatham did his research into the Keto lifestyle, and not only became someone who follows, but he also became a certified Keto and Carnivore coach. The Keto diet usually does not include meat, but a Keto-vore diet does. 

The concept behind Keto is really pretty simple: cut out carbs, forcing your body to use fats as its fuel. This had many beneficial effects, weight loss, lowering of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and higher energy levels, just to name a few. And Christian is the perfect success story, he has indeed lost a lot of weight, no longer has sleep apnea, and he even has the energy to run half marathons!!  

Well, all of that sounded great to me, but being somewhat of a skeptical person, I still wasn’t convinced that the food wouldn’t taste like cardboard. That notion changed when I visited Dad’s Keto Kitchen and Bakery, located at 119 Shrewsbury Street in Worcester. Leatham opened this store in October of 2022, and the place is beautiful. It showcases some of the foods offered and the dessert presentation looked amazing, so I decided to give the red velvet cake a try. I waited until I got home, and I have to say- it’s great! No cardboard taste and I didn’t even realize that there was no sugar in it. So kudos to Christia!

The store is not the only part of the business. Leatham has a menu that changes every week. Folks can check out the new menu online, and place orders to be picked up or delivered every Thursday to enjoy the whole week long. Dad’s delivers to 49 area cities and towns, up from only 3 when he started the business in 2019. 

My final thoughts? Get healthy with Dad’s Keto Kitchen. They have a menu of items to choose from, which means no grocery shopping for ingredients and then spending hours cooking. Great tasting food without a sinkful of dishes sounds like a win/win situation. If you want to learn even more, check out the website at, where you can place your order, or stop into the store, which is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. Christian is always there to discuss the world of Keto with you, and to answer any questions. 

architecture Featured Columns

Union Station’s Past and Present

Vincent Pacifico

The two iconic towers that stand in Washington Square are well known by most and can be seen from many locations in the city. Perhaps one of the best views is driving on interstate 290 West and looking down at them from a bird eye view. Worcester’s famous Union Station has been a prized piece of architecture for a century and will continue to be for many years to come.

What we know as Union Station today, the place where we jump on the commuter rail to head to Boston for the day was not always how it was, or even where it was. The train station that stands today is more than a century old but is not in fact the original station that served the city in the 19th century. The original Union Station was built in 1875 featuring a Gothic Revival style and was located just east of today’s station where Interstate 290 is currently situated. The building featured a large train shed which covered the tracks and rail cars along with a single clock tower which rose over the city 212 feet. The station served the city with various lines up until the early 20th century when it was demolished to make way for a new station with elevated rail lines that would cause much less traffic on the street level.

In 1911 the new Union Station was built. It featured a beautiful terra cotta faced facade designed in the French-Renaissance style along with two towers, each 175 feet tall clad with marble. The building was tastefully accented with ornamentation, arches and ionic style columns. During Worcester’s heyday the station was busy and had up to 140 passenger trains going in and out daily. Due to the materials used to build the two towers, the vibrations of all of the trains coming and going led to structural weakening of the towers, therefore they had to be removed in 1926 taking away much of the building’s charm. 

Common of many railroad stations around the country, after World War II, there was a decline in the use of Union Station and the building was left abandoned in 1974. The station sat empty until 1995 when the Worcester Redevelopment Authority acquired the building and completely renovated it. The two towers were rebuilt with new innovative materials that could better withstand the vibrations from the rail lines along with the interior being restored to what it had originally looked like. New windows and interior finish work was completed to give the building the same beautiful look it once had. The grandhall space today is still one of the most stunning rooms in the city and it is commonly used for events due to its elaborate aesthetic and its ability to hold large crowds.

The train station today does not get nearly as much traffic as it once did in the 20th century. Your destinations are definitely limited but you can still easily take the commuter rail towards Boston for an enjoyable commute. Even if you’re not taking the train, it’s still worth walking through the front doors and admiring the space inside. Besides the waiting platform, there is a restaurant on the ground floor and a convenient parking garage located in the rear. Over the years Union Station has risen and fallen a few times, it’s changed locations and has been left completely abandoned, however the beauty we all love from the original design has definitely been recreated and better developed for the city’s new fleet of incoming trains.

also in issue Featured Posts

New in the Woo – Boland’s Bar and Patio

Jennifer Russo

Who doesn’t love an Irish Pub?  A casual place to go grab a pint with friends, listen to some live music, and take in the overall welcoming and unpretentious vibe.  Even better when the bar is owned by a real Irishman and his Irish partners who all know what an Irish pub should look and feel like.

Starting with the name, Boland’s itself is named after Tobias Boland, an Irish immigrant who came to the United States in 1825 and is credited with building the Blackstone Canal connecting Worcester and Providence, as well as one of the buildings of Holy Cross college, among other landmarks. His portrait profile, maps of the railroad, and news article excerpts about Canal Transportation adorn the wall in a thoughtful mural. 

The grand opening event on February 4th packed the bar, which was buzzing with excitement from the moment the doors opened to when they closed for the night.  A formal ribbon cutting ceremony took place with Worcester’s Mayor Petty in attendance (who later enjoyed a pint with Dublin-born owner Stephen “Shuggy” Porter and some patrons).  

“Our goal here at Boland’s is to connect with the neighborhood in a genuinely nice way. Hopefully a local bar that people would feel comfortable to frequent,” says Porter. “We want to encourage all our patrons to make new friends and enjoy themselves along the way. Of course, being Irish helps us connect with the Irish around here – they have been so supportive. I knew there was some Irish history and Irish Americans here but had no idea how much and how many!”

It seemed the whole of Worcester stopped in to check out the new watering hole.  A sunflower bouquet with a “Congratulations” balloon drifted on the edge of the dark wood bar, adding to the warm and cozy atmosphere that was in direct contrast to the cold outside.  

“We’ve really gotten to know the owners and it’s such a fun, friendly spot – great for music with the patio outside in warmer months,” say Chris and Pam Stone, owners of Vintage Pizza.  “These owners just get it. It’s authentic – it has what people want when they go to an Irish pub.  Familiar faces, not cliquey, just a relaxing place to be with friends.”

Smiling bartenders kept pace with orders of Guinness from the centerpiece of the bar – a signature harp-shaped tap, among other local brews such as Bay State Brewing and Penny Pinchers, and festive libations like an innovative Negroni made with Dingle award-winning Irish gin. There was even a delicious looking mule cocktail made with West Cork Bourbon Cask.

“This is definitely the new hidden, or not so hidden, gem in Worcester,” says patron Amy Santom.  “There is great music and it’s a perfect environment with welcoming staff and happy faces.

The bar will have entertainment most weekends and does plan to have some trivia nights soon enough.

“I went here back when it was Rock Bar and the Blackstone Tap before that, so I am really excited that they put something great here,” says Kristen Hershey, who was there with her husband Mike. “It’s so low-key and comfortable – perfect for someone in their 40s, but excellent for the younger crowd too.  We live pretty close and it’s an uphill walk, but totally worth it and so convenient. I expect we will be here quite a bit.”

The acoustics in the space are perfect for both crowds and live music.  Even though the bar was packed to the brim, you could enjoy the entertainment and somehow still hear the person next to you.  Speaking of entertainment, opening day featured the talented Chris Reddy on the guitar with guests singing along and later in the evening On the Rocks took the stage and inspired people to rock out even more. The bar inspires people to introduce themselves and talk. It will never be a sports bar filled with TVs, which is intentional.

“All I could ever want is a beautiful place like this where people can just come and not be glued to their phone or a screen.  Come here to have a great time and great conversation (aka craic) and have fun after a rough day at work.  You’ll always be greeted with a smile and be welcomed here. This is why I love my job,” says bartender Mary.

Boland’s is of course looking forward to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th

“We have been warned to do our stretches to get ready for all the Guinness pouring that day – so we promise to be on our marks.  Feel free to swing by for some pints and some banter!” says Shuggy. 

Boland’s Irish Pub is located at 81 Water Street and is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights.  Be sure to stop in and check it out as it promises to be the next hot spot on the hill.

Featured Columns lifestyle

Why Drag Story Time Matters 

Giuliano D’Orazio

Greetings Queer Worcester [and beyond] – I want to talk about something that shouldn’t even be up for debate: drag story time events. As you’ve probably heard, such events feature drag performers reading inclusive, affirming children’s books to kids. It’s a fun and positive way to introduce children to diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance. But unfortunately, right-wing attacks on these events have been increasing. While these events certainly deliver laughs and lighthearted fun, they’re also important opportunities for fostering feelings of belonging amongst queer youth and families. Full disclosure – I serve on the board of the queer-youth-serving organization, Love Your Labels, and we run a popular drag story time event here in Worcester in partnership with Redemption Rock Brewing Co. 

Let me be frank: drag story time events are totally harmless to children. In fact, they’re beneficial. According to research, exposing children to diverse identities from an early age can have a positive impact on their attitudes towards different groups, and can even reduce prejudice later in life. Drag story time events help to normalize diverse identities, and make it clear that it’s okay to be one’s authentic self. Plus, they’re just fun! Who doesn’t love a cute story and a few sparkles? Every single drag story time I’ve attended has been filled with nothing but pure joy and family fun. 

Unsurprisingly, some right-wing politicians and groups have taken issue with drag story time events. Legislation to ban or restrict them has been introduced in at least eight states, with more bills being drafted in other states (2). These attacks are super harmful because they perpetuate the bigoted belief that exposing kids to LGBTQ+ identities is inappropriate. They send the message that queer identity is something to be ashamed of, hidden away, and kept from children. What message does this send to the young queer kid facing bullying at school? Or a child of gay parents? Attacks on these story times only increase shame and embolden bullies. 

These attacks have a direct impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. Queer kids already face higher rates of bullying, harassment, and discrimination, and these attacks on drag story time events only add to that. They create a hostile environment that can make queer youth feel unsafe and unwelcome. According to the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth, laws like these can increase feelings of isolation and decrease a young person’s sense of self-worth. 

The fact is, drag story time events are an exercise of artistic and creative expression that should be free from government suppression. They are not sexualized, nor are they meant to be. The performers are simply reading books and having fun with the kids. As New York drag performer Lady Bunny pointed out, parents of schoolchildren who don’t like it don’t have to attend them. 

The recent scourge of attacks on drag story time events are not only misguided, but they are also harmful. They perpetuate bigoted beliefs, create a hostile environment for queer youth, and attempt to erase queer identity. Locally, we need to decide what kind of a community we want to be – one that celebrates and uplifts people of all identities, or one that seeks to shame and marginalize those who may not ascribe to “traditional” forms of gender expression. Let’s continue to promote events like drag story time, stand up against hateful rhetoric wherever we see it, and encourage our local politicians to do the same. Let’s help create a world where everyone can be themselves without fear of discrimination or hatred. 

also in issue Featured Posts sports&fitness

Al Pettway

Taylor Nunez-Murray

Al Pettway’s charisma and positivity radiates when he walks into a room, combine this natural leadership with his long history with the game, it is unsurprising to see Pettway’s coaching and leadership lead North High towards a championship. A Bridgeport, Connecticut native, Pettway gravitated towards basketball around age 12, inspired after seeing a close relative play in a YMCA league. “I said, ‘Wow, this looks pretty interesting. I want to play this game.’ [My cousin] is the reason I picked up the basketball.”

Fast forward a few years, Pettway played under Coach Moore at WSU, becoming an all time leading scorer with 2,200+ points and eventually inducted into WSU’s Hall of Fame in 2000. Prior to graduating with an undergraduate degree from WSU, Coach Moore connected Pettway with former Worcester Academy basketball coach Tom Blackburn, and Pettway’s coaching career began. In addition to Worcester Academy, Pettway would eventually coach at his alma mater WSU and Assumption college before arriving at North High School in the 2002-2003 academic year. 

Pettway, a former adjustment counselor and current Dean of Students at North High, relates and connects to his players on and off the court. Like some of his players, Pettway was raised by a single mother in an inner city, and his family often met financial challenges. “I tell the kids all the time: I grew up without a father figure in my life. My mom struggled to get basic needs to survive. We struggled to get food, clothing, paying rent, etc. etc. So I do see myself in their shoes, and I can relate to some of the stuff [they go through],” Pettway explains.

A parent to two athletes, Pettway more than fulfills a father figure role along with being a coach. Though he has a keen understanding of the trials and challenges students may face off the court, he insists players leave it at the door when it’s time to play basketball. “I do tell them this, and this is probably hard for them, we all have something in our backpack. We all have stuff in our personal lives, including the coaches, but we don’t bring that into the gym.” Pettway urges his players to use the two and a half hours playing basketball in the gym as a way to distance themselves from the outside noise. “After practice, if there is something we need to talk about, we can. If for two hours you can give me your attention and focus on basketball – what you enjoy – and use that as a distraction… anything else, we can talk about it after practice” Pettway affirms.

Though Pettway is known and praised for his coaching abilities, he is quick to note that the current team has been easy as a coach. Most of North High’s boys’ team grew up playing together, coached by the same coaches, and they understand how to play with one another to achieve success. “Throw them on the court… They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m an extension of what they already created,” Pettway insists. Though, it is hard to deny Pettway’s influence on the team, a coach who openly shares with his players that he gladly will step into a parental figure role in their lives when they need it most. “[I tell them] I will treat you like my own child. I will discipline you like my own child. I will love you as my own child… You have somebody that cares about you.”

Now in his 20th season with the North High Polar Bears, Pettway leads the team towards a championship, with high hopes that this is the team that will bring Worcester Public Schools its first Division 1 championship in the district’s history. After an emotionally challenging year for North High, most recently the loss of Al Jenkins, an instructional assistant and beloved basketball coach in the Worcester community, Pettway pushes forward with his team. “We need some smiles. We need some glory, for [all of] 508. We need something to be excited about, to celebrate.”

also in issue Featured Columns lifestyle

Style Savvy

April Goddard

Hello Pulse readers and happy Spring! We are deep in the middle of the season at this point, and are getting to witness all of the beautiful things that come along with it; The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the joyful moods and colors of spring are in the air. I love this time of year, because by this point it is safe to say that we can all officially come out of our winter hibernation and step into the sun (literally). That means it’s time to pack away the coats, hats, and sweaters of winter in favor of some lighter pieces to match the season. This season will see fashion trends massively influenced by the late 90’s and the Y2K era. As a millennial, I must say I am totally here for it. So if you want to learn my prediction for the top 5 trends that will be here to stay this spring, keep on reading!

  1. French Manicure: This was out for so long in favor of nudes, neutrals, and solid nail colors. Now we are seeing the french manicure making a comeback in a major way this spring. There are many modern variations of this nail trend; You can do a thin, thick, or medium mani, or maybe a glossed or donut-glazed one. One thing that is totally here to stay in the sleek almond shaped nail, which can be paired perfectly with this style. Another option for the die-hard Y2K fans-a short and square manicure.
  2. Loose Jeans: I can one hundred percent say that I do not foresee skinny jeans coming back into fashion any time soon. Largely influenced by the comfort athletic sweatpants that we were all sporting during the pandemic, the loose fitting jean is also a brushed up and modern play on the styles that we saw back in the 90’s, combined with the low-rise relaxed fit of the Y2K.
  3. Claw Clips: Claw clip hair accessories are hardly a new thing, but have become a big trend over the last year. The claw clip can enable you to style long or short hair in a variety of ways, and there are plenty of variations for different hair lengths and colors. Once a trend left back in the 90’s is now a great (and easy) way to look polished and keep your hair out of your face as the weather warms.
  4. Uggs and Other Shearling Footwear: Now I know that I just finished saying that we were putting away winter attire. But hear me out-there are so many different styles and colors of this shearling favorite that many are choosing to carry this footwear into the spring and even summer months paired with skirts, shorts, or distressed denim. Not to mention, they are super comfy.
  5. Track Suits: I really really cannot believe my own eyes as I am typing this, but here it goes-the track suit is back. I know you’re probably thinking Yup, it’s been back. But no-I mean the every shade of the rainbow-colored, velour, matching top and bottoms,  low-rise, Y2K everyone had one tracksuit. Now, if velour is not your cup of tea, I get it. Stick with cotton-based sports tracksuits and pair with a cute pair of sneakers.