As development continues and new hotels, apartments, retail shops and recreational facilities continue to rise downtown, Worcester’s restaurant and bar scene is also expanding for visitors and workers.
Worcester has a growing portfolio to use in attracting and retaining local restaurants. More than 100 new dining establishments received permits to operate in the city within the past two years alone. The most recent restaurant boon is clustering around multiple developments, building a mix of hotels, corporate offices, restaurants, retail stores and upscale apartments in the heart of downtown around city hall. Most of those developments are now finished or nearing completion.
Troy Siebels, president and CEO of the nationally-acclaimed Hanover Theatre, recognized the momentum downtown and acquired the 551 Main Street building adjacent to the theatre two years ago. “We did so to have the opportunity to put a first-class restaurant on the ground floor,” said Siebels, adding that the theatre draws more than 200,000 patrons annually, and its new conservatory hosts classes for children and adults six days a week, year-round.
“Having a restaurant next door helps to create the ‘theatre district’ experience; giving visitors the opportunity to park once, go to dinner, to a show, and even back out for a drink or dessert,” he said.
With so many different restaurant experiences to choose from in Worcester, Siebels knew his theater-crowd restaurant experience had to offer something different and should also be connected to the theater’s second floor meeting and function rooms. Set to open this spring, the 140-seat restaurant concept will be based around the roaring 1920s and singer Josephine Baker, led by restaurateur Chris Rassias, owner/operator of the famous Fairmount Grille in Boston.
“We feel it ties in beautifully with our architecturally ornate historic theatre built in the same era,” Siebels said. Menu items will focus on American food with a flair and service that will quickly turn over a full restaurant of diners, as most will be seeking to leave at approximately the same time to catch the show.
A few blocks away, the 170-room AC Marriott Hotel is slated to open downtown this April. Around the same time, the first of 365 residential units will open at the adjacent 145 Front Street apartment complex, part of the City Square development. AC Marriott Hotel will feature a 110 Grill chain that will include a 50-seat outdoor patio with a fire pit on Front Street, and a 6,000-square-foot interior with 180 seats and a large centerpiece U-shaped bar. The 145 Front Street apartment building will feature the healthy-eating restaurant chain, PROTEINHOUSE. A new 5,000-square-foot Fuel America chain Coffeehouse Roastery-Cafe will open in the fall of 2018 in Mercantile Center, also at Front and Mercantile Street. The cafe will roast coffee beans on the premises and serve specialty coffees, espresso drinks, baked goods and sandwiches.
A new beer garden is currently under construction across the city common, neighboring The Grid District’s 538 new apartments that are geared toward the young professional. The Beer Garden is one of several restaurants/bars opening soon on the first floor of The Grid, all being managed by Frank Peace, founder and CEO of Craft Restaurant Concepts. Peace recently celebrated the opening of Stix, an Asian noodle restaurant, at The Grid.
Located around the corner, at 281 Main Street sits Deadhorse Hill Restaurant. An American-style restaurant that is inspired by the New England landscape. Executive Chef Jared Forman uses farmers throughout the Northeast and the fishermen along the coast for his dishes.
The restaurant offers two experiences. During the day, the cafe is open for casual lunches, serving pastries, sandwiches and salads with a walk-in setting. In the evening, the dining room offers a seasonal à la carte and chefs tasting menu, varying based on the availability of ingredients.
The restaurant is located in what used to be the first floor of the Bay State House hotel, which served as the headquarters for the Worcester Automobile Club, who held the historic Dead Horse Hill Climb from 1905-1911. The hotel itself was a prominent location for social, political, and business meetings, likely in part due to its popular restaurant. The restaurant ownership group plans to open a second venture on Shrewsbury Street in the former Sweet Kitchen & Bar location this March.
New development in Worcester is only part of the target audience for these downtown restaurateurs. Other features include:
8 million people living within a 7-5-mile radius of Worcester.
A large airport.
Daily commuter rail roundtrips to and from Boston.
36,000 students spread across nine colleges.
Thousands of weekly visitors to a major downtown convention center and theater district.
A regional daytime worker population numbering around 407,000.
Learn more about Worcester from Discover Central Massachusetts.
Discover Central Massachusetts markets Central Massachusetts as a competitive destination for travel and tourism, conventions, meetings, and events. Worcester, which is located in the center of the region, is the state’s second-largest city, and the second-largest city in New England.