January 9, 2017
WBJ 2017 Best of Business

Best Food for 2017

BirchTree Bread Company Co-owner Avra Hoffman

BEST LOCALLY OWNED PLACE TO MEET FOR COFFEE

BirchTree Bread Company

Worcester, www.birchtreebreadcompany.com

Top executives: Co-owners Robert Fecteau and Avra Hoffman

Founded: 2014

Employees: 26

BirchTree uses local, wholesome ingredients to create its products and differentiates itself by creating a community atmosphere where people feel at home, offering live music and continuously changing artwork.

Notable runners-up: InHouse Coffee, NU Cafe & Juice Bar

BEST RESTAURANT FOR BUSINESS LUNCH

The Sole Proprietor*

Worcester, www.TheSole.com

Top executives: Robbin & Madeleine Ahlquist

Founded: 1979

Employees: 110

Hospitality and freshness are hallmarks that have made The Sole a Worcester institution, with customers served by two wait staff. Chefs are encouraged to make memorable meals out of the freshest fish, all served in an elegant setting.

Notable runners-up: VIA Italian Table, Boynton Restaurant & Spirits, Mezcal Tequila Cantina, O'Connor's Restaurant & Bar

BEST RESTAURANT FOR BUSINESS DINNER

111 Chop House*

Worcester, www.111ChopHouse.com

Top executives: Robbin & Madeleine Ahlquist

Founded: 1999

Employees: 110

Its fourth consecutive year winning this award, 111 strives to offer the big-city steakhouse experience without the big-city prices, using hand-selected steaks and a wine list that has received the "Wine Spectator" Award of Excellence.

Notable runners-up: deadhorse hill, Ceres Bistro, Bocado Tapas Wine Bar, Willy's Steakhouse Grill & Sushi Bar

BEST WORCESTER AFTER-WORK BAR

Armsby Abbey*

Worcester, www.armsbyabbey.com

Top executive: Executive Chef Damian Evangelous

Founded: 2008

Employees: 45

The pioneer of craft beer and farm-to-table cuisine in Worcester, Armsby Abbey puts time and effort into all of its services, including sustainably sourcing its menu, intensive staff training and an elaborate beer selection and cocktail program.

Notable runners-up: Nicks, Ralph's Rock Diner

BEST METROWEST AFTER-WORK BAR

Tavern in the Square*

Northborough, www.taverninthesquare.com

Top executive: CEO Stephen Desousa

Founded: 2014

Employees: 75

Tavern in the Square sets itself apart by being more than the typical sports bar and offering a full-service restaurant with a sizable bar and patio, coupled with a casual atmosphere adapted to fit the Northborough community.

Notable runners-up: Not Your Average Joe's, Jack's Abby Craft Lager

BEST NORTH COUNTY AFTER-WORK BAR

Rye & Thyme American Tavern*

Leominster, ryeandthyme.com

Top executive: Joshua Longtin, director of operations

Founded: 2012

Employees: 30

Rye & Thyme features a raw bar with local shellfish and a signature wood grill used for pizzas, steaks, seafood, chops and burgers. Its beverage program offers American-made spirits, wine and a rotating beer list.

Notable runners-up: Slattery's Restaurant, Clinton Bar & Grille

BEST BLACKSTONE VALLEY AFTER-WORK BAR

Gray Barn

Whitinsville

Top executive: President John H. Mellor

Founded: 1965

Employees: 6

In its third generation of owner and 52nd year, the Gray Barn strives to set itself apart by offering fun activities almost every night, coupled with a knowledgeable and friendly bartending staff.

Notable runners-up: Kyoto Bar & Grill, Feng Asian Bistro & Hibachi

BEST TRI-AREA AFTER-WORK BAR

Cedar Street Grille*

Sturbridge, www.cedarstreetgrille.com

Top executive: CEO Michael Lyons

Founded: 2011

Employees: 40

Cedar Street prides itself on its neighborhood atmosphere, creative cocktails and an approachable scratch kitchen menu featuring small places, seasonal entrees and house-made desserts. The bar and restaurant layout is designed to encourage a comfortable, sharing atmosphere.

Notable runners-up: Rovezzi's Ristorante, Eighty Ates Bar & Grille

BEST COFFEE SERVICE

Good As Gold Coffee*

Worcester, Goodasgold.com

Top executive: President Patrice Goldman

Founded: 1969

Employees: 14

One of the last family-owned coffee services in Massachusetts, Good as Gold combines good-tasting coffee with fair pricing, along with an intense desire to always be better.

BEST CATERER FOR A CORPORATE EVENT

Peppers Artful Events

Northborough, www.pepperscatering.com

Top executives: President Susan Lawrence and Catering Director John Lawrence

Founded: 1987

Employees: 149

Peppers seeks to go above and beyond its customers' expectations by focusing on artful presentations of everything from the meals to the event decor, coupled with attentive staff and all underlined by delicious food. All the elements, from top to bottom, are designed to meet clients' visions for events.

Notable runner-up: Struck Catering

*denotes repeat winner

Click below to see the other 2017 WBJ Best of Business winners

BEST CLIENT & EMPLOYEE SERVICES

  • BEST COLLEGE FOR BUSINESS EDUCATION - Nichols College*
  • BEST EXERCISE FACILITY/FITNESS CENTER - The Fitness Asylum*
  • BEST LUXURY AUTOMOBILE DEALERSHIP - Wagner Auto Group*
  • BEST LIMOUSINE SERVICE - Knight's Airport Limousine Inc.*
  • BEST HOTEL FOR BUSINESS CLIENTS - Beechwood Hotel*
  • BEST NONPROFIT FUNDRAISER EVENT - Notre Dame Health Care Educational Forum

BEST MULTIMEDIA SERVICES

  • BEST VIDEO PRODUCTION - Pagano Media
  • BEST AWARDS & PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS - Engraveables*
  • BEST COMMERCIAL PRINTER - Curry Printing*
  • BEST IT SERVICES - Machado Consulting
  • BEST INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER - Spectrum Enterprise*
  • BEST WEB DESIGN FIRM - Pagano Media*

BEST OFFICE SERVICES

  • BEST TRUCK DEALERSHIP - Harr Motor Co.*
  • BEST COMMERCIAL LANDSCAPER - Leone's Landscaping & Construction
  • BEST ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR - Coghlin Electrical Contractors Inc.*
  • BEST PLUMBER/HVAC CONTRACTOR - J.J. Bafaro, Inc.*
  • BEST WASTE REMOVAL - E.L. Harvey & Sons, Inc.
  • BEST OFFICE CLEANING - Eagle Cleaning Corp.

BEST OFFSITE VENUES

  • BEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSE - Green Hill Golf Course*
  • BEST PRIVATE GOLF COURSE - Worcester Country Club*
  • BEST GOLF CLUB FOR CORPORATE OUTING - Cyprian Keyes Golf Club*
  • BEST VENUE FOR A BUSINESS MEETING - Beechwood Hotel*
  • BEST VENUE FOR AN EMPLOYEE OUTING - EcoTarium*
  • BEST VENUE FOR A CORPORATE EVENT - Mechanics Hall*

BEST PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

  • BEST BANK - UniBank*
  • BEST BUSINESS INSURANCE AGENCY - Sullivan Insurance Group*
  • BEST FINANCIAL PLANNING/INVESTMENT SERVICES - Provo Financial Services, Inc.*
  • BEST CREDIT UNION - DCU – Digital Federal Credit Union*
  • BEST HEALTH INSURANCE PROVIDER - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts*
  • BEST EMPLOYEE BENEFITS CONSULTANT - Sullivan Benefits
  • BEST LAW FIRM - Mirick O'Connell*
  • BEST ACCOUNTING FIRM - Bollus Lynch, LLP Certified Public Accountants & Consultants*
  • BEST ADVERTISING AGENCY - PENTA Communications, Inc.*
  • BEST STAFFING AGENCY - The Davis Companies*
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