August 30, 2017
40 Under Forty: Behind the scenes

40u40: The phantom diners at deadhorse hill

Erika Sidor
At deadhorse hill in Worcester are 40 Under Forty winners (from left) Julia Randall, M.D., Jamie Salois, Hilary Gardner and Ashleigh C. Gelinas, Esq.

This is the third in a series of 11 stories describing the photos behind this year's 40 Under Forty awards, where rather than shooting all the images in one location, WBJ took the winners to 11 properties around Worcester, showcasing the new developments of a city on the rise. Click here to read part 1 about the Burns Bridge and part 2 about public murals.

"What do you mean they were already there?!? The winners weren't supposed to arrive until 2 p.m."

I immediately broke into a cold sweat on July 20 when 40 Under Forty photographer Erika Sidor called me from Worcester restaurant deadhorse hill, saying the management was telling her the four winners for that afternoon's photo shoot (Julia Randall, Jamie Salois, Hilary Gardner and Ashleigh Gelinas) had already come and gone.

Erika Sidor
Looking natural while eating and drinking and getting your picture taken is not easy, especially while trying to avoid having food in your mouth while the photos are taken. Team deadhorse hill was up to the challenge.

Putting together photo shoots with 40 winners across 11 locations throughout the city over three days is a careful coordination of the schedules of about 60 people (the winners, the photographer, myself and the people operating the various establishments at the locations), somewhat akin to cracking the nuclear codes. If the members of Team deadhorse hill had decided to go early to the restaurant for their lunch (paid for by WBJ) and not gotten their photos taken, it would have been a nightmare trying to line everything up all over again.

Immediately after Sidor called me to say the deadhorse hill management was telling her the photo shoot had already happened, I jumped in my car to speed over to the restaurant, while furiously calling Gardner, Randall, Salois and Gelinas to see what was happening. One-by-one, each of the winners told me they had not shown up early and were still planning on the 2 p.m. arrival.

Further puzzled, I arrived at the restaurant, where Co-owner Sean Woods told me a group of people saying they were with WBJ arrived around noon, had a photographer take pictures of them and ran up a $150 tab (it was never made clear to me if they had paid the tab.) So, when the actually 40u40 winners started trickling in, I and the deadhorse hill staff were in shock.

Luckily, after some initial hesitation and puzzlement over what had actually happened earlier in the day, the deadhorse staff was very accommodating of us basically taking over the restaurant over nearly two hours, getting photos at the tables, the bar and outside, running up a $250 tab of our own, which WBJ paid.

Erika Sidor
Of the many restaurants in Worcester, we picked deadhorse hill because of how it represents the new wave of Worcester dining and creates a destination right on Main Street.

I still wonder what was the cause of the phantom diners earlier than day. Only about eight people knew we were coming; what were the odds another group with a photographer would show up at deadhorse for lunch? Did someone hack WBJ's email and figure they could get a free lunch out of it? Had a group shown up and the friendly staff at deadhorse just assumed it was the 40u40 winners?

The situation has created more questions than answers, but – regardless – deadhorse hill was more than accommodating for us to get our photos, apparently after having a dry run earlier that day.

- Brad Kane, editor

Meet the entire WBJ 40 Under Forty Class of 2017

Asmar N. Akman – Akman Enterprises Inc.

Brendan Aylward – Unified Health and Performance

Greta Bajrami Campoverde – Golden Group Construction Corp.

Kathryn Behan – UMass Memorial Healthcare

Heather Belair – Bay State Savings Bank

Neil Callahan – R.H. White Construction

Michelle L. Cote, Esq. – Law Offices of Richard S. Ravosa

Julianne Dahrooge – Chan & Dahrooge Financial Group, LLC

Patrick J. DiGregorio – Veterans Inc.

Justin Dufresne – VHB, Inc.

Courtney Ross Escobar – Doucette & LaRose, LLC

Robert Fecteau – BirchTree Bread Co.

Hilary Gardner – The Davis Cos.

Ashleigh C. Gelinas, Esq. – Gelinas & Ward, LLP

Avra Hoffman – BirchTree Bread Co.

Maryann C. Johnson – Oak Hill CDC

Kevin G. Johnson – O'Connor, Maloney & Company, P.C.

Heather Mangione – United Way of Central Massachusetts

Jay Merrill – Clifford & Rano Associates

Meghan E. Montaner – The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Edward Murphy – Baystate Investment Fund

Joy Rachelle Murrieta – Main IDEA

Dr. Milka Njoroge, PharmD – Century Homecare, LLC

Jim Notaro – Fidelity Bank

Andrew B. Palumbo – Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Kevin Peterssen – United Bank

John T. Pitcavage – Endless Energy

Julia Randall, M.D. – Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center

Keith Reardon – Commonwealth Consulting Group, LLC

Giselle Rivera-Flores – The Learning Hub & IgWorcesterMA

Patrick T. Royce – UniBank

Jamie Salois – Atlas Distributing

Lindiana Semidei – Raices Latin Dance

Jody Staruk – Consigli Construction Co., Inc.

Francisco Torres – Town of Westborough

Abel Travis – Hanover Insurance Group

Elizabeth Tripp – Hanover Insurance Group

Alexis G. Vallejos – Columbia Tech

David Viens – Bowditch & Dewey, LLP

Ryan A. Wagner – Robert Fine & Associates

Meet this year's judges

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