December 25, 2017
Economic Forecast 2018

Food, beer and sports will dominate Central Massachusetts' hospitality industry

TreeHouse Brewing Co. in Charlton regularly has hours-long lines for its beer.

This past year was huge for the Worcester restaurant, entertainment and hospitality scene, with exciting announcements and openings.

The city has become a culinary and cultural hotspot, and with more restaurants, breweries and entertainment businesses looking to move to the area. As real estate prices and cost of living continue to price out residents and businesses in Greater Boston, more establishments will come to Worcester.

The thriving Worcester culinary scene will carry through 2018

Although some Worcester restaurants closed this year, like Sweet, The Chameleon and Sweetpea, others took their place or will do so sometime next year. New restaurants have already been announced for the new year, like deadhorse hill's simjang.

(From left) Sean Woods, Jared Forman, Bert LaValley, co-owners of deadhorse hill in downtown Worcester, plan to open Korean restaurant simjang on Shrewsbury Street.

Front Street and the mutli-phased $564-million City Square development should add yet another destination for eateries, with 110 Grill, which is already operating locations and is planning more in Central Massachusetts, and Protein House slated for opening in 2018.

Hanover Theatre's 1920's themed restaurant Josephine's could help liven up the stretch of downtown with yet another great place to eat.

Adam Hicks, owner of Milford's Depot Street Tavern, will open a second location in the Perfect Game's old spot in the Canal District in April.

It seems as if a new restaurant announces it's coming to the city nearly every month, so 2018 should be yet another huge year for the city's food game.

Worcester's professional sports teams will thrive

It's hard to deny the impact that the Worcester Railers have had on the city. Right off the highway is the Railers Tavern and the $18-million, 110,000-square-foot Worcester Ice Arena – the team's practice facility – is a good sign owner Cliff Rucker intends to keep hockey in Worcester for a long time.

Cliff Rucker

At the DCU Center, the Massachusetts Pirates will begin play in the National Arena League at the DCU Center in April. The football team might have a rough time competing for football fans in New England, but an arena football game in Downtown Worcester could make for a fun Saturday night.

In the Canal District, the city is making headway in relocating the Pawtucket Red Sox to a vacant piece of land in the Canal District.

A PawSox move – and inevitably massive contribution from the city and state – would only add to the Canal District's transformation from a college bar hotspot to a booming family-oriented restaurant and business neighborhood.

The Central Massachusetts craft beer scene will continue its rapid growth

Craft beer has taken hold in Central Massachusetts. Nearly every area of the region has at least one craft brewery to visit, and more should come.

Timber Yard Brewing in East Brookfield has yet to open, as well as Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co., which is planning a facility on Millbrook Street in Worcester.

The creativity and collaboration among these small brewers has been incredible to watch and write about, and the industry has settled in nicely with the local business movement, evidenced by Wormtown Brewery's collaboration with Dunkin Donuts and Table Talk Pies.

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