December 24, 2018
Economic Forecast: HOSPITALITY

The hospitality industry will keep the Central Mass. buzz going into 2019

A rendering of the planned Polar Park, which is slated to be home to Boston Red Sox' top affiliate in 2021.

Worcester and the business community has seized on its economic momentum with several new and exciting homegrown restaurants and entertainment options debuting seemingly every month.

Boston-area businesspeople, being driven further west by rising real estate prices, are looking to Worcester to open new establishments. Likewise, the Greater Boston residents are seeking cheaper alternatives in Worcester.

There are now an array of options to spend your entertainment dollar, but that influx may be temporary.

The WooSox will energize the Canal District, but send a team packing

The $101-million ballpark project for the soon-to-be Worcester Red Sox is expected to begin in the summer. Already, Canal District businesses have expressed some cautious optimism about what the project means for their business.

There are already five other sports teams in Worcester, including one other baseball team, the Worcester Bravehearts, a collegiate summer league team.

That team is optimistic about its future in Worcester, but it could be tough competing with the Red Sox brand for baseball fans.

The Worcester Railers, however, seem the most likely to thrive alongside the WooSox, with their practice facility already in the Canal District.

Regardless, the consensus is that most of the Canal District, including the Wyman-Gordon site, is vastly underutilized. Let's just hope the really fun bars and restaurants in the area survive that project.

Worcester will retain its reputation as a food and drink destination

There are so many good dining options in Worcester and surrounding communities it's becoming hard to keep track of all of them.

Worcester restaurateurs are even taking strides to occupy two vacant restaurants hit hard by Kevin Perry's drug money laundering scandal, as Meze Greek Tapas is moving next door to the former Chameleon building on foodie hotspot Shrewsbury Street, and former Blackstone Tap owner Jefferson Mararian is planning a new concept in the Water Street space.

Deadhorse hill, VIA Italian Table, Volturno and a host of others have been Worcester staples. Maddi's Cookery & Taphouse and simjang joined this year. Expect more culinary options to open in 2019.

More beer?

Speaking of Shrewsbury Street, another brewery, Redemption Rock Brewing Co., is planning to open down the street from Wormtown Brewery next year.

The city's other three breweries, Flying Dreams Brewing Co., Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co., 3Cross Fermentation Cooperative, appear to be doing well, as the first just installed a canning line and opened a new taproom in Marlborough.

Worcester is big and thirsty enough to sustain more than five breweries. Others should come poking around, but some data suggests that craft beer growth is leveling off.


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