Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: January 10, 2022 / Best of Business 2022

Best of Business 2022: Food, Drink & Marijuana

Photo | Courtesy of Bud's Goods & Provisions Bud's Goods & Provisions in Worcester

Bud’s Goods & Provisions cannabis dispensary, based in Worcester, has in the last 15 months expanded from one employee to 60, said Founder and CEO Alex Mazin. 

He’s hoping to have more than 100 people on the team by the end of next year.

“Finding good people is the No. 1 job,” Mazin said. “It’s the hardest but most important.”

This is part and parcel to Mazin’s vision for the company, which has since expanded to include a location in Abington, with another on the way for Watertown, slated to open in the first half of 2022.

Unlike many of its competitors, Bud’s is locally owned and founded, and eschews much of the typical green-and-white or green-and-black branding on display at other dispensaries across Massachusetts, opting instead for what Mazin describes as an Americana feel.

“Green was not allowed as a color palette,” Mazin said.

Instead, the red, white, and blue-decked-out shops aim to breathe a fresh, New England-oriented vibe into the state’s still-young cannabis market, one which often defines itself against its longer-running West Coast counterpart. At Bud’s, that manifests in a few different ways, including the flagship store’s location, stationed in what Mazin calls a commercial community environment. Instead of tucked away in an industrial district as many other cannabis shops are, Bud’s reaps the benefits of being near a pocketful of other every-day businesses, like a drugstore, a bank, and a coffee shop.

He finds customers in Worcester stop by while in their normal routines, like after filling up their gas tank or running into a corner store.

This kind of community embedding is something Mazin strives for at Bud’s.

And it’s not a goal that just fell from the sky, either. Having grown up with Worcester and graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in the city, he’s intrinsically familiar with both his customer base and what it’s like to live in the city, itself.

This innate understanding is a driving force behind Mazin’s business decisions.

“If I can’t win at home court advantage, then I’m not good enough,” Mazin said.

With his eyes set on opening the Watertown location and plans to expand wholesale operations, Mazin wants his business to be something his community can be proud of, and that’s what he strives for: residents of the city of Worcester to be grateful they have a Bud’s in town.

-- Story written by Monica Benevides 

* denotes repeat winner

Best Coffee Service

Good As Gold Coffee*

Location: Worcester,
Founded: 1969

The family-owned coffee company offers a variety of services for companies to bring coffee in their offices and breakrooms: by-the-pot brewing, single-cup pods, and nitro cold brew, among others. The company operates custom-built air roasters to produce the most evenly and consistently roasted coffee beans.

Notable runner-up: Acoustic Java

Best Locally Owned Place to Meet for Coffee

In House Coffee

Location: Worcester,
Top executives: Owner John Aldarawcheh, General Manager Yulia Aldarawcheh, Manager Ashleigh Whitney, Manager Alessandra Campos
Founded: 2008

In House prides itself on unwavering high standards for the top quality and freshness of its products, to ensure the best possible experience for every guest, matching each personal taste and desire. In 2019, In House Coffee opened a second location in Northborough, but it closed in October 2021 due to staffing shortages, so In House could make the Worcester location its sole priority.

Notable runners-up: Lost Shoe Brewing and Roasting Co., Bean Counter Bakery Cafe, BirchTree Bread Co.

Best Restaurant for Business Dinner

One Eleven Chop House*

Location: Worcester,
Top executives: Founders Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist, President Caitlyn Carolan, Beverage Director Keith Carolan, and General Manager Aaron Francisco
Founded: 1999
Employees: 77

One Eleven Chop House has long sought to be an independent family-owned restaurant rivaling the best steakhouses in the country, doing so by exceeding customers’ expectations. In 2021, the restaurant’s parent company, Worcester Restaurant Group, promoted a successor to Founders Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist: their daughter Caitlyn Carolan.

Notable runners-up: VIA Italian Table, The Sole Proprietor.

Best Restaurant for Business Lunch

The Sole Proprietor*

Location: Worcester,
Top executives: Founders Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist, President Caitlyn Carolan, Beverage Director Keith Carolan, General Manager Eric Andreoli
Founded: 1979
Employees: 98

The Sole pairs the freshest seafood in the region with a knowledgeable staff designed to give customers an above-and-beyond experience with every meal. Much of the restaurant’s 2021 was navigating the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, including growing its takeout business, providing a safe dining room environment, and adding online ordering.

Notable runners-up: 110 Grill, VIA Italian Table

Best Caterer for a Corporate Event

Struck Catering

Location: Worcester,
Top executives: Founders Barbara Cotter & Derek Grillo
Founded: 1979

Originally an offshoot of Struck Cafe, this catering business is a powerhouse in its own right, renowned for authentic, artisanal food made from local purveyors. In addition, Struck has opened an event planning business to accompany its full-service catering.

Notable runner-up: Peppers Artful Events

Best After-Work Bar

Tavern in the Square

Location: Shrewsbury,
Top executive: CEO Stephen DeSousa
Founded: 2004
Employees: 85 in Shrewsbury and 1,200 throughout the company

With cocktails like Talk Tiki to Me and Nitro Draft Espresso Martini and its famed spiked seltzer towers and margarita towers, Tavern in the Square turns after-work drinks into a lively affairs. The drinks menu is rounded out by plenty of wines, draft and bottled beer, along with an Americana food menu with appetizers like fried pickle chips.

Notable runners-up: Brew City Grill & Brew House, One Eleven Chop House, 110 Grill

Best Cookie Company

The Cookie Lady’s Daughter

Location: Millbury,
Top executive: Owner & Cookier Veronica Adams
Founded: 2018
Employees: 1 (with some help from Veronica’s mom, the original Cookie Lady)

The Cookie Lady’s Daughter strives to inspire connection through cookie decorating, including hand-crafting branded-logo cookies for small businesses, pop-up-and-teach cookie-decorating classes at breweries and wineries, and working with local nonprofits for fundraisers. In 2021, the company and its customers donated more than $5,000 to local nonprofits.

Best Local Brewery

Wormtown Brewery*

Location: Worcester,
Top executive: CEO David Fields
Founded: 2010
Employees: 61

Wormtown partners with local farms, suppliers, distributors, liquor stores, and restaurants to make its as beer successful as possible. In 2021, the brewer opened a two-floor taproom on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, released its Wormtown Craft Hard Seltzer, and continued its partnership with the Worcester Red Sox, which included opening the Wormtown Summit at Polar Park.

Notable runners-up: Tree House Brewing Co., Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co., Redemption Rock Brewing Co.

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


Order a PDF