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January 7, 2019 2019 Best of Business Awards

Best of Business: Places to conduct business

Clearly Coworking has shared spaces for members to use for a variety of functions.

Best Coworking Space

Clearly Coworking Inc.


Top executive: Founder & CEO Rob DelMastro

Founded: 2013

Employees: 3

When Rob DelMastro in 2012 started a consulting firm out of his house, he found a home-based business didn't work for him.

During his career in software, DelMastro always enjoyed being around people, so he found working from home to be isolating. Arranging face-to-face meetings was harder, as was access to technology for presentations.

“I absolutely hated working out of my house,” DelMastro said.

Within a year, he met someone at a seminar in Boston who told him he worked out of a coworking space. It was the first he heard of what was an industry in its infancy, where anyone can have a membership to use small or large spaces short- or long-term, sharing common costs and benefiting from having other workers around.

DelMastro spent the next two years getting his business up and running, including visiting other coworking spaces in the area to see what worked best. By 2015, Clearly Coworking opened its doors at a former funeral home on Grove Street in Worcester. It took DelMastro that long to find the right space, with accessibility and rooms outfitted for smaller offices.

“I saw this place and fell in love with it,” he said.

Clearly Coworking has 150 active members, and their uses are broad, DelMastro said. One uses her space for yoga, while other spaces are used by therapists, attorneys, accountants, a jewelry appraiser, or for businesses conducting off-site interviews.

Members can rent space for an hour or a year, or anywhere in between. Furniture and utilities are included. Some offices are shared by multiple companies splitting the cost.

“A lot of these folks don’t need five or seven days a week,” DelMastro said.

DelMastro said job-market reports have predicted independent workers will make up as much as half of the country’s workforce, and that leaves plenty of opportunity for both coworking giants like WeWork and people like DelMastro, who operate in areas with fewer coworking options.

DelMastro has 6,000 square feet on Grove Street and is looking at options in downtown Worcester to set up shop in a neighborhood adding more residential units in the next few years.

Best Restaurant for Business Dinner

One Eleven Chop House*


Top executives: Co-owners Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist and General Manager Aaron Francisco

Founded: 1999

Employees: 77

The steaks at One Eleven are hand selected and certified prime-grade, its wine list has received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence annually since 2001, and the staff receives ongoing training. In 2018, it introduced Gatherings To-Go Catering for home and office delivery or pick-up.

Notable runners-up: The Sole Proprietor, VIA Italian Table, Sonoma Restaurant, Willy's Steakhouse Grill & Sushi Bar, deadhorse hill

Best New Real Estate Development

Apex Center of New England


Opened: 2017

Developer: RA Ventures, Westford

Top executive: Principal Robert Walker

The $160-million, 475,000-square-foot Apex Center opened with a Hyatt Place hotel, a Fairfield Inn & Suites, an office building and retailers like Qdoba, T-Mobile and Sport Clips. Highlighting the new development is a two-story building with restaurants and bars, a Planet Fitness gym and the Apex Entertainment complex.

Notable runner-up: Mercantile Center

Best Venue for a Business Meeting

Beechwood Hotel*


Top executive: Sayed Saleh, asset manager and managing director

Founded: 1989

Employees: 51-200

With a staff of professional meeting planners and more than 8,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, the Beechwood can accommodate meetings of all sizes, from small employee-only gatherings to larger forums for clients

Best Venue for a Corporate Event

Beechwood Hotel


Top executive: Sayed Saleh, asset manager and managing director

Founded: 1989

Employees: 51-200

For corporate events, the Beechwood pairs its flexible meeting space with its award-winning cuisine to deliver a memorable experience for attendees.The facility offers the Sonoma Restaurant as a place to unwind afterward.

Notable runners-up: Worcester Art Museum, Mechanics Hall

Best Restaurant for Business Lunch

The Sole Proprietor*


Top executives: Co-owners Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist and General Manager Eric Andreoli

Founded: 1979

Employees: 98

Freshness and hospitality have made The Sole Proprietor a Worcester institution, making loyal customers of the children and grandchildren of its original customers. The eatery is undergoing an extensive renovation of its interior, including a new kitchen, dining space, bar area and private dining rooms.

Notable runners-up: VIA Italian Table, Volturno Pizza Napoletana, simjang, 110 Grill, Baba Sushi, Cafe Reyes

Best Caterer for a Corporate Event

Peppers Artful Events*


Top executives: Susan and John Lawrence

Founded: 1987

Employees: 50-150 full and part time

Peppers focuses on everything from artful presentations of the food to the event decor, using an attentive staff to create a personalized approach. In 2018, Peppers brought in two new chefs to lead its culinary department, bringing fresh ideas to menus.

Notable runner-up: Struck Catering

Best Golf Club for Corporate Outing

Cyprian Keyes Golf Club*


Top executive: General Manager David Frem

Founded: 1997

Employees: Changes seasonally

Cyprian offers a variety of amenities – an 18-hole championship golf course, a 9-hole par-3 course and five function rooms – to accommodate groups of all sizes and budget. In 2018, the club focused on little details like complimentary rounds of golf for outing participants.

*Repeat winner

Read about the rest of the 2019 Best of Business Award winners:

Handling your money

Multimedia experts

People to know

Servicing your business

To add a touch of luxury

Where to unwind

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