November 30, 2016

Local Business Spotlight: Shrewsbury Street orders up The Usual

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This article was originally published in the Oct. 9, 2016, edition of the Sun.

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[Editor’s note: Kevin Perry, owner of The Usual and other Worcester property, was arrested March 20, 2017, and indicted on federal money laundering and other charges. He faces upwards of 60 years in prison for using more than $1 million in drug-sale profits to buy and renovate his property holdings, among other charges.]

The newest addition to Shrewsbury Street’s Restaurant Row plans to arrive this fall with a distinct spin on the sandwich.

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The Usual expects to become the new not-so-usual eatery along the famous foodie thoroughfare with a tentative November opening at 166 Shrewsbury St., where Niche Hospitality Group has incubated Mezcal Tequila Cantina, now downtown, and The Fix Burger Bar, now on Grove Street.

In a recent interview with the Sun, Kevin Perry, owner of The Usual, said, “The overall concept of the restaurant will be deluxe sandwich eatery where someone can get creative and unusual sandwiches that you can’t get elsewhere.”

Perry, who went to North High, said he researched this concept for several months before agreeing to purchase the location for $500,000 Sept. 16, per worcesterdeeds.com, from Niche Hospitality Group.

Perry and his wife, Stacey, connected with Mike Covino, Niche president and CEO, as the restaurant group was in the midst of moving The Fix to the Northworks building and considering another concept to incubate on Shrewsbury Street.

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Considering growth patterns at other properties in the city, Covino said, it was a “win-win” financially to sell the property to Perry.

Covino said he will remain connected to the address as a business consultant for The Usual.

“I like the fact that they’re not looking to just open up a bar. [The Perrys] get it. And when they don’t get it, they ask a lot of questions. They have the drive and they’re very professional about it,” Covino said.

“Mike has helped us out in every way possible. I think when people go into the restaurant business they don’t realize the totality of what’s really involved. I think if we went into this without Mike consulting us on this, we would be in the shadows. I’ve learned what the real cost of everything should be — labor, alcohol, food — and how to manage staff and inventory,” Perry said.

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According to the Massachusetts Corporate Database, Perry formed 166 Shrewsbury Street, LLC on April 12. The assessed value of the property, according to the city of Worcester, is $307,000. It was purchased by Niche Hospitality in 2013 for $450,000.

Besides the sale, all remaining details are works in progress.

“We’ve been developing the menu for the past two months. We’ve been going back and forth with a bunch of different ideas.”

“It’s going to be sandwiches with a twist. There will be some real, totally originals, and some other sandwiches that would be more like dinner,” Covino said. “Sandwiching is pretty popular right now. There’s a trend of people seeking comfort food at a good price point. They want to have quality products in their sandwich.”

A craft brew and cocktail menu is in development. The Usual will likely hire up to 15 employees and was still searching for the right fit as head chef.

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Perry worked for several years at Jose Murphy’s, the former Water Street haunt.

Perry is also a principal of Secondwind Construction Corporation, a residential real estate and renovation company. He said he plans to renovate and add space to the second floor above The Usual.

Perry will continue to run Secondwind while wife Stacey taps into “a couple years” of bartender experience to manage and operate the establishment.

“This is me taking that next step in the industry,” said the Holy Name graduate.

“I think what people can expect is that it won’t be like anything else in Worcester. It’s a different concept than anything else in the area,” Stacey said. “There will be sandwiches that no one would expect to see at a typical sandwich shop.”

“The concept is great. It’s going to be a casual eatery and will meet the expectations price point-wise that Mezcal and The Fix did,” Covino said. “What [the Perrys] are proposing with sandwiches, what they’re setting out for, is to offer the best sandwich in Worcester.”

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