Art Simas spent more than 25 years in a number of roles at the Telegram & Gazette. After several years as a news reporter, he graduated to the copy desk. From there he went on to become a special sections editorial manager for the marketing and new media departments, where he spent the last seven years of his T&G tenure. He has a long history of covering myriad subjects in the city and currently freelances for a number of regional publications.
“Basically everything is the same as it was in 1967. The fryolators, counter and back room are still in the same location. Of course, we’ve had some upgrades over the years but the layout is exactly the same as the original,” Patti Foley said. “I’m very fortunate and blessed that we keep going. I have a lot of regular customers. So without them, I’d never be here.”
Joe Demers, owner of Joe’s Albums at 317 Main St., has chosen to follow the adage generally attributed to Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
With apologies to Mr. Hendrix, if you want to be “Experienced,” head to the former WRTA headquarters near Mechanics Hall and enter the room of vinyl. Strike up a conversation with Joe and you, too, shall be immersed in the art of sound, texture and warmth, found in those long-lost scratchy treasures, now reborn as newfound friends.
Demers has been a big music fan since he received his first all-in-one “stereo” when he was 6 years old.
“For people who truly want to listen, vinyl is a high quality sound. I believe that people who listen to records are ‘active’ listeners, because you have to physically take it out, manually place it on the turntable, then take it off, too. You are much more attached to it. … It’s a tangible experience and I think that plays a big part.”
But kids grow up to be teens, life gets in the way and the “stereo” is shuttered away to a dark corner of the house.
“For about 20 years, I never listened to my records, which were stored in the basement. By that time, I was listening to music on CDs, iPods and MP3 players,” he said.
About eight years ago during the winter, he decided to revisit his dusty childhood friend and the amazingly still-preserved albums.
Survivor Series is an occasional series highlighting Worcester businesses that have stood the test of time. Do you know of a long-running business with a unique story that fits the bill? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s got character — and characters — charisma and class.
It’s also a microcosm of the American Dream. A 7-year-old Russian immigrant comes to the United States, eventually lands in Worcester, and grows up to own his own business. And leaves a legacy of success to his four sons.
Seventy-one years later, Fairway Beef stands in the same place as a testament to hard work, community, endurance and pride — a success story built on hard work, integrity and low prices for consumers.
If one visits the establishment and concludes, “They certainly don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” that’s the best compliment anyone can offer, according to George Sigel, one of the four sons of Manny Sigel, that 7-year-old who arrived at Ellis Island.
Art Simas / For Worcester Sun
This big bovine will steer you in the right direction — if your’e looking for Fairway Beef.
Now 82, George is the front man. With the straw hat and big smile, you can’t miss him if you tried. His youngest brother, Jack, 66, also works at Fairway.
Back in 1967, the original Foleys – Evelyn and Eugene – thought it was a pretty sure bet that one of their five sons would want to be part of their new business. So they hung a sign above their shop at the corner of Franklin and Plantation streets that read Foley & Son Fish and Chips.
Fifty years later the shop and the sign are still there, but it’s their youngest and their only daughter, Patti J. Foley, with assistance from a few others each week, who is running the show – balancing the books, cutting the fish and sweating by the fryolators.
“When my mom opened it in 1967, she also sold grinders and pizza in addition to fish and chips. But the combination never really took off. So she decided to do only fish and chips,” Foley said. “This was her part-time job when we were all growing up.”
Art Simas / For Worcester Sun
The original sign still hangs above 274 Plantation St.
Years ago, there were several fish-and-chip restaurants in Worcester, including Robert’s Fish and Chips, named after Robert J. Sutherland, who was also known as the King of Fish and Chips in Worcester.
Foley said, “My mother and he were best friends and he had about eight restaurants on one time, all named after members of his family. My mom ran his Belmont Street store for years before she landed at the Plantation Street location here. And the rest is history.”
Clinical pharmacology. Clinical trials. These phrases may not roll off the tongue with ease. And they probably do not convey a warm and fuzzy feeling … think of cold, hard surfaces, procedures, and questions, questions, questions.
Let’s debunk these perceptions right now. Everyone here wants you to get better. And they do not stop looking for answers to your situation.
From its beginning as Clinical Pharmacology Group in 1989 inside the former City Hospital on Queen Street, to its present quarters at 25 Oak Ave., Advanced Clinical Care has been headed by Director Mary Coughlin, R.N., and medical director Dr. Charles A. Birbara.
Coughlin has been involved in more than 500 clinical trials. She and Dr. Birbara have been at the forefront of transforming painful, debilitating diseases into pain-free or almost pain-free lives for their patients.
“My initial role (in the business) was to replace a coordinator who had left,” Coughlin said. “At that time (1975), there was only one study for osteoarthritis with about six patients enrolled. It was really just a part-time job.
“In the beginning, in my spare time, I would call the various drug companies, asking for the rheumatology departments, and try to talk to someone about what trials were going on. We got involved in some trials that way,” she said. “Then, if we did well with enrollment and with the data collection, we would get several more trials with that company.”
In the 1980s and early 1990s, drug companies wanted to control their own trials with their own personnel. But as time went on, the companies drifted from this insular approach.
“Soon there were more CROs (clinical research organizations) that were hired by the drug companies to run the studies. The CROs would find the trial sites and do all the training and monitoring for the pharmaceutical company,” Coughlin said. “A large CRO would have hundreds of studies in all different fields of medicine. If we did well in a study, the CRO might have a trial for another indication (symptom), and ask us to participate.”
Far from their lean, uncertain early days, Coughlin and Dr. Birbara have been among the vanguard in their field, developing a specialty in rheumatology and helping to bring pain-relieving drugs like Humira and Xeljanz to sufferers of arthritis, Crohn’s disease and other disorders.
A downtown startup is putting its expertise through its paces, right down to the family dog. Indeed, its most recent product is receiving wide acclaim. Art Simas hooks up with the IoT innovators for a closer look.
When a company decides to “do the right thing” and stay with it, good things can happen after all.
For founding partners Jay Cahill and Michael Po, the entrepreneurial escapades of Bluefin Technology Partners eventually landed them in downtown Worcester in 2013. The company has 12 employees in a recently renovated building which was the former home of the Telegram & Gazette.
After several forays spanning eight years as a team with ventures in the States, Cahill and Po built a mobile application in the social media space for Instagram in Shanghai during the late 2000s that was solely for the Chinese market.
Because they had established their business before the Chinese government crackdown on social media, they were grandfathered in and allowed to pursue their business.
“We had millions of customers on the platform and we eventually sold the company to SINA Corp. of China, which has a Weibo platform that hosts their own social media content of its users,” Po explained.
After the sale Bluefin struck out as a consulting organization.
“A lot of people were tapping us for our … experience in developing large-scale applications for consumers that can handle millions of customers on the back end,” Cahill said. “That was what our pedigree had been, and we connected with Josh (Croke) and brought in a lot of the user experience design and a back end piece with our mobile experience.”
As the team was working within these parameters, the IoT (Internet of Things) market emerged as the next wave. So that’s when they established residence in Worcester.
Making music for a living can be a fine thing — except for the part about making a living.
So why do so many people choose it as a career?
For Pete Levesque, it is a lifelong commitment to constantly tune a noble craft … of practicing, learning, and sticking with it … of showing your skills to the world on large and small stages. But it requires facing truths about yourself and doing what needs to be done for your family.
His career choice started on the infamous “Choose Your Instrument Day” when he was in fourth grade in Pennsylvania.
“I chose the saxophone because it was nice and shiny and it looked good. I wasn’t interested in the trumpet. That looked like it was going to be too hard to learn, and the sax was definitely cooler-looking than a clarinet.”
His father’s Smithsonian Jazz Record Collection was his first inspiration. But it was the innovative sounds and playing speed of Ornette Coleman, the father of the free jazz movement of the 1960s, that converted him to an apostle of the instrument.
“I’d listen to him play tunes that had some really fast rhythm changes to it … I remember just laughing at the thought that someone could play that fast. That’s when I decided what I was going to do with my life. I was going to try to play like that,” Levesque said.