Joe's Albums

Joe’s Albums helps lead resurgence of vinyl and retail on Main Street

“Between size and proximity, I wanted to get more ‘central’ and larger. I had looked in the Canal District … then looked down here and saw all of the development going on and thought that was very intriguing. We’re still a few more years away from what’s going to happen, but I think Worcester is truly coming back this time.” Art Simas reports on the place where vinyl records and retail are making a comeback.

Meat and greet: Fairway Beef’s Sigel, customers share unbreakable bond

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, who opened the store in 1946. Now 82, George is the front man. With the straw hat and big smile, you can’t miss him if you tried.

Good as Gold Coffee has an air of staying power

Good as Gold Coffee has been a staple of the Green Street neighborhood since Sid Goldman founded the company in 1969.

Lately, the family owned company now run by Dan Goldman with the help of wife, Patrice, and sons Michael and Jay is three years into a grueling adventure that is the art of “modern brewing.”

The project is an evolution in coffee-making, heating the beans and roasting them with carefully measured doses of heated air, controlled by a computer and new technology.

The Good as Gold family considers its new brand Airis to be coffee’s answer to craft beer.

“Over 99 percent of the coffee that is roasted today is done on drum roasters,” said Dan Goldman, owner and patriarch. “In roasting, it’s all about how you apply heat to the coffee bean.”

The daughter also rises: 50 years of family at Foley & Son Fish and Chips

“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.”

Meet Worcester’s clinical trial pioneers

“If we can relieve pain differently, and get people away from opioids by understanding how other pain pathways can be impeded, that would make a huge difference in people’s lives.”

Joe's Albums

Joe’s Albums helps lead resurgence of vinyl and retail on Main Street

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.

More Local Business Spotlights

Meat and greet: Fairway Beef’s Sigel, customers share unbreakable bond

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 info@worcester.ma.

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.

The daughter also rises: 50 years of family at Foley & Son Fish and Chips

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.

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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.”

Meet Worcester’s clinical trial pioneers

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.