Recalde’s Sidewalk Café is an unexpected slice of home

The name Recalde’s Sidewalk Café gives off a sense of ambiguity — especially for a place known as much for its tostones as its coffee. Its presence, with eye-catching full-length windows and a newly installed awning, is satisfying enough to ask the question, “What is Recalde’s all about?”

Nestled on the corner of Pleasant and Abbott streets, not far from Park Avenue, Recalde’s Sidewalk Café is a transformative experience of authentic Spanish cuisine.

With salsa music playing in the background, the sounds of the Spanish language lingering in the air and the open-arms welcome from their employees, Recalde’s Sidewalk Café, open since February, is all about the Spanish culture. It’s an effort embracing and elevating the feeling of eating at abuela’s house.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 48]: The look of leadership

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

In the past I rarely found myself looking at the participants in a meeting and questioning the balance of ethnicity and gender in the room. But nowadays, it seems that is all I can focus on.

Raised by a strong woman, I never paid close attention to the roles Latinas played in my environment. I never doubted my abilities to accomplish things, because I was raised to view myself as a capable human being and not a statistical figure in society.

As I get older, though, and more involved in the community, more vocal about how I envision my future, I can’t help but realize how concerned I should be with the lack of diverse representation in my entrepreneurial community.

While my inner feminist is thrilled to read statistics from a recent Harvard Business School study, “Diversity in Innovation,” which claims that the “female labor market participation in the United States has nearly doubled from 1950, going from 33 percent to 57 percent in 2016,” my inner Latina is crushed by the same study.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The new home frame of mind, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 47]: The new home frame of mind

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Almost a year ago, The Learning Hub was closing shop.

We had first attempted to bring a creative learning center to the children of Worcester; but most importantly, to the children living in the neighborhoods around Pleasant Street – one of the many forgotten areas in Worcester’s low-income portfolio – and we failed.

Overhead costs were unsustainable, demand for our services was low, and our location was limited in size and growth potential. Through our struggle to attract a broader local community and allow them to see what we offered, we learned the value of mobility and closed our doors at 253 Pleasant St.

Since July 2016, we embraced the concept of mobility and launched a library initiative to bring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning to all of the state’s communities through the revitalization of programming for children in libraries across Massachusetts.

In the 13-plus months since, we have hosted more than 140 classes, at libraries in five cities and towns and have taught more than 2,000 students. Our mission to increase STEAM accessibility to young students has been a success – at least, to the standards of our definition of success.

But the mission is never over, and as we continue to expand to other libraries in Massachusetts, like the Sherborn Public Library and Needham Public Library, we’ve come to realize our expansion options are limited by the almighty dollar.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The business of growing up, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

No child’s play: Simon Says Give Worcester chapter packs a serious charitable punch

Simon Eber, 14, is the kid president of the Worcester chapter of Simon Says Give, which provides students in need with birthday celebrations and school supplies.

“Simon Says Give in Minnesota started the High Five for Supplies campaign, and when I learned more about it, I realized that it would be a great way to help other children in Worcester Public Schools,” Eber said.

“The program was intended for the younger elementary school students, but I thought it would be great to give this opportunity to sixth graders to help with their transition to middle school.”

After starting the Worcester chapter of the Minnesota-based nonprofit earlier this year, Eber has donated more than 168 backpacks filled with school supplies and celebrated two birthdays since April.

More from Worcester Sun

A Mother’s Journey [Part 46]: The business of growing up

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

As parents, we want to provide our children with all the tools for success, but as entrepreneurs we know that most of those tools are not anything tangible we can give.

Instead our tool bag consists of a few innate traits that give us the ability to see the world differently — those are the things we need to pass on to our children. Teaching children about business at a young age, I believe, is essential to their future. And not merely as budding entrepreneurs but also as productive citizens in search of social change.

Lessons in money management, organizational skills and leadership must be a part of the learning model.

Summer 2017 will be an experiment on learning to be an entrepreneur and figuring out what that means for the future of my daughters.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The collaboration realization, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

For Live Action Escapes, unlocking success is no longer a mystery

“Uncle Henry is on vacation. He left behind a series of encrypted notes for his grandson, Mason,” says, Amanda Paquin, your host for the evening. “Help Mason unlock the clues to find Henry’s Gold!”

Before closing the door, the co-owner of Live Action Escapes lays out the rules of the game: “You have 45 minutes to solve the puzzles inside and escape the room.”

It sounds like the beginning of an Indiana Jones movie, with a plot twist that leaves the characters in the midst of a life-and-death situation. Instead it is a night at Worcester’s second escape-the-room game complex, with up to 10 daring people who paid $25 each to be locked in a riddle-filled room.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

It;s easy to find your way in to Live Action Escapes. Getting out? Not so much.

The clues and your collective cunning are the only way out.

Escape rooms — a growing entertainment business — attempt to breathe interactive life back into a world dominated by touchscreens, emojicons and digital communication.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 45]: The collaboration realization

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

After a series of workshops held by community leaders, endless peer presentations reflecting our leadership skills, and extensive discussions about what Worcester needs, Leadership Worcester has come to an end for the 2016-17 class.

In this joint initiative of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Greater Worcester Community Foundation, 25 “promising new professionals” connected through their various professional and personal backgrounds to talk about the future of Worcester — and quite honestly, they couldn’t have selected a better group of motivated, strong-minded and opinionated individuals.

On a mission to keep us all inspired up to the last minute — after months of skills development, training and networking — our final project was to sum up our experience in a six-word memoir. After a few minutes of debating and battling to bring the program full circle in only a few words, I stumbled upon my “ah-ha!” moment.

I realized Leadership Worcester was never really about building leaders. Instead, for me, it was about helping existing leaders learn to collaborate with others, to be the change we want to see.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The one dedicated to mom, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 44]: The one dedicated to mom

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Being a parent is the most undervalued job in America. It is sometimes mocked by those running the corporate world — if not by their words, then by their actions — and often is deemed as less-than by those who haven’t fallen in love with the idea of unconditional love.

Parenting, to me, could be seen as the human equivalent of entrepreneurship. Parents are chauffeurs, doctors, professional cuddlers, assistants, chefs — but most of all, parents are the building blocks of what the future will look like.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and while that statement may be true, I think it just takes one special person to make a world of a difference.

While our world today is in a political uproar, we, as parents, must ensure that our children are raised to understand that political climates should never steer someone from doing the right thing. As parents, it is our job to make sure we raise children with an impeccable sense of empathy, an overwhelming allowance for free-thinking and a lack of fear to express their individualism.

I dedicate this week’s column to the parents of the future. To single moms everywhere making the impossible happen. To single dads braiding the hairs of their little girls and playing dress-up. To the co-parenting parents, making it work for the sake of their children. And to the married couple, trying to keep a cheerful home while each working forty-plus hours a week.

This column is for you, but most importantly, this column is for my mom.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The road less traveled, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Altea’s Eatery offers brunch lovers an everyday entree to France

On a cloudy spring day, Altea’s Eatery, a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant with a French twist nestled on a bustling stretch of Park Avenue, seems capable of transporting customers from the dark, cloud-covered streets of Worcester to the bright, minimalist flair of France.

The exposed brick walls, brightly lit and sparely decorated tables, and the soothing sounds of French music playing in the background gives one the feeling that Worcester has a few secret connections to Old Paree.

With wall-length windows beckoning the sun, the unrelenting street traffic and increasing numbers of Park Avenue pedestrians, Altea’s felt like the place to be on a recent Monday morning. Bright, full and in good spirit, the eatery represents a mini-break from the demands of the everyday.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

Altea’s Eatery, 259 Park Ave.

Co-owner Oriola Koci greets customers as they enter and frequently checks on patrons to see if they are “in need of anything else.”

The friendly, close-knit atmosphere is exactly what Koci set out to create when she opened Altea’s Eatery in October 2016 with her husband, chef Enton Mehillaj. The pair began their culinary journey in Worcester in 2013 by opening the popular Livia’s Dish near Leicester at the far end of Main Street.

Hidden Gem: Uncle Jay’s Twisted Fork