You bet your purdy neck, Worcester loves its Bushel N Peck

It’s an old-fashioned sensibility that keeps the popular deli standing strong: putting the customer first. Which also makes it a perfect addition to our Survivor Series menu, highlighting Worcester small businesses standing the test of time.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 42]: The accidental perspective

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

Entrepreneurs need motivation.

Motivation to continue with our mission. Motivation to wake up in the morning and face our challenges. Motivation to move past an obstacle even when everyone says we can’t.

Entrepreneur, best-selling author and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk has been tabbed by some with saying the “most motivational statement ever.” In a direct effort to wake people up from a monotonous life filled with complaints about unhappiness and regret, Vaynerchuk strikes a chord by hitting a note most people don’t want to hear: “You’re gonna die.”

Life is precious – no doubt about it – but there is nothing that validates your existence more than a near-death experience. To see the fragility of life firsthand is more than an eye-opener. At times, it is a life-awakener.

Growing up, I was always the adventurous girl in my group of friends. Always riding on the back pegs of bikes without a helmet, rollerblading through traffic down the middle of the New York City streets during a rainstorm. I even consistently found myself a part of car racing groups.

I was fearless then, and nothing seemed dangerous. My mom would plead with me to wear helmets and kneepads. I would sigh and roll my eyes. All I wanted was the feeling of freedom as I raced down the streets and watched the city come to life around me.

I always just thought that she didn’t get me.

Recently on the rainiest of days, my little sister was on her way to New York to enjoy time with friends. As she was driving down I-95 South, she flipped her Ford Explorer and was rushed to the hospital.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The place to start, or scroll down to explore more of her story

A Mother’s Journey [Part 41]: The place to start?

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

There is something magical in the air and many people in the know are starting to feel it.

With its strong local collaborations and emerging businesses, Worcester is beginning to be recognized outside the city limits as much as inside them as a new leader in the startup world — and rightfully so.

Per recent data released by TechNet and the Progressive Policy Institute and reported by Axios.com, Worcester is lumped in with larger cities — from Philadelphia; to Nashville, Tennessee; to Portland, Oregon — as being among the nation’s emerging startup hubs.

While statistics are starting to add up to recognition that Worcester is a hub of innovative entrepreneurs, we have known this for quite some time.

Known as a center of manufacturing as far back as 150 years ago, Worcester has always served as an incubator for industries, so it is no surprise to me that we are collectively regaining our title.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The stress test, or scroll down to explore more of her story

A Mother’s Journey [Part 40]: The stress test

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

I recently shared on Facebook an article by Inc. magazine titled “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship” and it led to a serious discussion about the demons within the entrepreneurial spirit.

Throughout this series for Worcester Sun, I have written often in broad terms about the struggles of entrepreneurship while being sure to highlight the many positives. I have boasted about the ability to take back my time. Above all things, I consistently try to impress upon my readers that entrepreneurship has been a savior for me.

It is a lifeline that can change everything — but after reading this article, I realized that entrepreneurship is not the hero in everyone’s story.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The parent trap, or scroll down to explore more of her story

A Mother’s Journey [Part 39]: The parent trap

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations 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, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January 2016 but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

We have seven family vacation blocks every year, and the February school break is one.

Normally, this is our week to drive to Washington, D.C., to enjoy the Smithsonian museums and add a little more creative education for the girls. This year, we had to take a detour.

Not only is this is our first February vacation as a full-on homeschooling family, but Evian and Brooklyn had recently been battling the flu. So we put down the books, gave the girls a break and tried to enjoy the week on a local scale.

With an abbreviated schedule of classes at The Learning Hub last week, there was extra time to spend with the family, and it was a break we all needed.

Accustomed to a full schedule, I, of course, packed the week with daily entertainment and activities. With no less than 10 outings since President’s Day, we were able to forget about D.C. and focus on enjoying our time together. But guess who has the flu now?

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The time trials, or scroll down to explore more of her story

Hidden Gem: Belmont Vegetarian a true calling for owner — and its many fans

“Owning a vegetarian restaurant is a lifestyle choice for me. I am a vegetarian offering vegetarian dishes I find interesting.” Giselle Rivera-Flores squeezes into the Bell Hill staple to get Stephen Jones’ story from the beginning.

You bet your purdy neck, Worcester loves its Bushel N Peck

Often nestled in the nooks and crannies of major cities, the classic American deli can sometimes simply be overlooked in these days of style over substance.

Maybe even by a local food writer who doesn’t get up to The Summit very much.

Better late than never!

Besides, plating iconic lunchtime favorites and holding the line on affordability appears to be a formula that will be keeping Bushel N Peck around for a while, no matter who’s in charge. Putting their customers first is, indeed, the top item on the menu (though loyalists might make a case for the signature Italian — either wrapped and ready or made to order).

“We are at an advantage with our customers as we can connect with them one-on-one every day. We are always open to discussing any new ideas or issues they may have with our locations,” says Michael Bartosiewicz, who bought two locations, at East Mountain Street and Tatnuck Square, in 2005 from Tom Sr. and Elsa Oliveri.

“We engage with our customers through social media, which is a vital tool for us. Through this, we learn what dishes work at each Bushel N Peck and we offer different options depending on the location and the wants of the customers.”

Check out Bushel N Peck on ‘Phantom Gourmet’

A Mother’s Journey [Part 38]: The time trials

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations 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, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January 2016 but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

When a child is facing a learning challenge – a term I don’t like to use to describe Brooklyn’s ADHD – there are days that seem impossible. On these days, time becomes the enemy and energy becomes an underachiever.

Meetings are canceled to give more attention to Brook and her studies, and dinner is ordered from a local eatery because even making a family meal seems a bridge too far. While these days are rare, they do happen and they turn my week into a game of “catch-up.”

And that’s OK.

For me, there are no secrets to success. I believe one of the main things needed to be successful – whether it is in academics, business or in life – is an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Before attempting to conquer the world, you must understand your abilities.

Capitalizing on your strengths is how you become successful, and that is what I try to teach Brooklyn and Evian.

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

Bravehearts’ local quartet has spring in their step

Jack Riley — one of four Worcester-area players returning to the hometown team’s roster for 2017 — is back after a two-summer hiatus and wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love coming back home for the summer and playing for some of the best fans around.”

When Worcester’s best chefs compete, everybody wins

Worcester’s “Foodie Renaissance” is well-documented. New restaurants of all shapes and sizes continue to elbow their way into the mainstream, all while collecting accolades and ratcheting up that friendly neighborhood competition along Shrewsbury Street, in the Canal District, across the city and beyond.

That one-upmanship will be at its zenith Sunday, Jan. 29, when Worcester’s Best Chef Competition, featuring top cooks from many of the city’s and region’s most popular eateries, celebrates its 10th anniversary by inviting all previous winners back to Mechanics Hall for an “Iron Chef”-style battle royale.

“I love participating in this event,” says Christopher O’Harra, executive chef of Flying Rhino Café & Watering Hole on Shrewsbury Street.

O’Harra, winner of the People’s Choice award in 2015, is among 14 returning competitors who have either won the event’s “Iron Chef” title or been named a people’s or judges’ choice winner. One notable name will be absent from the impressive roster.