Local Business Spotlight: Flying Dreams brewery crafts a unique story

Some people know from a very young age what they want to be in life, and exploration quickly turns to repetition. Others follow a passion for discovery and find their calling in whatever holds the most room for wonderment and growth.

For Dave Richardson, the journey might’ve well begun with his coursework at the University of Vermont, where he graduated with a major in environmental sciences and a double minor in plant and soil sciences.

Flying Dreams Brewing Co. is at 455 Park Ave.

Sean M. Haley / For Worcester Sun

Flying Dreams Brewing Co. is at 455 Park Ave.

Or, it might’ve begun with his first sip of craft beer.

Now, almost 20 years later, Richardson is the proud owner and braumeister of Worcester’s Flying Dreams Brewing Co. at 455 Park Ave. The brewery, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary in November, was founded on the principles of using quality, unique ingredients, and spending extra brewing time to allow for a superior beer that holds its flavor longer.

And just like his philosophies related to brewing, Richardson’s own journey holds a combination of uniqueness and the time to flourish.

Local Business Spotlight: Dianna’s Neighborhood Bistro blends community, passion, fine cuisine

Richard and Diane George celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary last Tuesday, July 14. Their love story, like their careers, started in the kitchen. The couple first met while working at the same hotel and then started dating when Diane became the chef at and helped her friend open Val’s Restaurant in Holden.

Richard’s and Diane’s lifelong passion for cooking led to the April 21 opening of their own restaurant, Dianna’s Neighborhood Bistro, at 120 June St.

This intimate eatery — named Dianna’s instead of Diane’s because it “sounds more European,” in case you’re wondering — formerly home to Le Mirage, uses classic cooking techniques to put new twists on traditional dishes, Richard said.

The husband and wife team behind Dianna's Neighborhood Bistro, Richard and Diane George. They celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary July 14.

Sloane M. Perron / For Worcester Sun

The husband and wife team behind Dianna’s Neighborhood Bistro, Richard and Diane George. They celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary July 14.

Richard, the oldest of seven children, said his skill as a chef developed by cooking for his family. After 45 years in the restaurant business, including 18 managing Grove Street’s Ciao Bella, he’s held an array of interesting jobs, such as working as the executive chef on the iconic Mississippi Queen steamboat.

Diane’s cooking experience began in the late 1970s when she was 14 and started working at Central Kitchen, a bakery on Main Street, that was an offshoot of the Oyster House. By learning how to make bread and bake first hand, Diane says she found her niche early on as a teenager.

“I always loved cooking. It was something I wanted to do,” she says.

Maximum capacity: Hard-working Becker student crashes Bravehearts all-star party

Rejon Taylor-Foster had nowhere to go.

It was May 2014 and Taylor-Foster, a developer, game designer and teenage founder of the digital production studio Maximum Crash, had a problem.

His freshman year at Becker College was over, his home in Mount Vernon, New York, lost to neighborhood gentrification.

His options were limited, his drive was not. His requirements?

“All I needed was a corner and an outlet,” he said. “If I am able to get the tech, I can do the job because my skills are intact. I still have my computer. If I can get power, and I can connect to people, I can do more.”

Rejon Taylor-Foster

Mark Henderson / Worcester Sun

Rejon Taylor-Foster

Credit the family of Taylor-Foster’s friend Jeff Reiner for providing the corner, the outlet and an air mattress at their home in Burlington. Taylor-Foster took care of the rest.

Coding, or programming, was not just a way to make money. It is a way for Taylor-Foster to improve his skills, which are considerable, to create a better life.

Those skills are on display most notably in Bravehearts Derby, an app developed for the Worcester Bravehearts. Taylor-Foster created the original game upon which it is based and led a team of enterprising students in creating a slick, enhanced version for the city’s hometown team.

Bravehearts Derby app a blast for fans, home run for MassDiGI developers

At first it seemed like a longshot.

Timothy Loew, Executive Director of the Mass. Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), and Worcester Bravehearts General Manager Dave Peterson gathered the students of MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program to kick around ideas for a Bravehearts app.

“I had known about the program at Becker,” Peterson said, “and Tim Loew reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we have a great opportunity for you to come in with the mascot, and talk to MassDiGI about what the baseball team is and what the baseball team does in the community; and who knows where it’ll take us, but maybe it’ll spark an idea about a potential app.’

The Bravehearts Derby app is more than just a video game.

Courtesy Maximum Crash

The Bravehearts Derby app is more than just a video game.

“We talked about things like promoting reading, promoting sportsmanship, promoting healthy living,” Peterson said. “Part of what this app developed into is a game that kids can play, but it also has scrolling messages that talk about the team.

“It also talks about what Jake the Lion is doing in the community during the course of the year. We kind of tied together the community aspect and the gaming aspect.”

The problem was, each of the students was already assigned to a team producing a game for the summer program.

Local Business Spotlight: ETAwiz, Worcester-developed app is right on time

Very rarely would one pinpoint a vintage car show as the site for modern innovation.

It was in this setting of lax fuel emissions standards and pastel-painted tailfins, however, that ETAwiz — a free, location based-service app recently launched in the Apple App Store — would find its beginning between CEO and Founder Kevin Anderson and Chief Operating Officer Michael Aguirre.

Founder Kevin Anderson presents his app (screenshot design by Matthew Reynolds).

Courtesy ETAwiz

Founder Kevin Anderson presents his app (screenshot design by Matthew Reynolds).

As its name implies, ETAwiz orients itself around the abilities to share, receive and coordinate travelers’ expected times of arrival. From its most casual to most corporate of uses, ETAwiz is marketed as being able to service groups between “two and two-thousand members,” though the upper boundary is actually open-ended.

Designed to be used irrespective of audience — friends meeting for a post-work drink; a pizza delivery service informing a family when it should set out the paper plates; or a stranded motorist waiting for roadside assistance — Aguirre’s and Anderson’s app was constructed around the adage that “knowledge is power.”

“If I don’t know if someone is coming to my home or office, my mind starts to wander,” said Aguirre. “Just using this app, just knowing their ETA, that could definitely make you feel better” — particularly in an emergency or other high-stress situation.

Nick Bold

Local Business Spotlight: Technocopia, making it work

After much tribulation and with almost no end in sight, the builders at Technocopia finally put it all back together.

Nicholas Bold, Kevin Harrington and Alex Camelo started as three classmates from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a passion for automation, robotics and creativity in their application. They would later form Neuron Robotics in 2008, a consulting and education company designed to inspire a similar passion for robotics in others, and to assist employers in making their operations more efficient.

Nick Bold

Sun Staff / Worcester Sun

Nick Bold of Technocopia, center, meets with prospective members at a recent Open Hacks and Craft night, 7:30-10 p.m. every Thursday.

Their initial attitude toward what they define as “capital equipment,” machines designed to assist in production and reduce human labor, was that the life of the everyday person would be enhanced.

“The idea was that the less people had to work, the more time they would have for leisure activities and education,” Harrington said.

“Now you don’t have to do that work which you automated,” Bold said. “You can work on other stuff instead.”

In reality, though enterprising, their contracting experience also left them feeling disillusioned when one client, whom they left unnamed for professional reasons, laid off 30 of its workers after hiring Neuron to help automate their processes.

Local Business Spotlight: LocalPorch to bring Worcester e-commerce closer to home

LocalPorch is an innovative website begun in Worcester. A melding of technology with the shop-local trend, it aims for a more meaningful and enjoyable way for people to purchase goods made nearby.

Makers of handcrafted items, meanwhile, would through the website have an easier time finding and connecting with local customers.

LocalPorch plans a soft launch in September

Sun Staff image

LocalPorch plans a soft launch in September

Set for a soft launch in September, the site is described by owner and founder Kim Sullivan as “Craigslist meets Etsy with the payment convenience of Uber.” LocalPorch claims to be the first of its kind. Its mission is to bridge the gap between online and in-person interaction, creating a better experience for both buyer and seller.

“LocalPorch is an online marketplace for handmade goods to connect consumers with their local makers in their community. We want to create a new shopping experience for consumers by boosting the local talents of makers,” said Sullivan.

Local Business Spotlight: For Worcester’s Sneakerama, it’s a marathon

If you grew up in Worcester in the 1980s and ’90s, then certainly you could quickly muster a long list of businesses which existed when you were a kid that are no longer open.

Maybe your list looks something like this: Caldor, Worcester Common Fashion Outlets, Discovery Zone, Abdow’s Big Boy, Dream Machine, The Ground Round, Maurice the Pants Man, Charlie’s Surplus, Spag’s.

One could go on and on.

Sneakerama, still going nearly 40 years later.

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Sneakerama, still going nearly 40 years later.

While all these places have come and gone over the past 40 years, there’s at least one small family-owned business from your childhood that survived — with no end in sight.

The slogan for Sneakerama is “For the Long Run,” and does it ever live by those words.

Local Business Spotlight: Salon cuts to the chase, leaves Shrewsbury Street for own digs

Salon owner Patty Devlin is about to triple the size of her business, expand to spa services and gain the independence to make her business space her own — just by moving one mile away, and by putting Shrewsbury Street in the rearview.

Devlin, 32, formerly of Uxbridge and now living in Douglas, is, for the moment, the owner of The Salon at GLOW, a hair salon at 386 Shrewsbury St. (next to Anytime Fitness) that subleases space from GLOW Tanning.

Avenue Fifty owner Patty Devlin

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Avenue Fifty owner Patty Devlin

Devlin, who has owned The Salon at GLOW since 2013, is putting her 14 years of experience in the hair styling industry to the test by moving to 50 Lake Ave., where she, along with five of her current employees, will open Avenue Fifty, a hair salon and day spa, in mid-June.

“We’re outgrowing the space. When we opened at GLOW, I was a subtenant of the tanning salon. But it was a good place to start my first business,” Devlin said. “Now that things have gone really well, we are moving over to Lake Ave. to expand and open more of a day spa than just a hair salon.”

Local Business Spotlight: Seed to Stem transplanting to Canal District

When you’re out shopping this summer in hopes of finding a decorative bobcat or camel skull, a deer head to hang on your wall, or a venus flytrap and insect marbles, you may find that your usual spot to grab this sort of thing has up and moved.

After four years on Shrewsbury Street, unique florist and gift shop Seed to Stem is moving this summer to Crompton Place on Green Street. An Aug. 6 opening is planned.

With what they say is tens of thousands of items in inventory, the proprietors of Seed to Stem required a larger footprint to showcase their terrariums, botanicals, antiquities and all the other gift items for sale in their store.

Candace Atchue, left, and Virginia Orlando, owners of Seed to Stem, which is on the move to Crompton Place.

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Candace Atchue, left, and Virginia Orlando, owners of Seed to Stem, which is on the move to Crompton Place.

Co-owners Virginia Orlando and Candace Atchue opened the store next to East Park about four years ago, and they said they’ve known for about two years a move was in the offing.

“We needed more space. The back room here (Shrewsbury Street) isn’t big enough. The Canal District community is growing rapidly and we’ve always been fans of Crompton Place. It’s a real destination community,” Orlando said.