With Blue Shades, Park Ave. is hot on the waffle trend

Worcester’s food scene continues to evolve. From eclectic restaurants like deadhorse hill to ramen noodle bars in the Canal District and downtown, Worcester’s growth as a food hub clearly isn’t finished yet.

Only a few years ago, Worcester was barely recognized for its culinary scene – apart from the lengthy list of restaurants owned by Niche Hospitality Group – and now, it is known as a destination for adventurous eaters, food enthusiasts and restaurant influencers. Even so, it could be argued that Worcester lacked one main foodie attraction: an Instagram-worthy restaurant with a cult-like following specializing in a single, signature dish.

On Park Avenue – which features a formidable “restaurant row” in its own right – sits a newly opened restaurant that should interest local food lovers, coffee aficionados and Instagram-crazed bloggers seeking a unique experience: Blue Shades.

A selection of signature Liege waffles on display.

If you couldn’t tell by the massive inflatable often swinging from the awning, Blue Shades, which opened in mid-November, is Worcester’s first Liège waffle shop. It’s quickly become the slice of foodie heaven Worcesterites didn’t know they needed.

The Balancing Act: Owning your place among entrepreneurs

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the busy life of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores in the serial “A Mother’s Journey,” as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s a full-fledged entrepreneur and acknowledged leader in the startup community. As Giselle has evolved, so has her story. Welcome to the latest installment of “The Balancing Act.”

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Entrepreneurship can be a complex term. In some respects, its definition is debatable. Some may define an entrepreneur as a “person who owns their own business,” while others define it as a state of mind and an attitude. Although one can be both an “entrepreneur” and a “business owner,” the two terms are not interchangeable.

Both roles are equally important to economic development and carry a common core of responsibilities; however, the two roles are not one and the same, and often require two different kinds of people to make these roles successful.

At the extreme, an entrepreneur is a person of very high aptitude who pioneers change and possesses characteristics found in only a small fraction of the population. I have spoken about the difference between entrepreneurs and business owners for years and more recently, I have received a bit of backlash from a small business owner because she felt that my commentary was divisive and undermined small business owners.

But it’s not. It is merely a distinction between the two.

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

The Balancing Act: The disconnect

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the busy life of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores in the serial “A Mother’s Journey,” as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s a full-fledged entrepreneur and acknowledged leader in the startup community. As Giselle has evolved, so has her story. Welcome to the third installment of “The Balancing Act.”

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The assumption that big and bold actions change the course of creation and innovation, to me, is fundamentally false.

More often, change is created through the mundane work that comes before the big action sequences. From social movements to business markets, the real moments of change are created through redundant persuasion, gradually changing the minds of consumers, followers and leaders. It is endless, arduous work.

The sum of these small efforts, repeated day in and day out, are the stepping stones of success.

Success is not possible overnight, never mind even a few months or years. It is made tangible only after all the small efforts click together. Changing minds takes time, and that has been proved through history with social movements.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter: The year of determination and defiance

Social movements are the case studies most entrepreneurs are not reading.

The Balancing Act: The year of determination and defiance

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the busy life of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores in the serial “A Mother’s Journey,” as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s a full-fledged entrepreneur and acknowledged leader in the startup community. As Giselle has evolved, so has her story. Welcome to the second installment of “The Balancing Act.”

Giselle Rivera-Flores

In 2018, let the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Big Magic,” ring in the new year: “You are not required to save the world with your creativity.”

Too often, we – creatives, entrepreneurs, writers, innovators, etc. – tend to look at the world and act as the solution for all problems. We look to the market to fill the voids, we look to other entrepreneurs to help us on our journey and, in turn, we loosely lose our passions that started us on this adventure.

We all have a talent and helping others should never be the sole purpose of this talent  – unless helping others is a genuine passion — because, as Gilbert states, “we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.” Working for the contentment of others is an endless task – one that may never offer closure. So, work with the intention of filling your individual passions. It sounds selfish, but it truly is the opposite.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The right partnerships can get you ahead, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

So hungry you could eat a Horse Feast? Try deadhorse hill

At deadhorse hill, the trendy, well-regarded downtown eatery, Chef Jared Forman’s aptly named tasting menu is one of breathtaking explorations into the American palate. Coupling a unique approach to seasonal items with a regular rotation of inspiring presentations, the tasting menu we recently sampled provided all sorts of surprises.

The Dish: Kummerspeck tenders the tastiest holiday trimmings

With the holidays comes the joy of overeating, a sudden lack of portion control, and food lovers thinking about the new year and starting a new diet.

Comfort foods become cravings in the months of November and December, and hearty meals tend to lead us right into sleeping bliss. For someone like me, the holidays are pure heaven.

Recently, that nostalgic, emotional eating style has been captured by the menu offered at Kummerspeck.

Kummerspeck’s menu is tailored to satisfy even the smallest dose of emotional dining. The Canal District business’s atmosphere brings about a sense of home and allows diners to settle in to its eclectic mix of comfort foods that pay homage to European dishes with a twist of American classics.

With a heavy focus on locally sourced ingredients, Kummerspeck flexes its creative muscles in the kitchen by providing new dishes every day, and keeping the menu fresh and engaging for its patrons.

The Balancing Act: The right partnerships can get you ahead

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the busy life of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores in the serial “A Mother’s Journey,” as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s a full-fledged entrepreneur and acknowledged leader in the startup community. As Giselle has evolved, so has her story. Welcome to the first installment of “The Balancing Act.”

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The adage “Two heads are better than one” may explain the reason many entrepreneurs and small-business owners team up to form partnerships. In fact, new research by Carnegie Mellon University professor Anita Williams Woolley and her colleagues suggests that the intelligence of a group can exceed that of its individual members.

Well, if the right conditions are met.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, Don’t starve the artists , or scroll down to explore more of her story.

A partnership doesn’t always equate to more brainpower or productivity. Some partnerships, while equally healthy on the surface – personalities are a match and there are some shared worldviews – are not always healthy on a business level. Friends often find themselves starting partnerships with other friends only to realize, after months of demanding work on one end and no work on the other, that the partnership was a bad idea, and in turn, is ruining a perfectly good friendship.

A Mother’s Journey: Don’t starve the artists

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

Please stop asking the creative community to work for free.

If creative work adds value to your product, gives you more exposure to your brand, and generates an impact on your bottom line, then stop asking the creatives to submit work in exchange for “exposure.”

Don’t ask photographers to volunteer for your many events at no charge, don’t ask writers – an obvious sore spot for me – to submit several “specs” of work to prove themselves before hiring them, and don’t ask designers and marketers to create your brand, or promote your brand, for free as you sit back and reap the benefits.

The whole “We’d like to give you exposure in exchange for your work” bit is overrated, misguided and usually, false. Work is work. And no work should be done for free.

A Mother’s Journey: The tipping point

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 his debut book “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote: “In the late 1960s, a television producer named Joan Ganz Cooney set out to start an epidemic. Her target was three-, four-, and five-year-olds. Her agent of infection was television, and the ‘virus’ she wanted to spread was literacy. The show would last an hour and run five days a week, and the hope was that if that hour was contagious enough it could serve as an educational Tipping Point: giving children from disadvantaged homes a leg up once they began elementary school, spreading pro-learning values from watchers to non-watchers, infecting children and their parents, and lingering long enough to have an impact well after the children stopped watching the show. … She called her idea ‘Sesame Street.’ ”

Gladwell calls this the stickiness factor. In discovering that making “small but critical adjustments in how they presented ideas to preschoolers,” Malcolm wrote, “they could overcome television’s weakness as a teaching tool and make what they had to say memorable.”

In concept, I, too, look to produce such an epidemic of proportionate educational value that the children who attend The Learning Hub will generate a level of stickiness for us, so that we start to discuss more serious methods of how we teach our children in our public schools. We want them to have a leg up as they make their way through the winding paths of what is our current school system.

But as many parents like me believe, the current school system is not up to par, and with that void in the market, the Hub’s stickiness factor can be a bit more contagious.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The shape of the city, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Bushel N Peck spreads to Westborough, tweaks the menu

For decades Bushel N Peck has maintained its perch among the city’s go-to sandwich shops. And now, 37 years after the Oliveri family opened the first store in Tatnuck Square and after new owner Michael Bartosiewicz added locations in Grafton and Clinton, Bushel N Peck is on the verge of opening its fifth storefront in Westborough.