The business community in the Worcester Canal District has seen some changes, including about half a dozen businesses closing their doors in recent months. The latest announcements come from Smokestack Urban Barbecue and Maddi’s Cookery and TapHouse.
Both companies posted updates on social media, drawing strong reactions from grieving customers.
Jillian Nanof, who works at Seed to Stem, said it was unfortunate to hear of any progress in the business.
“Obviously it’s very sad to see some of our favorite places we eat there and we’re advising people to eat closer,” she said.
“I mean, it’s sad, it’s true,” said Julie Sargentelli, who runs White Eagle Bar & Tavern. “You know, they’re our regional partners, you know, we want to see people, you know, survive and prosper.”
But while complaints linger around a lack of parking and rising prices, Worcester Councilman Candy Mero Carlson said some of it comes down to opportunity.
“Some of these people are selling their businesses. Some of these people are selling their properties,” Mero-Carlson said.
Alexis Kelleher, owner of the BirchTree Bread Company, countered that they noticed a number of reasons and factors for these businesses to close.
But the problem of parking is one of the responses of many around Massachusetts.
“When baseball season is in full swing, it becomes apparent that there are fewer parking spaces left for our customers,” Nanof said.
“There’s paid parking around here and you can’t park for more than two hours,” said Mirna Cazares of El Patron.
Mero-Carlson said they are aware of the problem and the city is working hard to find a solution. She said their data showed more than 200 parking spaces were vacant every day, noting there were challenges.
“We really need to do a better job marketing where these parking spaces are,” she added.
Nanof said she is optimistic about the region’s future success.
“Hopefully once the car park is built and fully operational here, that will really help,” Nanof added.
The owners of the BirchTree Bread Company, which changed hands just six months ago, say they are seeing success despite any challenges. According to Kelleher, since the new owners took over, they have seen sales that have exceeded the forecasts set by the previous owners for 2022.
Businesses interviewed by NBC10 Boston said COVID-19 and inflation have also presented many challenges, but overall, many are optimistic that the region will continue to prosper.