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April Fools' Day: 'Is One Eleven Chop House haunted?' and other dubious obse...

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Published Time: 01.04.2024 - 15:04:57 Modified Time: 01.04.2024 - 15:04:57

"I'm not insulted," said Hemmeter, at the time. "I love dive bars," asserting that he thinks of dive bars more as smaller, neighborhood bars, pointing to George's, attached to Coney Island Hot Dogs on Southbridge Street, and Guertin's Café on Grand Street, with its great, vintage backbar and stained glass above the bar, as a couple of his favorites.  April Fools' Day


I’m disappointed. There are very few places you can get a hot blueberry pie buried in whipped cream, and a caramel drizzle relatively cheaply, but I am happy that’s it’s just closed for the day, not permanently. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Table Talk is a big corporation, not a small indie , but by golly, it’s our big corporation.

I think, like a lot of in Worcester, I’ve become increasingly protective of “our” places, the bars and restaurants and such that have for so long defined the city’s identity and culture. Sure, I understand intellectually that not every lost diner or dive bar is the result of gentrification: Owners retire, or sometimes a chef-change results in a restaurant going downhill, or maybe none of those wringing their hands a closed bar or restaurant had actually been there in 20 years. Gentrification in the city is a real problem for small es, but it’s not the only problem. 

But it’s nice to know we get to keep a place we love a little longer, albeit in a new location. It’s also nice when we get things back, which seems to be the case with Guertin’s Café, which is apparently set to reopen sometime in the near future, according to rumblings out of the License Commission.   I’m not certain other cities get as excited the prospect of dive bars returning as Worcester does, but it’s definitely a thing. I remember chatting with Vincent Hemmeter, owner’s of Vincent’s and Ralph’s Rock Diner, when Ralph’s was named one the country’s “diviest dive bars.”  

"I'm not insulted," said Hemmeter, at the time. "I love dive bars," asserting that he thinks of dive bars more as smaller, neighborhood bars, pointing to George's, attached to Coney Island Hot Dogs on Southbridge Street, and Guertin's Café on Grand Street, with its great, vintage backbar and stained glass above the bar, as a couple of his favorites. 

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For example, the other night I asked Chat GPT for 50 weird facts Worcester. While most of the facts were indubitably true — “Worcester is home to the Burnside Fountain, also known as the Turtle Boy statue, which depicts a boy riding a giant turtle” and “Worcester is known for its vibrant cultural festivals, including the Latin American Festival, the Worcester Caribbean American Carnival, and the Worcester Irish Festival” — others were a little ... off. For example, one “fact” was, “Worcester has been home to many notable , including poet Stanley Kunitz, actress Eliza Dushku, and inventor Robert H. Goddard.”  Goddard and Kunitz, sure, but I’m pretty sure the closest the Watertown native and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Dushku has come to Worcester is appearing in Craig S. Semon’s columns comic conventions. But then, that was hardly the weirdest false fact the city. That distinction goes to: "Worcester's 'One Eleven Chop House' is rumored to be haunted by a ghost named Sarah." 

This was a new one on me. While I'm familiar with a lot of the city’s ghost stories, I’d never heard anything One Eleven Chop House being haunted. Turns out, neither had anyone else I could find. Apparently, that “fact” was manufactured wholesale. One need only look to X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook to see that’s going around.  

So no, this isn’t an April Fool’s Day column, at least in the “jokey” sense, but it’s true we find comfort in and places which are indelibly “true” in our lives. Places you can get a dang good pie, or a good drink in a classic bar. These are things that make the city “real,” which is why we mourn them when they go, and celebrate when they return.  

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