By Ben George
If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat before work or school, you might want to consider New England Roast Beef, a small family-owned restaurant. As soon as you walk into this quaint shop you feel like you belong to the family. A Park Ave. staple for over fifteen years, this Worcester phenomenon seems only to get bigger by the year. Enticed by local twists to classic sandwiches and soups, the public comes from all over to get their Worcester pride-themed lunch, with sandwiches named after all the colleges, main streets and many of the surrounding towns of Worcester. We sat down this week with owner Kathy Brady to discuss what makes Worcester love roast beef again.
NWS: Could you explain New England Roast Beef to me in your own words? What does it mean to you?
Kathy Brady: New England Roast Beef is my second home. Love being here, love serving my customers, I enjoy meeting all the new kids coming from the colleges year to year. My son went to Assumption and he was on the hockey team, and I have met that group of people. That was eight years ago, and that led to generation after generation of the hockey team coming here. I enjoy what I do for work; I enjoy having fresh food every day. We come in here and we bake eight beefs a day, sometimes 10, and we serve that fresh daily. Our bread is custom-made for us and that also is fresh daily. And, lastly, I enjoy seeing people enjoying their food. I try and keep the prices as low as I can. I like being here because I enjoy the public and their response to my food and I appreciate their business.
When did New England Roast Beef first open their doors?
We first opened in 2001 we’ve been here for 16 years
Are there any other locations around the area?
No this is my only location, my brother also owns a place in Auburn though (Major League Roast Beef).
What type of people would you say come here normally?
Pretty much middle class, business attire for lunch hours, which account for about 70 percent of the business. A lot of college students, a lot of residents who live locally around here, and many families. Absolutely repeat customers daily – I know everyone who walks in here. People walk in here and feel like they’re at home.
It’s clear to say your famous roast beef is your specialty, but what else do you serve?
We have fresh marinated grilled chicken; we have fresh haddock on Friday’s fish and chip day, with homemade batter. We have turkey, ham, tuna fish — all the deli meats. We have seafood dinners, we have lobster rolls and spinach pies that are homemade here, that I make, all varieties of salads, deli pickles, all different types of pastries, cranberry walnut chicken salad, which is one of our specialties. We have nice lean pastrami and cornbeef — one of our specialty sandwiches is a Ruben. We have many paninis. We have fresh wings and fingers that are never frozen, that we batter ourselves, and four different homemade soups that are made every morning. Everything is homemade. We have award winning New England clam chowder, our chicken soup we make daily, our chili we make daily. Mornings are a very busy time because we are prepping for the day.
What made you want to open this restaurant?
I’ve been in this business since I was 11 years old. We opened up Apollo 11, which is no longer there, on Main Street across from Clark University back in 1969. I’ve been in the food business since I went to college and after I got right back into it. My dad opened up 13 local pizza places in the Worcester Area and adjacent towns. I opened up my own pizza place when I lived in New Hampshire, came back here and opened this up with my brother, and bought this from my brother seven years ago, and here I am.
You grew up here locally?
I was born in Worcester. I went to South High, graduated from Fitchburg State and moved to New Hampshire for 38 years, and then came back to Worcester. I’ve been in Worcester now for 16 years.
Has your personal life played a big role in the sandwich titles you have on your menu, with many of them named after certain streets and schools in Worcester County?
Absolutely, people have really enjoyed that. As a matter of fact, I got in the mail yesterday a banner from Worcester Academy saying that they appreciate our business and that they have heard we made a sandwich named after them and they want to come down this Friday to try that particular sandwich. So people really do enjoy that, ya know?
What’s your busiest time of day?
Busiest time of day would be 11-2 p.m. during lunch time. Our hours are 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday-Friday, and Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. But I am here from 7 a.m. every morning, and if people walk in, we will serve them. Like, if people are driving into work and want to pick up lunch before they go into work, we will make whatever they like at every time of the day.
Directions from Worcester State University:
Follow Chandler Street for 1.2 Miles
Turn Left onto Park Avenue
Continue 1.7 Miles and your destination is on your right.
33 Park Ave, Worcester MA