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Business Watch: Downtown Haverhill Subway Opens

January 13th, 2011 by

This morning I got a hot tip that the downtown Haverhill Subway was FINALLY set to open for the first time today. (For months people have been asking me for the details on when this might go down.) The news came  just as my stomach growled- plus, considering what it looked like before I was dying to see what they did with the space- so I headed down around lunchtime to see if the rumors were true.

Downtown Haverhill's new Subway

Rumor confirmed! The open sign was lit up and there was already a crowd inside…and as I shuffled up the snowy sidewalk I realized it was composed of the mayor, the franchise owners, and some chamber of commerce officials, along with a giant pair of scissors and some ribbon. Apparently I’d  REALLY stumbled upon the opening! I was beckoned inside, and got the first unofficial photo of the ribbon cutting ceremony:

You know your blog has made it when you get to witness a ribbon cutting ceremony.

(SHOCKING REVELATION: Haverhill’s ceremonial scissors don’t actually cut anything- they’re just for show!)

A Subway Is Born:

Now, I haven’t been inside an eat-in Subway in a while, but I must say, compared to the old newspaper themed interiors I’ve seen this one looks pretty swanky. There are a few tables in the storefront windows, and a larger dining area in what used to be the back room before when it was a cupcake shop.

The irony of the faux brick wallpaper is not lost on me.

Also, I think the franchise owners have a real talent for hiring the right people. I visit their Bradford store occasionally and the woman  working behind the counter always compliments me on my habit of totally piling on the veggies, so I wind up walking away feeling like a total winner, as opposed to someone who’s too lazy to make my own damn sandwich. The people working this new store seemed super friendly too. (though they did have all the bigwigs watching)

After all that pomp and circumstance, I managed to be the second person in line to buy a sub. So, all in all a fun little lunchventure full of excitement and ceremony, and extra pickles.

How Cosmic Got Her Falafel Back

August 23rd, 2010 by

Sure, sure, Haverhill’s been experiencing a few setbacks on the ol’ cool-ometer lately. But, all along I’ve clung to what shimmering bits of hope for this city’s future as a kick-ass place to live that I can- a chief one among them being the availability of a totally decent falafel. Naturally then, when Chris reported earlier this month that J.J.’s Kabob and Pizzaria had closed, I was pretty crushed.

Luckily, fate was quick to intervene and a couple weekends ago, between an epic business trip to California and a much-needed vacation sans Internet, I took note of something peculiar going on down Salem St.

Bradford Country Store: 558 Salem St.

Not only was the Bradford Country Store covered in signs proclaiming it under new management, but, um, well, it was night time (as in nearly after dark!) and the Bradford Country Store actually appeared to be OPEN.

This realization barely had a moment to crystallize in my mind when my husband casually mumbled “oh yeah, that place is open again,” and just like that Sunny D commercial from the 80’s, he rambled off a list of completely unappealing offerings before saying the most magical words I have heard come out of his mouth since “I do.”

“And, uhhhh, they’ve got falafel.”

I had to see for myself…immediately. My fellow Haverhillians, yea verily, I have been to the Bradford Country Store and I have tasted the falafel, and it is good!


A finer falafel I can’t imagine. Unlike J.J.’s, the Bradford Country Store offers up deep fried chick pea patties with no annoying crunchy bits inside! And the wrap had just the right amount of tahini sauce and plenty of fresh salad crammed inside. Heavenly!

I also took a sample bite of their kibbe and it was also pretty awesome, too. Now I can’t wait to try out their shawarma and fattoush. Their more conventional sandwiches sound great, too. “The Bradford” is roast beef piled high and topped with BBQ sauce, and while I’m not into the ingredients, it’s oddly satisfying to know there’s a sandwich named after my street.

bRADford has officially obtained a trifecta of good eats: Village Square, Bradford Country Store, and Evenfall could easily round out a gut-busting day of self-indulgent gorging, no trip across the bridge required!

R.I.P. Ice Cream

August 20th, 2010 by

It’s a very sad summer for the Shoe City.

First, Margot’s Gallery closes up – then J.J.’s (with their creamy, creamy hummus) – and now downtown mainstay England’s Microcreamery is shutting its doors after ten years.

Posted on the door

This one is probably the saddest of all! England’s is something other than a bar, salon, discount store, or barbershop in the downtown area.

Luckily, I grabbed a pint of their delicious apple ice cream the other day – but hurry down because flavors are moving fast!

Coming Soon: Hot Dogs!

July 13th, 2010 by

While driving down Winter Street yesterday, I noticed this sign announcing a new business to Haverhill:

Winter Street

Hopefully the Dawg House will offer a veggie-version of the noble tube steak but I won’t hold it against them if they don’t.

I didn’t see an estimated opening date – but the building looks like it needs some work so I reckon it will be a while before you’ll be able to get yourself a footlong.

This location has been featured on the blog before and it is in easy walking distance from the ‘loft district,’ as well. It’s great to see this area being developed and to see new establishments popping up around the city.

We are always on the look out for new business in Haverhill – so don’t forget to send us tips on anything you see. Also, if you or anyone you know is involved with Dawg House – let us know – we’d love to find out more.

Downtown fill in the blank…with a Trader Joe’s?

July 12th, 2010 by

Is 61 Locke St. ready for a "unique foods grocery store?"

Over the weekend, one of my earlier downtown fill-in-the-blank posts received a comment so exciting, that hit so close to home, I nearly fell out of my chair. Says Patrick:

“I think we should start a campaign to bring in a Trader Joe’s. It would answer the need for “necessities” near the lofts/train station with a really hip and affordable business.

The location is barely 1.5 miles from exit 50 of I-495, with only one traffic light (Lafayette Sq). The route looks good, except the rusty train bridge by the Haffner’s. The town just paved the giant parking lot.

Trader Joe’s has a much smaller footprint than a full-sized super market. I think 61 Locke St is a perfect place for the ONLY Trader Joe’s within 20 miles (Tyngsborough I think is closer than their Danvers store.)

The food at TJs is really AFFORDABLE, in addition to be healthy. They make a lot of pre-packaged, non-frozen prepared food, which is great for the urban life style of loft-dwellers.

What do you think of this idea?”

Well, I don’t know about you guys- but I, for one, LOVE this idea. Not that I don’t enjoy getting more for my dollar, but I would really enjoy some food shopping variety, as well as easier access to Pirate’s Booty. And it seems I wasn’t the only one getting all revved up by Patrick’s ideas. New reader/commenter Momma D piped in with support and conspiracy theories!

“I have been craving this type of discussion…why not reach out to Forest City who owns Hamel for their support…it would be a huge plus for them…not sure if there is truth to it, but I heard that the Demoulas/Market Basket owners were in bed with city government…thus that is what we are stuck with…granted the Downtown Market Basket can be quite entertaining.”

High on civic discourse (if not a bit of sunstroke) this weekend I tramped down to Locke St.  to investigate Patrick’s claim that the parking lot next to the train bridge had been paved. Sure enough, it has, but I’ll have to admit, I’m a bit skeptical that this will do the trick, parking wise. It’s a few blocks away from Locke St. and who’s going to be the poor sap who has to wrangle all the shopping carts down Essex?

Then, I got really excited, remembering that the former Radio Market was a tiny island in a great big sea of parking…that is now part of the Hamel Mill Lofts. Bummer!

Overflow parking for Hamel Mill Lofts

And on the other side of the street there’s a huge lot that’s part of the Cordovan. Rats! Still, there could be some sort of compromise between the loft developers and Trader Joe’s if things ever got that far.

Which leads me to ask: what do you think of having a Trader Joe’s down in the loft district?

Be sure to check out all of Patrick’s insightful comments and let us know! Anyone have any information or expertise that might help further the cause? I’ve got a serious hankering for some aged white cheddar puffed corn product!

Downtown bakery gets a little less Enchanted, hopefully a little more OPEN.

July 2nd, 2010 by

Enchanted Bake Shoppe: Closedde for Renovationsse

Allow me to be blunt here, folks. The Enchanted Bake Shoppe was one of those downtown businesses that always left me frustrated. I’d heard some really intriguing things about it, (namely tales of how they won the GREAT CUPCAKE WAR OF 2009) yet the countless times I passed by with hopes of snagging an after meal (or even afternoon) treat I was left disappointed by a dark interior and empty looking display case.

When this sort of thing happens to me,  I start honing in on tiny nit-picky details, like how much I hate places that add extra letters to words in order to sound more magical….*cough* shoppe *cough* (This is what happens when you deprive a girl of a cupcake, people.)

Despite all this, I was more than a bit shocked to see the windows covered in paper. I hunched down and took a peek to see what was going on inside…

A peak beneath the paper

Now, having never been inside the place while it was still Enchanted, I can’t say for certain, but it looks like the walls have been painted, and is that a new floor? Regardless, it’s looking pretty sharp in there.

Having learned my lesson from 12 hours ago when I was prematurely fretting about having a Subway downtown, (no permits have been pulled so it’s not official) this time I checked in with Assistant City Clerk Rick Barber FIRST to see if he had any insight into what’s going on at 108 Washington. And he did! After renovations the bakery will reopen under new ownership and a new name.

Best of all, the word on the street (my new nickname for Rick- what do you think?) is that so far, the new owners are planning on keeping later hours to cater to the after dinner dessert seekers like me! Awesome!

IMPORTANT BUSINESS IDEA: I would like to propose some sort of arrangement between this new bakery and England’s Microcreamery where if you buy a slice of cake you can run across the street and have a scoop of ice cream plopped on top. Genius, right?

I know some of you really loved Enchanted Bake Shoppe, so before you mourn the demise of what was (by all accounts other than me) a really great business with tasty confections, chin up! Enchanted Bake Shoppe is still around and happy to take your order…it’s just moved to a less retail-oriented space. I found this explanation on their Web site:

We opened our storefront in downtown Haverhill in September of 2007. After enjoying much success there, our lease came due and proprietor Kristen Eastman felt that a change was necessary and therefor the business will be moved in May 2010 to a non-retail commercial kitchen space. Despite enjoying the daily banter with regulars, we feel that our work will be better focused on custom work and projects that can reach further than our storefront. Our focus will continue to be on quality, attention to detail and creativity. We pride ourselves on creating confections that make your guests say “WOW”. We invite you to try our products and see for yourself what everyone is talking about!

Sounds like a win-win for downtown Haverhill and dessert lovers everywhere!

Downtown fill in the blank: 38 Washington…and an update!

July 1st, 2010 by

A couple months ago, I told you about a really cute storefront available at 15 Washington St. Well, this evening I was taking a stroll downtown and noticed signs of a new business taking shape!

At first I was really excited. (There may have even been a little jumping up and down- I will neither confirm nor deny.) But, then I noticed there was something peculiar about the paper in the windows.

A sandwich wrappered 15 Washington St.

I ran across the street to get a good look up close and sure enough…

Fresh and fit, maybe. But not quite what I was hoping for.

Um, wasn’t anyone listening to me when I said, and I quote myself here:

So, I’m thinking maybe another food-centric business at this location isn’t such a hot idea.

Or how about when I suggested:

…a cool vintage clothing store like Modern Millie in Salem and Newburyport. Or maybe some sort of home decor/gadget shop where I could run to and grab a nice gift in a pinch. Wine shop? Yarn store? Another coffee shop? Art house movie theatre? (not sure how big that second room is) Why, the possibilities are endless!

I have to admit, I’m kinda happy to see a fast food place I actually like popping up a little bit closer to home. But, I’d still have preferred to see an actual shopping district develop on the main drag. And, now I worry what impact this development might have on local sandwich shop, Heather’s. I’m just saying, it better not get in between me and my macaroni salad, or there will be hell to pay.

Okay, so let’s try this again…

No whammies no whammies...

Now available for lease is 38 Washington St. It comes complete with gorgeous flower boxes, a brick wall for extra interior pizazz, and plenty of space to open something that is NOT A RESTAURANT OR HAIR SALON PLEASE.

Annnnnnnnnnnd GO!

Checkered Flag Indoor Karting: The need for speed.

June 30th, 2010 by

If you look close enough, you’ll find there are some pretty amazing things hiding within the otherwise nondescript warehouse spaces around Ward Hill. Case in point: the 23,000 square feet of speedway at Checkered Flag Indoor Karting, 239 Neck Road in Ward Hill West.

While I have yet to slip behind the wheel myself, I’ve heard great things about this place, including that the facility is super nice, the owners are friendly, and it’s got a pretty sweet arcade in the front room. But so far, the closest I’ve come to getting my race on is being sent some totally embarrassing photos of  a bunch of my guy friends in the requisite head socks. (not a good look, by the way)

Luckily, this past weekend Flickr member Bertron8 and his friends felt the need for speed, and he was kind enough to let me showcase these really cool shots he took that capture all the action:

"The obligatory we-are-not-responsible-if-you-die form. Read and sign."

"The karts were 15hp with electric motors. Pit lane was lined with charging plates for the karts to park on when not in-use."

"Helmets of various colors and sizes for everyone."

"4-point harnesses in each kart to keep you in place."

"Ben shoots for the apex."

"5 racers come down the straight."

"The fastest laps of the day were tracked on this track-side board."

Looks pretty awesome, huh? If you’re inclined to put the pedal to the metal, Checkered Flag is open 7 days a week (a Haverhill miracle!) all summer long.

You know, all these sweet snaps got me to thinking- who do you think would win in a race: me, Chris or Eisme?  Winner gets crowned King or Queen of Haverhill Fever. Place your bets now, because I say we make this happen!

Pedro’s Bike Care: Open House and Mini Bike Races

June 24th, 2010 by

Tonight was the grand opening of Pedro’s, and those of who made it down to 147 Essex St. got a tour of their gorgeous office space, sneaked a peek into their secret R&D lab, and best of all were treated to free beer and cupcakes.

Bike shop inside Pedro's

But wait- did I mention there were mini bike races? Oh. Yes. There. Were.

Around 7:00pm a nice crowd started to gather out in front of Pedro’s HQ waiting for the main event…

And it did not disappoint! Check out these action shots:

Hmmm, you guys, I think an event this monumental calls for more Haverhill Fever goofy animated gifs, don’t you? (I can sense your heads nodding through my computer) In that case, I give you…

The Top 3 Goofy Animated Gifs from Pedro’s Mini Bike Race

1. Know what this race needs? More cow bell.

2.  I like to call this one the “Whoopsie Daisy”

3. And last but not least- check out this guy’s mad sit-down skills.

But all goofy animated gifs aside, between Pedro’s and Frozen Waves, I’m starting to get really excited about the state of small business in Haverhill. It’s been my dream since moving here to see these types of businesses come into town and thrive…nice to see it’s coming true!

Unfortunately, due to all the activity at the open house, plus some shyness on my part, I wasn’t able to catch up with any of the crew at Pedro’s. Plus, with all the gif making going on, I ran down my camera battery before getting shots of the inside office. But rest assured, I’ll be making another visit soon, if only to be able to pretend for a moment that I work in such an inspiring workspace!

Indoor skate park coming soon to Ward Hill

June 23rd, 2010 by

Rumors of an indoor dog playground at Ward Hill industrial park have been swirling around the Haverhill Fever Facebook page recently, and now it seems Ward Hill East is home to an even juicier development- Haverhill is getting an indoor skate park! A friend just texted me this exciting photographic evidence:

Frozen Waves indoor skate park taking shape in Ward Hill East

How cool is that? No word yet on when it’s set to open, but the park, being built by local ramp manufacturer Frozen Waves, has been in development since early March.

Frozen Waves specializes in mix-and-match ramps so anyone can design their own unique skating experience. Founders Brandon Bader, Rif Welsh and Benny Paquette gush on their Web site:

“25 years ago, we had an incredible dream. We grew up on skateboards. As we thrashed away our childhood, this dream matured right along with us. Our common ground is skateboarding, and thus, the way of our walk. Our goal is to make our dream, your reality.”

Well, despite being all kinds of no good on a skateboard, I for one am totally psyched and will be waiting with bated breath for this awesome new venture to open up shop. Until then, check out this cool video of a recent event Frozen Waves put on at Pop*Up Shoppes in Manchester, NH.