Breen’s Diner, Pepperell, MA

Since opening about ten months ago in October of 2014, the 1950’s themed Breen’s Diner in Pepperell has been consistent in great food, service and atmosphere. Consistency, especially in food quality, is what all restaurants aim for in their opening months. It can set the pace of business and reputation of an establishment for years to come. What cannot be overlooked in finding consistency, in fact what is the key underlying factor, is management.

The exterior of Breen's Diner, just around he corner from the covered bridge in Pepperell.
The exterior of Breen’s Diner, just around the corner from the covered bridge in Pepperell.

At Breen’s, all aspects of business operations are under the watchful and ever-present eye of owner, manager and head cook Jeff Breen. His decades long history in the local restaurant, food and service industry speaks to the ongoing success of the relatively new business that bears his name.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Ashby), Jeff owned and operated a restaurant in Willard Brook State Forest very near Damon Pond. For years the business served everything from breakfast to ice-cream and experienced great success until external circumstance forced the shuttering of its doors for good, the location has remained unoccupied for nearly two decades. The external circumstance was the owner of the property raising the rent month by month based on the success of the tenant business.

From operating a highly successful family-run small business, Jeff ended up taking a position as head chef at a Raytheon facility here in Massachusetts. There for over a decade, Jeff had to prepare and implement daily changes to a menu and restaurant that served heads of state, foreign royalty, dignitaries and other government officials from around the globe.

Today, Jeff pours his vast reserves of knowledge and experience

A Breen's Diner first-timer wearing a wicked cool T-shirt delights over the freshly made-to-order potato chips and coloring images on the back of Breen's placemat (crayons available upon request).
A Breen’s Diner first-timer wearing a wicked cool T-shirt delights over the freshly made-to-order potato chips and coloring images on the back of Breen’s placemat (crayons available upon request).

into his family’s namesake diner. Giving Breen’s Diner that consistency, especially in the areas that people look for it most. There never seems to be a moment during business hours when Jeff cannot be found on-site. In the kitchen, behind the counter or on the checkered dining floor and always chatting with guests and employees about ways to improve upon his business to better serve the public.

The "Irish Benny", one of many offerings that diners claim as being "The best ever."
The “Irish Benny”, one of many offerings that diners claim as being “The best ever.”

Unitil Power Outage, Fitchburg, MA

Power outages are occurring in Fitchburg, part of Unitil’s monopolized electricity distribution area in Massachusetts.
It’s well-known that outages during the summertime in Fitchburg, Ashby, Townsend and Lunenburg could be due to any number of infrastructure failures like a blown transformer. When someone turns on that extra A.C. unit and POP! goes the Unitil.

But this time, according to Unitil lobbyist Alec O’Meara: “Cause was a squirrel making contact with the line and opening a circuit breaker; crews closed the breaker restoring power.”

Fitchburg residents are reporting on the city’s most trusted source for real-time news and opinion, Facebook group Discussing Fitchburg, that 1600 residents have been affected so far in the area of Granite St.

The Aesthetically Pleasing Omelet

This guest blogger contribution is by Cathy Morgan, Gardner resident and alumni of The Salter School Culinary Arts program in West Boylston, MA.

*All ingredients sourced locally at Stillman Dairy Farm  and Parker Farmboth located on Lancaster Ave. in Lunenburg, MA. (except for the mushrooms, sourced at Market Basket.)IMG_6031IMG_6023

 

 

 

 

Veggie Omelettes

3 servings

Ingredients

6 eggs organicIngredient
Smith’s Country Cheese Havarti with dill sliced
1 scallion
1/4 cup of broccoli diced
4 or 5 sliced portobello mushrooms
3 table spoons of butter
1/8 cup of basil chiffonade

Garnish

Fresh blackberries (organic wild blackberries picked in north Leominster used)
Basil leaves

1) Wash all veggies and dice broccoli, slice mushrooms and scallions and chiffonade basil. In a bowl scramble two eggs.

2) In a sauté pan on medium heat sauté your mushrooms broccoli IMG_6032and scallions until tender. Now turn heat to high and add your eggs covering all veggies and bottom of pan.

3) Let eggs cook until you can move the omelette around in pan and have no loose eggs and flip, I turn heat off at this point and add cheese and basil to half of the omelette and then fold.

4) Serve and garnish with some basil and blackberries on side with some basil leaves.

5) Repeat steps two through four, two more times if desired.

Now enjoy your delicious creation!

The Aesthetically Pleasing Omelet

Independence Day, 2015 Celebrations!!

From this week’s Messenger:

Ashby July 3rd, Band Concert, Barbecue and Bonfire at Allen Field
Gates Open at 4:00
Chicken Barbecue 5:00, contact Ken or Kathy J. at 5502 for tickets, $10.00
Band Concert at 7:30
Bonfire Following Concert (approximately 9:30)

Ayer July 4, 2015
Parade from St. Mary’s Parking Lot to Pirone Park starting at 3:00 p.m.
Party, Concert & Fireworks at Dusk at Pirone Park

Bolton July 4, 2015
The Bolton Parks and Recreation Commission together with Bolton Loco are planning a fun 4th of July Celebration! The event will include the traditional bike and doll carriage decorating while adding some new activities like a Family Field Day and lawn mower races! Please join your community for a day of fun races, competitions and games! Check out townofbolton.com for more info.

Brookline NH July 4, 2015 July 4th Parade (9:30 Start Time) and Family Fun Day with free hot dogs and hamburgers and tons of family friendly games at the Brookline Ball Park on Francis Dr. Fireworks over Lake Potanipo at dusk. Rain Date July 5.

Clinton Independence Day Fireworks Saturday, July 11, 2015
Rain date is Sunday, July 12th
The fireworks start when it get’s dark, around 9:00pm.
Fireworks are shot off at the Veterans Athletic Complex on rt. 110 across from the High School.
Most families will sit and watch the show from the High School & Middle School. The Varsity baseball and Softball fields will be closed to the public during the event.
For more information contact the Clinton Fire Department.

Fitchburg Block Party: July 3 @ 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
A variety of children’s activities at the Kid’s Zone, music, artist displays, performances, and events for people of all ages. With over 70 vendors selling a variety of art, jewelry, local food, and services there is something for everyone in the family to do. The event culminates every year with a fireworks display launched off of Rollstone Hill. More info at www.civicdays.net

Groton Town Fireworks July 6, 2015. Rain date Tuesday Evening July 7th
Town Field, Playground Road, Groton Mon Jul 6 – Tue Jul 7, 2015

Harvard Fireworks & Concert at Fruitlands July 3, 2015, 5 p.m., Cost… $20/car
Join us on the Fruitlands hillside for the Town of Harvard annual fireworks display. The fun starts at 5pm when the museum grounds open for al fresco picnicking. Bring a basket of goodies or buy dinner from a variety of food vendors, and settle in for a lineup of local bands during an open-air concert. Then, when the sun has set, celebrate Independence Day with a spectacular fireworks extravaganza! All proceeds benefit the Town of Harvard fireworks display. Rain date is July 5th.

Pepperell July 4th, 2015
Parade steps off from town hall at 12:30
Fireworks behind the town field at Dusk

Southside of the Border

Swept aside by the march of mall evolution, the Border Grille & Bar was a stinging loss to blind corporate bureaucracy that seeks to put a CVS on every corner. It was a great place for food, service, atmosphere and location that enjoyed wide popularity and success, the wound to the small business community has yet to fully heal. The remedy for what ails former Border enthusiasts in Leominster is Happy Jack’s (of Nashua River Brewers Festival fame) but up in Gardner, hey, there’s the Southside Grille & Margarita Factory. This place has a similar feel to what the Border had and many of the old favorite menu items like fried ice cream!

The fried ice cream is oh so deliciously made to order!
The fried ice cream is made to order!

The dining room atmosphere at Southside is comfortable and oriented well for families, classic rock’s pumped out of speakers just loud enough to drown out any undesirable noise from the bar side. Unless it’s an evening graced by the musical performance of

The waitstaff in the dining room at Southside are excellent, like Lena pictured here. But what is that massive    multi-tiered masterpiece  on sourdough she's serving up?!
The waitstaff in the dining room at Southside are excellent, like Lena pictured here. But what is that massive multi-tiered masterpiece she’s serving up?!

some top local talent like Scott Babineau, who plays there frequently, or Lizzy Marquis.

The waitstaff is quick, professional and courteous without being overly attentive and a big kudos is due to the unseen heroes in the kitchen!

A full menu is at southsidemargaritafactory.com and there are many shining examples of what makes it so deliciously unique, like The Colossus One Pound Burger! (the name pretty much says it all)

 

 

The Colossus One Pound Burger!
The Colossus One Pound Burger’s intimidating size defies the gastronomically ambitious to clear the plate!

Longsjo Classic Left Unsponsored by Unitil

Monopolizer of the Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Townsend and Ashby electricity distribution market, Unitil, has not been a sponsor of the Longsjo Classic these last two years that have seen a revival of the second oldest cycling race in the US. Longsjo was cancelled in 2011 due to complications concerning safety in the area of the burned-out, not yet demolished Johnsonia building in downtown Fitchburg. In 2012, Longsjo was cancelled on June 11th (very close to the planned dates of the event) and organizers subsequently resigned, effectively killing the event until new life was breathed into it by a non-profit formed of new blood interested in resurrecting the race. Prior to this two year absence of the Longsjo Classic, Unitil was historically a primary sponsor of the event, its logo prominently displayed among the logos of other local businesses and organizations on banners, in newspapers and other forms of advertisement distributed all over north central mass and with significant exposure in Fitchburg. Despite consistent attempts by organizers to include Unitil in the roster of sponsors of Longsjo, there has been no involvement by the company that once even participated in sponsoring race competitors including former Unitil Senior Vice President George Gantz.

The first employee of Unitil in 1983, Gantz stepped down on April 1st, 2012 after nearly 30 years with the company. According to several online sources he still serves the company in a part-time consolatory capacity, helping with regulatory structuring.

Abe Waterman's "Sucker Punch" (won 4th Place & Sculptor's Choice)
Abe Waterman’s “Sucker Punch” (won 4th Place & Sculptor’s Choice)

Though costs of Unitil sponsoring Longsjo would be passed on to ratepayers (in one form or another), which may have had an affect in the decision to discontinue sponsorship, it was surprising to discover that Unitil continues to see it fit to sponsor other events such as the Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic, the costs of such advertising Unitil ratepayers in Mass should also expect to be paying for at least in-part.

IMG_5490
Guy-Olivier Deveau’s “Entangled” won 2nd place at the 2015 Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic

 

An email to Fitchburg City Council President Hay concerning placing a non-binding advisory question on the local ballot in regards to the desire of Fitchburg residents to have municipal electric choice by the state legislature passing the Muni Bill into law has gone unanswered to date.

Still, Fitchburg residents do have the option of placing Unitil on public trial by completing the petition process for placing a non-binding advisory question on the local ballot. This type of ballot question would be the equivalent of the public, collectively and directly advising whoever replaces Rep DiNatale next year to raise the Muni Bill banner, as Rep DiNatale has, by filing the bill in as many sessions as necessary until it becomes law enabling Fitchburg to get out of the Unitil monopoly by purchasing existing Unitil territory infrastructure and forming a non-profit municipally owned electric company which would return all unused profits to the owning municipalities.

The Longsjo Classic continues this weekend with the Worcester Criterium on Saturday and on Sunday in Fitchburg with the Classic Criterium. More info may be found at longsjo.com.

UPDATE: Fitchburg City Council President Stephan Hay responded on Thursday, July 2nd as follows: “Sorry for the delay in responding, I would have no problem with a nonbinding question on the ballot. I would like to know the specifics its impact would have on the city besides getting rid of Unitil and their high rates before I decided my position.”

 

Looking For Americana Comfort? Townsend House

In business 41 years, the Townsend House Tavern & Restaurant has quietly been one of the best spots in the region for local Americana IMG_5370fare. Located at the intersection of Depot St. and route 13 just south of Townsend center, the T House (as it’s locally known) offers Americana comfort food served by a friendly not overly attentive waitstaff in an atmosphere filled with local history.

The sole proprietor, Bobby Dickhaut, enjoys the signage of local businesses and collects signs and other antique items of local origin for the purpose of decorating his establishment. This can’t be too difficult with West Townsend being an “antiquing village” that contains internationally known dealers and experts at Hobart Village, The Settle Shop, Antique Associates at West Townsend, Delaney Antique Clocks and the newly opened My Mother and Me.

The site of the building that houses the business dates to 1870, originally constructed by the B. & A. D. Fessenden Company that was at one time the largest barrel making company in America.

From a 1922 National Coopers' Journal (digitized by Google), this photo pictures a display of the products manufactured by the Fessenden Co.
From a 1922 National Coopers’ Journal (digitized by Google), this photo depicts a display of the products manufactured by the Fessenden Co.

A barrel very similar to those pictured at right sits near the tavern entrance of the Townsend House and these days the interior is outfitted with  new floors and lighting, locally made wooden booths and 4 very large flat-screen TVs.

What most people likely come out for though, is the food and drink. Four draught taps, one of which is a selection from Wachusett Brewery, along with a large variety of other thirst quenching beverages are available from 11:30am til’ close every day of the week except for Sunday when the Townsend House is closed all day.

The newly overhauled website at townsendhouserestaurant.com features a complete listing of items on the menu.
IMG_5366

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashby Townwide Yard Sale Vendor Spots Available

The Ashby Town-Wide Yardsale takes place June 27th from 9am-2pm

There will be Vendors on the Common and there are still spots available. Residences hosting yardsales will be highlighted on a “take-with” Map of Ashby.

For more info and an application contact Jamie Lasorsa at 978-870-7541 or email meme10101@aol.com

Application

Free in the Nashoba Valley