Written by Henry Schwan for Wicked Local Natick on June 9, 2018. Edited for space purposes
A husband-and-wife team opened a restaurant in Natick. It’s their second venture into the restaurant world.
NATICK – The owner of the town’s newest restaurant needs a double shot of espresso in the morning.
Dora Tavel-Sanchez Luz made it herself, standing behind the bar at Buttercup, 13 West Central St. in Natick Center.
It gives her a boost of energy to get through a long day. Luz gulps down a quadruple shot over ice later in the day, a few hours before Buttercup opens for dinner. She needs both because her days are jammed-packed with duties, including running her other restaurant, The Farmhouse in Needham.
Luz was dressed in a Farmhouse sweatshirt and sweatpants while working Thursday morning at Buttercup. She said she works out every day, eats a healthy salad for lunch at The Farmhouse, and lives on only a couple of hours of sleep nightly.
Strong espresso must be her secret ingredient.
Business and life partner
Luz’s business and life partner is her husband, Gabriel Sanchez Luz. They met in New York City while Dora pursued an acting career. That lasted 12 years, and to help pay the bills, Dora worked as a waitress. In one of those restaurants, Gabriel worked in the kitchen, and a love connection formed.
They eventually moved around – the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, then to Mexico where Gabriel grew up. Over time, they had two children, Sophie and GianMarco.
Then it was time to move back home. Dora grew up in Wellesley, and she and Gabriel saved up enough money to start a restaurant.
They opened the Farmhouse five years ago. The Buttercup opened last week, and both locations are “super busy,” Dora said.
Both are farm-to-table establishments, a popular trend in the local restaurant scene. When asked what separates her restaurants from the competition, Dora said she and Gabriel have a close relationship with several local farms.
Gabriel’s dishes have a French influence, and Dora pointed out his sauces are not overpowering, which can be the case in some French cooking.
Gabriel’s specialty is fish, especially center-cut Halibut, and it’s on the Buttercup menu. There are also fish tacos, short ribs, and what Dora called “delicious” chicken.
Buttercup’s interior is divided between a bar area and a dining room, and there’s an outdoor patio with seating. Total seating capacity throughout is more than 100, and Buttercup has a 10-year lease in the refurbished American Legion Building.
Two features in the interior excite Dora – an original brick wall from the American Legion Building and a barn door that hides the less glamorous side of the restaurant business. It’s where cleaning supplies are kept.
Farm-to-table makes sense for Dora, because her passion is farming. She and Gabriel live in Framingham, where they run Sun Washed Farm, a three-quarter acre plot on their property that supplies vegetables in Buttercup’s dishes.
For now, Dora and Gabriel don’t have much time to do anything but tend to their restaurants and their kids. However, Dora does have what she called a “pipe dream.”
She loves her farm in Framingham, but would one day like a bigger one.
There’s also a second dream – she wants to own a cow.
“I do want that cow, maybe two, and they need to be black and white,” Dora said with a smile.
written by Brian Benson, originally published in the Metrowest Daily News on December 27, 2017.
NATICK - Food aficionados will have a new reason to visit Natick Center next year as a new restaurant prepares to bring fresh food from the farm to diners’ tables.
The restaurant, to be called “buttercup,” will fill part of the recently renovated and expanded former American Legion building at 13 West Central St. Dora Tavel-Sanchez Luz and her husband, Gabriel Sanchez Luz, hope their latest eatery will become a neighborhood gem.
“I’m confident we can become that,” said Tavel-Sanchez Luz. “That’s our goal.”
They started “the farmhouse” in Needham as a farm-to-table restaurant. They hope to bring a similar concept, but with different dishes, to Natick Center this spring.
The new restaurant, which will at least initially only be open for dinner, will take up two of the three storefronts along West Central Street. It will have about 100 seats spread among a dining area, bar and outdoor patio. Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studios, a martial arts school, is establishing a new location in a space accessible via the Summer Street alley.
Both new businesses should bring people to downtown, said Athena Pandolf, executive director of the Natick Center Cultural District.
The restaurant’s farm-to-table emphasis offers something different for the area. It should complement the existing downtown restaurants, Pandolf said.
“It’s going to be a real draw to people coming into Natick. It’s going to be exciting for the residents to go to some place new.”
Natick-based Stonegate Group completed renovations and construction at the building in the fall, creating space for businesses as well as 11 apartments.
“We are very appreciative of the Natick community’s enthusiastic support of our efforts to bring new and different businesses to our town,” Dean Calivas, chief operating officer at Stonegate Group, said in a statement. “This new restaurant will be an asset to the current revitalization of Natick Center, and we hope that their presence in the heart of the downtown district will encourage other businesses to look to Natick as a wonderful opportunity to set down roots.”
Calivas praised Tavel-Sanchez Luz and Sanchez Luz, saying “their reputation for high-quality, locally grown farm-to-table food speaks for itself.”
They opened the Needham restaurant in 2013 and use food they grow as well as products from other local farms. They plan to farm in South Natick. The couple plans to run a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for opening the Natick eatery.
Relying on locally grown food means the menu must change based on what is available. But, servers can tell diners the story of where their food came from and fresh food simply tastes better, Tavel-Sanchez Luz said.
“That’s who we are. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
For more information about the new restaurant, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about 13 West Central St. is available at www.stonegatellc.com.
The Westborough Dairy Queen staff (and mascot Curly) were proud to march in the Westborough 300th Birthday Parade on September 9th, 2017.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Westborough!!
Originally published in the Westborough Community Advocate on May 14, 2017.
(Article written by Bonnie Adams, Managing Director) Edited for space purposes.
Westborough – The young residents of the Park Village apartment complex got a special treat the morning of May 13 when members of the Westborough Police and Fire departments stopped by for a “meet and greet” event.
The event was organized by Police Lt. Todd Minardi as a way, he said, to help kids get to know some of the officials and let them know they could count on them if they ever needed help. The kids were given the opportunity to check out a police cruiser and fire truck as well.
The officers also took the opportunity to discuss with parents and caregivers how to best protect themselves from the increasing amount of scams that have been occurring online as well as via cell phone calls.
“We just want to help provide them with information so they don’t get victimized,” Minardi said. “Unfortunately scammers are becoming more sophisticated and because so many are based out of the country, there’s really not much that we can do once a person has been victimized. So we want to give them tools so that does not happen.”
For information on scams and how to best protect yourself, visit www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/consumer-information/scams-and-identity-theft/cca.
originally published in the Metrowest Daily News on January 23, 2017 by Jonathan Phelps
(edited for space purposes)
Husband and wife Kevin Carter and Margaret Nichols bought the Bakery on the Common on South Main Street in Natick in October and a few months later opened The Common Cafe & Kitchen.
Since 1999, the couple has run a catering company, La Fete. Nichols said her husband was itching to get back into a restaurant kitchen. "It was always in our plan to open a cafe," Nichols said.
She said a lot of work needed to be done to transform the space into its new modern-vintage look. The former bakery was in business for 17 years.
"We wanted it to be fresh and current, both from an aesthetic standpoint and the type of food we serve," Nichols said.
The restaurant features organic produce and antibiotic and hormone free meats. Craft beer and wine is also served.
Some of the menu items include The Oddfellow sandwich, roast beef, horseradish cream, arugula on sourdough ($11); Vegetarian sandwich, roasted eggplant, pickled red onion, arugula, shaved manchego cheese on a baguette ($10) and variety of soups and salads ($5-$9). Breakfast is served until 11 a.m.
Nichols said they plan to add pop-up dinners once or twice a month, which would require reservations.
"Even before we opened we felt a lot of love," she said.
To read the full article, go to: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20170123/hungry-here-are-some-new-metrowest-restaurants-to-check-out
originally published in the MetroWest Daily News by Brian Benson on December 24, 2016
(edited for space purposes)
NATICK - Kristina Burkey knew she wanted her first brick-and-mortar store to be in Natick.
In the six months since she opened Calliope Paperie, a stationery and gift shop on the corner of North Avenue and Rte. 27, she found her instincts were right. Burkey is impressed with the activities and sense of togetherness she has experienced in Natick Center.
"People here value their town and want to invest in it," said Burkey, who lives in Marlborough.
And, while she understands concerns some people may have about increased development, Burkey is excited to see how redevelopment projects currently under construction add to the liveliness and mix of businesses in downtown.
Natick Centerhas seen an influx of nearby housing thanks to the demolition of the Paperboard factory and construction of the Modera Natick Center housing development in its place. It's poised to add more housing and businesses thanks to ongoing redevelopment of the American Legion and Hometown Paint and Hardware properties close to the intersection of Rte. 27 and Rte. 135.
The core downtown by the 27/135 intersection generally features multi-story brick buildings with shops and restaurants at street level. Municipal buildings, including Town Hall and a library, line Rte. 135 heading east. The area also includes religious and arts venues. Neighborhoods around the core downtown include single- and two-family homes as well as new and re-purposed larger multi-family buildings.
Natick Center is an example of new investment happening in downtowns around the region, as developers and planners recognize the growing desire of millennials and seniors to live in areas where they don't have to drive everywhere. But, downtown development can also raise concerns about traffic, parking and effects on municipal services.
Traditional town centers generally pre-date the car-centric, suburbanization landscape of many neighborhoods. But, with factors such as higher gas prices at play, people really started to think long and hard, "Should we be building our entire society on access to the car?" said Christopher Ryan, of the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission.
Developers and investors recognize that millennials are looking to live in places where they can walk to shops and services and owning a car is not the "be all, end all," he said.
The commission is emphasizing to municipal leaders that this is a successful model, Ryan said.
The commission has worked with Upton officials as they explored potential zoning changes that would foster mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly village center areas that still maintain Upton's historic character, Ryan said.
Originally published in the Metrowest Daily News (9/24/16)
photograph by Daily News and Wicked Local Staff Photo / Art Illman
To view all the photographs, click on the link below!
written by Nancy Olesin, originally published in the MetroWest Daily News on 9/9/16
NATICK – Local developer Stonegate Group is pledging to match up to $50,000 in donations received by Oct. 22 for The Center for Arts in Natick’s $1.7 million capital campaign to transform the second floor of its former Summer Street firehouse into a 120-seat art house movie theater, pay off debt, and renovate other parts of the facility.
Yesterday, as workers painted, plastered, hammered and scurried to complete lobby renovations and to rearrange the first-floor main stage seating in time for an evening concert, the electricity in the building suddenly went out when a branch fell on a wire down the street, cutting power to the neighborhood for a few hours.
But the show must go on. Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre was scheduled to play Thursday night, and TCAN Executive Director David Lavalley was taking it all in stride.
"This is a huge gift for us, and it comes at a time when we have just $350,000 remaining to reach our campaign goal of $1.7 million," said Lavalley. "The renovations to our lobby and upper level are well underway and we are expecting them to be completed by Oct. 22."
The downtown arts center has already raised $1.4 million toward its goal, Lavalley said, from corporate and foundation donors, as well as $105,000 from an online Kickstarter campaign, which ended in July.
Renovations began in late July. The concessions area has already been expanded, the ticket office downsized, and new restrooms and the movie theater are nearing completion. New vinyl floors that look like hardwood are being installed, and in the lobby there's an expanded art gallery wall area, new track lighting, and a ceiling with tiny twinkling lights.
As a TCAN neighbor, Stonegate Group wants to add to the vibrant life of the town center, said company president Sean McGrath. Stonegate is currently renovating a neighboring property, the iconic American Legion building at 13 West Central St. to include 11 condos, 7,000 square feet of retail space and an 18-car garage. It’s hoped the retail space will attract restaurants.
“TCAN is a community-building and arts center that provides important cultural experiences for residents,” said McGrath. The Weston resident, who is also a trustee of the Highland Street Foundation - which sponsors Free Fun Fridays at arts venues across the state - said he met with Lavalley several months ago and “loved the project they are doing.”
TCAN, which has occupied the firehouse since 2003, was formed in 1997 and currently has about 1,800 members. The new movie theater - which might offer free popcorn - will start showing films just before Halloween. Lavalley said he's hoping the new theater will help grow the organization to about 2,300 members.
The deadline for the matching donations coincides with TCAN’s Oct. 22 Annual Gala, this year featuring singer-songwriter Marc Cohn.
Cohn is best known for his soulful ballad "Walking in Memphis" from his 1991 eponymous album. Tickets for the gala are $100. Pre-sale for TCAN members ends Sept. 23. Both individual and corporate sponsorship packages will also be available.
To donate to the capital campaign, and for gala tickets and more information, visit www.natickarts.org or call 508-647-0097.
Written by Brian Benson for the MetroWest Daily News, originally published on 4/23/16
NATICK - A local developer is considering a mix of housing and shops for land along Route 135 between Lincoln and Wilson Streets that could transform a Natick Center block.
Representatives of Natick-based Stonegate Group, which has the property under agreement, presented to the Planning Board Wednesday a preliminary concept to tear down the former 45 East Central St. Catholic school building on site and build housing and shops.
Architect Jim Alexander said project officials are considering one-and two-bedroom units that would appeal to people over 55 and young professionals.
The developer is considering potentially 50 to 70 housing units.
Parking would be underneath the development. The developer also plans to take cues from the neighborhood in designing a project, which could include a courtyard that fits well with open space on neighboring properties, Alexander said.
Planners offered mixed feelings on the potential subject, with some worrying about density and others praising elements such as underground parking. Proponents would need to get Town Meeting to approve a zoning change.
"I liked everything I saw tonight. I appreciate that there's a lot of sensitivity to the neighbors," Planning Board member Andrew Meyer said. "Something like this gives us an opportunity to really work collaboratively."
Board member Julian Munnich wondered why town officials would want to increase the amount of housing allowed on the site.
"Density is a tough sell on a corridor that is already jammed," he said.
Cathi Collins, who lives on Walkup Court off East Central Street, said East Central is "already a traffic nightmare."
She worried the development could add traffic and put pressure on municipal services such as schools and public safety departments.
Planning Board Chairwoman Terri Evans said she would like some element of the school building preserved. She said she also worries about extending downtown zoning that allows a mixed use development too far from the core downtown. That could take away from the compact, walk-able downtown the town has strived to achieve.
Alexander said project officials looked at saving the school but found it unfeasible to convert the large building to another use.
Board member Peter Nottonson said he is "very enthusiastic about the concept presented here" and looks forward to seeing further progression in designing a project.