Strip-T’s Alums to Open an Exciting New Concept in Worcester
Is Worcester the next Brooklyn? Will you see artisanal mayonnaise shops, jerky makers, and cold-pressed juice bars on Shrewsbury Street? Well, according to former Strip-T’s chef Jared Forman, just maybe.
After amicably leaving Paul and Tim Maslow’s (Ribelle) standout Watertown restaurant in late October, Forman says he had his bags packed to move back to his native New York. But an unlikely thing happened, as his friend and fellow Strip-T’s alum Sean Woods introduced him to Worcester and the possibility of opening their own place in a unique, revitalized neighborhood that has yet to fall victim to the type escalating rents synonymous with gentrification.
“I’d always figured that wherever Strip-Ts took me, that afterward I would go home to New York. But I really love this chance because I think Worcester is such a beautiful city,” Forman says. “I took a hard look at the New York market, then I realized that the same things going on in Worcester are what’s been happening in New York over the past decade-and-a-half. To get in on the ground floor of something like that is a really good opportunity. Also, it’s a very familiar, gritty city to where I grew up in Brooklyn. It feels like home.”
Named Deadhorse Hill, after Worcester’s notoriously steep one-mile incline on Stafford Street, the restaurant will focus on the type of farm-to-table concept Forman practiced at Strip-T’s on a nightly basis. A menu has yet to be finalized, but Forman said he’s most excited about working with the foragers, fishermen, and farmers he’s developed relationships with since moving to Massachusetts.
“I’m going to be using all the best ingredients available to us,” Forman says. “It’s what I get off on basically. I have lots of friends that are farmers and I really want to utilize their products. So, if one of them came to me and said I have XYZ today, I’ll say screw it and scratch whatever else I had planned to run, as long as it’s something good and local and sourced by responsible people.”
The duo will be hosting a preview of their new restaurant at a five-course pop-up dinner on February 8 at Cafe Manzi’s in Worcester, featuring dishes like salt and pepper shrimp, duck charcuterie, and pork cassoulet. Woods, previously the bar manager at Strip-T’s, will be pairing each course with a selection of eclectic wines, sake, cocktails, and Jack’s Abby beer.
Prior to Strip-T’s, Forman resume included stints at notable New York restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Per Se, and Momofuku Ssam Bar. With his background, he says you can expect to see nods to Asian-American, French, Japanese, and Italian cuisines, on his menu. But he’s also sensitive to the desires of the Worcester clientele he’ll be cooking for.
“I definitely want to cater to the locals, and when we get to the point where they trust us enough, we’ll push their boundaries,” Forman says. “My experience in Watertown taught me a lot. We had people from the old Strip-T’s that just kind of left and we had to accept that we weren’t what they wanted anymore. But that being said, a lot of the old customers stuck around, and not only did they accept the changes, they were super excited about them. They followed everything we did and became our friends and our regulars.”
Deadhorse Hill is tentatively set to open on Worcester Common on June 1. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.