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The Yankee Express

Influx of new business re-energizes Millbury Center

Friends Maryann Bourdeau, Nancy Sharron, Ann Jandron, Jo-ann Dunn (“I’m the mama bear”) and Liz Dowdy chat in Mykonos Café & Bakery at 49 Elm St. in Millbury Center on April 7. “We’re the knitters at the Senior Center,” which is currently closed, giving them more time for mixing and mingling, they said.

ccomplished at 49 Elm St. The building is attractive from the outside, and clean and well-lit inside.
The mood among merchants in Millbury Center is understandably bright these days, then, despite the lingering effects of the pandemic. Some would say it defies logic that such bustle could be happening with the economy still trying to regain some traction.

 Jay Rondeau operates Penny Pinchers Brewing Co. at 75 Elm St. with partner Jody Barton. Penny Pinchers is open weekends for beer tasting and is looking forward to offering music and events in the near future.

“We opened in December of 2019, the worst possible time,” Jason “Jay” Rondeau of Penny Pinchers, a craft brewery, said. “COVID-19 hit.” Mr. Rondeau and his partner, Jody Barton, did not give up, even though they had never undertaken such a venture before. Taking over space that had formerly housed a second-hand store, and Paul’s Center Bakery, they were determined to bring their dream to fruition.
“I was a home brewer for fifteen years, and Jody dabbled in it,” Mr. Rondeau said. “The town has been great. Everyone is happy and enjoying the beer.”
Penny Pinchers’ current hours are 1:00-10:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, and 1:00 to 5:00 on Sundays.
Why that name? “We started on a Groupon, and I’m frugal,” Mr. Rondeau said.
“We’ll eventually have live music and trivia,” he said.
Sara Toedt, who operates the Ivy Harper hair salon with Melissa Ragaini in the storefront at 79 Elm St., next to Penny Pinchers, was “with another salon, in Sutton. We saw this spot. We both graduated together.” Hence their decision to start a salon of their own.
Ivy Harper, which takes its name in part as a tribute to Martha Matilda Harper, who Ms. Toedt says “opened the first one hundred salons in the 1800s,” is just another example of retailers’ newfound interest in Millbury Center.
The atmosphere in Millbury Center is embellished too by the reopening of the popular Calabria Restaurant at 7 S. Main St. Calabria features Italian fare.
Breaking away from her duties servicing a crowded late lunch-hour crowd in the dining room on April 7, Manager Taylor Ritchie said Calabria was only closed for about two months last summer and is back better than ever with pretty much the same menu and adjusted prices.
Calabria is open for lunch and dinner.
Ms. Ritchie credits Calabria’s resurgence to the fact that “we weren’t down that long” and to a carryover staff. “I worked for the previous owners and Maria Spiro is still our chef. The community was pretty excited that we’re going to stay open,” Ms. Ritchie said.
Ms. Ritchie said “even a year ago there wasn’t that much happening in the center of Millbury.” Ms. Ritchie and Ms. Spiro (who is a co-owner with John Direnzo) are pleased to see new shops opening their doors.
“We’re a community,” Ms. Ritchie said of the Elm St.-S.Main-N. Main St. neighborhood Just around the corner from Calabria, at 97 Elm St., is Timothy Jay Sweets, which Timothy Benoit launched “about a year ago, four days before the pandemic hit,” he says. Construction work in front of his shop posed some difficulty at the beginning. “There was nowhere to park,” he says. Worse, “there was a generator right in front of my door.” Town Planning Director Laurie Connors helped Mr. Benoit resolve that issue.

 Tim Benoit of Timothy Jay Sweets, 97 Elm St., says his cupcake-themed business will benefit if outdoor seating is installed for residents of Millbury on S. Main St.—as is being discussed.

With the pandemic easing, Mr. Benoit is eager to capitalize on the message he conveys to customers: “when in doubt, cupcake it out.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.
By Rod Lee
In what appears to be almost an overnight transformation, Millbury Center is suddenly alive with new commercial activity.
“For a little town, we’re doing pretty well,” Liz Dowdy said on the afternoon of April 7, as she and several companions talked over their food order at a table at Mykonos Café & Bakery on Elm St.
Mykonos sits next to the Elm Draught House Cinema on the south side of Elm St. “The Elm,” along with the Asa Waters Mansion a block of so away, is one of Millbury’s most historic and coveted buildings.
Mykonos is also located directly opposite A&D Pizzeria & Pub. It is the latest business venture for the Christos and Sonja Andrianopoulos family, whose establishment dates to 1988.
“It was a bar before!” Ms. Dowdy said with a shudder of disapproval, by way of complementing the Andrianopouloses on what they have